Ruth Bonner

In memory of Ruth Bonner – 1917-2011

The Taos Institute is pleased to honor Ruth Bonner for her lifetime contributions to the International Baccalaureate program and list her among our esteemed Honorary Associates. Ruth had participated in many of the Taos Institute conferences over the past 10 years as she traveled together with her daughter Yvonne Bonner. 

We came to know her as a true legend of the international education movement. Ruth Bonner was one of four teachers in Geneva who 1964 laid the foundation to the International Baccalaurate Programme that for the first time provided a standardized curriculum across IB schools that has spread all over the the world.

Ruth Bonner, together with her colleagues at the International School of Geneva (Ecolint), was instrumental in the development of the IB Diploma Programme during the 1960s.

Ruth was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1917. After schooling in Germany, she returned to her native country to complete a degree at the University of Lausanne, training as a teacher of modern languages. During the Second World War Ruth taught German in a 6th form girls’ boarding school in England but returned to Geneva with her husband, Dr Charles E. Bonner where she began teaching at Ecolint.

Ruth was completely committed to the development of the Diploma Programme. Without an office, organization or money, she was responsible for sending the first contemporary history curriculum to governments for approval in 1963. For the next five years Ruth was involved in curriculum conferences for all subjects and became the Executive Secretary of the International Schools Examination Syndicate (ISES) which later became known as the IB Office. Ruth continued to work for the IB in Geneva until her retirement in 1980.

Ruth was present at the first meeting to discuss what was to become the Middle Years Programme (MYP) at the International School of Moshi, Tanzania in 1981 and continued contributing to the development of the MYP right throughout the 1980s.

Sadly, Ruth died in London, England on 13 August 2011 aged 94.

“I first met Ruth in 1987 when I represented the Australian ministers of education at an IB Council of Foundation meeting in Geneva. When I joined the organization in 1993 in Geneva, Ruth became a regular visitor to my office. Ruth was dynamic and never let an opportunity pass to promote the IB which she represented at numerous meetings of the UN in Geneva. She took a keen interest in IB developments and kept coming to my office almost until she turned 90 years of age. Ruth was a remarkable lady, imbued with the IB mission. We owe her a great debt of gratitude.”

— Ian Hill IB Deputy Director General

Ruth’s physical presence will no longer join us at our Taos gatherings with her daughter Yvonne, but her spirit will live on in so many people she touched throughout her life. She will be missed by all of us who came to know her and love her.