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The Human Development Conference is a student-run event sponsored by the Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at the University of Notre Dame.
The overarching mission of the Ford Program is to build a translational, interdisciplinary alliance of scholars, students, public servants, and conscientious citizens to address critical challenges confronted by individuals living in extreme poverty.
In 2008, together with the Center for Social Concerns, the Ford Program sponsored a student research symposium entitled “Solidarity in the Pursuit of Authentic Human Development.” Twenty-eight students presented at the event, including students from Uganda Martyrs University. Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, delivered the keynote address.
In November of 2008, the symposium grew into a full conference sponsored by the Ford program and cosponsored by the Center for Social Concerns and the School for International Training. “Innovation in the Service of Human Dignity” featured graduate and undergraduate student presenters from 29 universities and representing 28 countries of research. Moderators from around the country also attended the conference to facilitate panel discussions. Peter McPherson, the former head of USAID, delivered the keynote address.
The second annual Human Development Conference, “People, Power, and Pragmatism: The Future of Development in Our Changing World,” was held in February of 2010. More than doubling in size from the previous year, the conference grew to 80 students with research experiences in 38 different countries. Thirty-eight colleges and universities from across the globe were represented. Ray Chambers, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, spoke on his commitment to the Millennium Promise and Malaria No More. The keynote address was delivered by Joseph Sebarenzi, the former speaker of the Rwandan Parliament, who spoke passionately about his experience as a genocide survivor and his efforts to create reconciliation, peace and development in Rwanda and the world.
The third annual Human Development Conference, “Unleashing Human Potential: Global Citizens in Pursuit of the Common Good,” brought together 73 undergraduate and graduate student-presenters with research experiences in over 30 countries. The Ford Program also welcomed a group of two students and three faculty members from Uganda Martyrs University, the program’s partner university in on-site research and development projects. The two-day conference concluded with a dinner banquet and keynote address given by microfinance specialist David Roodman from the Center for Global Development.
The fourth annual HDC, “Faces Behind the Figures: Visions of Prosperity, Progress and Human Potential,” took place during February 2012, culminating in a keynote address given by Not For Sale’s co-founder and executive director Mark Wexler. The conference featured 250 students, faculty and development experts from across the United States and beyond. Eighty-two students presented research on development-related topics conducted in over 35 different countries. Panels addressed topics ranging from food security and agricultural development to post-conflict transformation and the effectiveness of foreign aid.
Last year, the fifth annual Human Development Conference, “In the Field: Cultivating Collaboration and Innovation,” brought together more than 200 students, faculty members, and development experts from around the world, including keynote address speaker, Sara Sievers, the founding executive director of the Center for Globalization and Development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Over 70 students presented their own research, representing fieldwork from more than 30 countries. Topics addressed ranged from evaluating the perceptions of trust among Peruvian sexually abused victims to combating cancer in Samoa and implementing organic agricultural certification in India.