Solidarity in Pursuit of Authentic Human Development

A Student Symposium at the University of Notre Dame

Saturday, February 23, 2008 at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies

Presented by the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, the Center for Social Concerns and the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies

Keynote address offered by Raymond C. Offenheiser, Jr., President, Oxfam America

In the recent decades, “development” has encouragingly taken on a more holistic, more human approach.  This approach transcends measures of mere economic growth by subsuming quality of life valuations tied to health, education, the environment, and basic rights and freedoms. Essential to this new ideology is the realization that authentic human development can only take place if local people are the agents of their own development.

With this symposium the University of Notre Dame charges the next generation of thinkers, both from our community and from other universities, to join the human development discourse, identifying challenges faced and suggesting possible solutions. Blending current theories with anecdotal observations and the results of various research methods, students will illuminate some of the paths leading towards authentic human development. 

Learn more about approaches to authentic human development from a wide array of university students' experiences.


Jessica Brock

Jessica Brock is a law student at the University Of Notre Dame.  Originally from Wichita, Jessica graduated from Notre Dame in 2005 with a B. A. in sociology and theology.

Jessica’s research and work experience in developing nations has primarily been in the areas of education, microfinance, and migration.  Prior to beginning her legal studies, she spent two years as a missionary in Kyarusozi, Uganda where she worked as a teacher and social worker.  In addition to her experience in East Africa, Jessica has traveled and studied in Cuba as well as working and researching in Tijuana, Mexico

Culture Role Fluency and Facilitating Development

Focusing on a group savings and loan project in Uganda, this presentation argues that cultural fluency is a precondition for facilitating development.  Cultural fluency includes both learning another’s culture and understanding of one’s own culture.  That requisite self-awareness yields a proper perspective of being one among others rather than one above others; it properly defines power in terms of interdependence rather than dominance and dependence.  Development takes place in the context of interdependent relationships, and these relationships require knowledge of the other that reaches beyond surface observations.  Cultural fluency not only allows attentiveness to the needs of a developing nation and its people, but it also reveals the rationale behind those needs, enabling one to go beyond the surface.  Understanding the other’s needs and rationale for those needs allows more effective and meaningful dialogue to take place in facilitating development and helps to mitigate conflict in the process.  Further, becoming fluent in another’s culture ultimately reciprocates a greater self-awareness.  Most importantly, cultural fluency leads to a better ability to articulate one’s needs and expectations for development ultimately giving all involved power in the process.

Rachel Cota

Rachel Cota is a member of the Class of 2008 at the University Of Notre Dame.  A Theology major with minors in Anthropology and Africana studies, she has been working for the Benin Education Project under the direction of Dr. Stephen Silliman for the past two years. In addition to her academic interests, Rachel is also the co-captain of the Notre Dame Women’s Fencing Team and holds the distinction of a 2005 National Championship Team member.  After graduation, Rachel plans to pursue graduate studies in International Social Work, focusing on social and economic development.

Educational Development: From South Bend to Benin, West Africa

In the pursuit of sustainable development, education is crucial factor that can greatly affect a project’s long-term success. To examine education’s role in development, “Educational Development: From South Bend to Benin, West Africa” will present the results of research comparing and contrasting two settings: a Catholic elementary school in South Bend, IN and a rural village’s primary school in Benin, West Africa.  The presentation will discuss cross-cultural programs between the two schools including student pen-pal exchanges and technology training for teachers, highlighting the reasons for success as well as discussing the unanticipated challenges.

Margaret Cuhane

Margaret Culhane is a junior at Notre Dame, pursuing a dual degree with majors in PLS and Biological Sciences. She hopes to somehow help fight the world’s fight.

Natural Solidarity and Human Development: Life, Interdependence and the Environment

This parallel session addresses the concepts of human solidarity and development as regards the environment in two different ways.  The first presentation applies Hans Jonas’ philosophical biology to these questions and argues that
human solidarity can be rooted in common interdependence on the environment. It also questions the viability of anthropocentrism as a theory of human development and argues for a concept of human development rooted in mutual
flourishing with the environment as opposed to technological domination and industrial growth.

Jessica Faith

Jessica Faith is a candidate for Master in Arts in International Affairs, with a concentration in social and economic development, at the New School University in New York City.  Her research interests include informal settlement upgrading initiatives, and she spent two months during the summer of 2007 conducting field research in the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg, South Africa.  She arrived at the New School after having spent a year working for a non-profit organization outside of Managua, Nicaragua.  She also interned at Doctors without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers, and has previously lived in Argentina and Spain.  Her undergraduate studies were undertaken at Vanderbilt University, where she pursued a degree in English Literature.    

Human Rights and Development Initiatives: Slum Upgrading in South Africa

Does protecting human rights, which tends to use the language of absolutism when focusing on inequality and discrimination, infringe upon the economic goals of growth and efficiency?  The appropriateness of human rights within the development framework continues to be a debated concept.  Its practical application can be exemplified by the housing crisis in Johannesburg, South Africa where the national government’s development goal of achieving “shack-free” cities has sanctioned slum elimination legislation.  Massive evictions and removals have uprooted thousands, often making way for larger development projects (practices that are more reminiscent of urban planning during the apartheid era).  Amid rapid economic growth, and pressures to prepare for the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, the national government’s policy of creating shack-free cities has actually had a welfare-shrinking impact on slum dwellers in Johannesburg.  When development programs forcefully remove squatters or the residents of informal settlements, it not only violates basic human rights guarantees, but also denies the ability for slums to be understood as temporary relief to the housing crisis.  This inhibits the ability for occupants to participate in a housing solution, and begs the question as to whether or not current forms of participatory planning are problematic or a step in the right direction. 

Shawn Finlen

Shawn Finlen is a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies and Political Science.  A former resident of Sorin College, he is a native a Normal, Illinois.  In the past year he has made several trips to Uganda to pursue his research interests.

Democratic Development: The effect of deliberative democracy on the distribution of foreign aid

This research examines the role of the local community in economic development projects. Many recent development models call for a "bottom-up" approach that solicits community interaction for effective solutions.  While some argue that
this kind of deliberative approach makes foreign aid more successful, others note problems with such community involvement. Shawn used qualitative data to assess these arguments as they might apply to the rural villages of Nnindye,

Jenni Gulley

Jennifer Gulley, originally from Burlington, Iowa, is currently a senior at Valparaiso University in Indiana where she is majoring in International Economics & Cultural Affairs and Spanish. Through her experiences with the education systems in Canada, the United States, and Mexico she has become an advocate for the importance of education as a means to sustainable development. Furthermore, Jennifer served as the Interim International Youth Coordinator in Free the Children’s international office in Toronto from January-August, 2004.  There Jennifer worked with student groups all across the globe helping them to gain the resources and education necessary to be the change they wanted to see in the world. Her joint passions of education and the Hispanic culture have led her to focus on Latin America and its need for sustainable development. 

Education as a Means of Economic Development in Nicaragua

This presentation will focus on the El Castillo region in the Southeastern part of Nicaragua and the use of education as a means to sustainable development. A proper country and regional profile and an economic analysis of the region will be presented in order to establish the need of and feasibility of the project. The presentation will then focus on the proposed construction of a school in the town of El Castillo in order to raise the average years of attendance from 2.3 years to 6 + years of education. This goal is supported by the strong correlation that exists between poverty and low levels of education combined with the knowledge that this specific region suffers from high levels of poverty indicating that the education system maybe lacking. The presentation will provide concrete ideas about providing for the funding for teacher salaries and supplies, measuring the success of the project, incentives presented to the local population to become involved, and sustainability. 

Nicholas Houpt

Nicholas Houpt is a senior PLS and German major at the University of Notre Dame.  He plans to pursue a JD/PhD in philosophy and to work on issues related to the environment and poverty.

Ethics and Ecological Economics: Responding to the Ecological Crisis

The second presentation extends these ideas to ethics and economics. The temporal locus of ethical theory is usually the present or near future, but these new environmental concerns make intergenerational justice an especially prominent consideration.  Solidarity extends into the future, and human development entails responsibility for future generations. As for economics, the model of endless growth dominant in neoclassical economic theory must account for limited resources and locate itself within an ecosystem.  Herman Daly’s theory of ecological economics provides an illustration of this and distinguishes between growth and development.  This new framework for economics also makes the need for human solidarity more pressing because it recognizes the limits of our ecosystem and the cooperation necessary to save it.

Patricia Hughes

Patricia Hughes is a Junior Arts and Letter Preprofessional/English major.  She participated in a Kellogg Institute undergraduate fellowship program from June to August of 2006, researching malnourishment among children in a rural Peruvian community.  From June to August of 2007, she studied the implications of housing for people living with HIV/AIDS while interning at a supportive housing facility for disabled people with HIV/AIDS in Maryland.  She plans to apply to a Masters in Public Health program or Medical School after graduating.  

The Impact of Housing and Ancillary Services on People with HIV/AIDS

From the onset of the administration of highly active retroviral therapy in the mid-1990s, the nature of HIV in the United States has changed.  People who are HIV positive are living longer and maintaining a higher quality of life.  To maximize the effects of medical services, non-medical support services have become more important for overcoming barriers to entering into and retaining adequate primary care.  The specific impact of housing as an ancillary service will be addressed, and the success of supportive residential facilities will be explored through case studies conducted at such a facility.      

Jeff Lakusta

Jeff Lakusta is a sophomore Science-Business major pursuing a minor in Peace Studies.  With hopes of medical school, he traveled to South Africa this past summer with a medical team to research the HIV/AIDS epidemic there.  Touched by the suffering of so many, he founded a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization called the “Eyes on Africa Foundation” which will be taking volunteers and donations to South Africa this summer (

Vice president of the sophomore class and fledgling author, Jeff has published his short stories in such magazines as the SNReview, published the “Ubuntu” journal from his trip, and obtained representation for his novel manuscripts under the penname David Kraine (

HIV/AIDS and Stigma in South Africa

With so much attention turning towards Africa and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, how can the disease continue to grow while funding for treatment does too?  People living with HIV/AIDS face such intense stigma that they avoid disclosing their positive status to others, avoid treatment, and avoid testing altogether.  HIV/AIDS and Stigma in Sub-Saharan Africa looks at how the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS hinders treatment and prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa and explores innovative plans which treat both the disease and its stigma.

Mariah Quinn

Mariah Quinn is a senior Romance Languages and Literatures major with a supplemental major in International Peace Studies. After her freshman year, Mariah served in a residential facility for formerly homeless mothers and their young children.  The following summer, Mariah volunteered with CRISPAZ, an NGO in El Salvador, where her efforts focused on models for literacy development as currently implemented with adults and children. These volunteer experiences stimulated her interest in the potential of early childhood development programs in the developing world. Most recently, Mariah interned with the US Department of State in Milan, Italy. Currently, she is co-president of Foodshare and co-chair of this year’s Undergraduate Peace Conference. 

Early Childhood Development Programs

Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs serve to equalize opportunities by positively impacting children’s educational, health, and social capital outcomes.  I will further examine these three target areas, by outlining both the immediate and long-term benefits stemming from participation in an ECD program.  Specific case studies will be cited to illustrate instances of successful implementation.  The outcomes of ECD programs parallel the objectives of Human Development, strengthening the argument that ECD ought to be an integral component of any development program.

Jenna Rogers

Jenna Rogers is a senior political science major and politics, philosophy and economics minor at Notre Dame.  She began her work in Uganda when she traveled there after her sophomore year to do an independent research project on the International Monetary Fund's structural adjustment policies.  This past summer, Jenna continued her work in Uganda while interviewing the villagers in a rural community of subsistence farmers. Jenna will be presenting work that is part of her senior political science thesis.

A New Design for Development

Jenna Rogers will be speaking about some of the most pressing problems confronting the people of Nnindye, in Uganda as well as some possible solutions. Her conversations with these villagers as well as other observations from Uganda, the data sets from the Millennium Village Project and current ideas on development planning from various authors create the basis for a multi-faceted development approach of her own design. 

Michael Roscitt

Michael Roscitt is a Junior at the University Of Notre Dame majoring in Finance and Economics. He spent August - December 2007 in Uganda studying and living under the School for International Training Development Studies Program. His research was carried out with the United States African Development Foundation in Kampala and Fort Portal, Uganda. Michael's favorite hobby is running and I cannot wait to return to Uganda!

Bolstering the Private Sector as a Means to Sustainable Development

Privatization and private sector development have been primary methods of development throughout Uganda and Africa for the last 20 years. These two valuable tools, however, have been plagued by corruption. If State Owned Enterprises were instead divested amongst a broad section of the population, local entrepreneurs with limited capital could participate in the privatization process. If responsibly divested, private sector development would then be able to have more far reaching effects because the enterprises being helped would be owned by the people.
More than a month was spent working under the United States African Development Foundation with the two enterprises of Maganjo Grain Millers and Mpanga Tea Growers observing and researching methods of grassroots participatory private sector development. Through insights and perspectives gained through work with these two enterprises of different environments, histories, and organizational structures it became increasingly clear that all three of these factors have a strong impact on the success of USADF’s programs. It will be argued that a rural environment and a smallholder ownership structure catalyze the USADF recommendations and implementations. If privatization is more responsibly divested amongst the local people, USADF will have more enterprises with the smallholder ownership structure to work with in order to provide holistic development for Uganda.

Sarah Runger

Sarah Runger is a Civil Engineering major and will be graduating in May 2008. She has done research for two years on water quality projects in Benin.  Next year, she hopes to be teaching through the Alliance for Catholic Education program.

Developing an Integrated Approach to Water Quality Monitoring: Local Populations as Key Partners

Many people in developing parts of the world do not have access to clean drinking water. To help maintain the water quality of groundwater wells, education of the population and regular monitoring are needed. In rural areas, it is difficult for trained professionals to sample water with the frequency needed. In Benin, West Africa, our research group has worked cooperatively with Direction de l’Hydraulique (the governmental agency responsible for rural water supplies in Benin) on a pilot project that uses an integrated approach to water quality monitoring involving both scientists and local populations. By training local people to perform the water quality tests, more frequent monitoring becomes possible.    

Laurén Shuttleworth

Lauren Shuttleworth is a senior studying Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Catholic Social Teaching.  She has been involved with the Benin research team for one year, including travel to Benin during the summer of 2007.  She plans to attend law school next year to study Intellectual Property law.

Developing an Integrated Approach to Water Quality Monitoring: Local Populations as Key Partners

Many people in developing parts of the world do not have access to clean drinking water.  To help maintain the water quality of groundwater wells, education of the population and regular monitoring are needed.  In rural areas, it is difficult for trained professionals to sample water with the frequency needed.  In Benin, West Africa, our research group has worked cooperatively with Direction de l’Hydraulique (the governmental agency responsible for rural water supplies in Benin) on a pilot project that uses an integrated approach to water quality monitoring involving both scientists and local populations.  By training local people to perform the water quality tests, more frequent monitoring becomes possible.

Cathubert Tukundane

Cathubert Tukundane originally trained as a secondary school teacher, and now has earned a Diploma in Education, an ABA in Microfinance and Community Economic Development, a BA in Ethics and Development Studies and has just graduated with an MS in Development Economics from Uganda Martyrs University. He taught in secondary school for two years, worked with Uganda Catholic Charismatic Renewal for four years and Mbarara Archdiocese for five years. Upon his graduation with a master’s degree two months ago, he joined the Institute of Ethics and Development Studies at Uganda Martyrs University as a lecturer. He is also a member and course facilitator at the African School of Open Education (ASOE) which has just been launched by the African Volunteers Association (AVA) in Western Uganda. At the moment, his interest is in developing a career in academics and in research on rural development issues, with a special focus on poverty reduction programs and social economic development. He also hopes to pursue a PhD in a related field in the near future. He is married and has two children.     

 An Assessment of the Impact of Agricultural Commercialisation on Household Income in Uganda: A Case Study of the Area-Based Agricultural Modernisation Programme (AAMP) in Mbarara District

Since the year 2000, agricultural commercialisation has been promoted in Uganda as one of the main strategies to raise the incomes of smallholder farmers and hence household income poverty reduction in the rural areas of the country. In this paper, the impact of agricultural commercialisation on household incomes of smallholder peasant farmers is examined through a case study of the Area-Based Agricultural Modernisation Programme (AAMP). Specifically, it evaluates the impact of improved agricultural technologies, farmer support services and matching grants on household incomes, as well as farmers’ perceptions on the agricultural commercialisation programme as a means of improving their incomes. Results obtained using a simple linear income model show that agricultural commercialisation has impacted positively on household incomes of smallholder agricultural farmers in the programme area. Improved technologies in terms of hybrid domestic animals and improved crop varieties have been found to have the biggest impact on household incomes than the other components of agricultural commercialisation promoted by AAMP. The paper therefore recommends that the government should continue to pursue the policy of agricultural commercialisation but should do so while promoting not only the improved breeds and varieties but also local ones which even the poorest farmers can afford. 

Felipe Witchger

Felipe Witchger is a senior energy studies and economics major. Prior to college he spent two summers accompanying the rural poor in El Salvador and one year living in Quito, Ecuador as a Rotary International exchange student. Since he began at Notre Dame, Felipe has spent summers in Lima, Peru working as a water project intern with a local development NGO, in Boston researching as an environmental strategy intern with an energy consulting firm, and in Brazil investigating the sustainability of biofuels production. At Notre Dame, Felipe helped found several student organizations including: ECSAB, a student advisory board to the ND Energy Center, GreeND, which fosters learning, leadership, and activism relating to energy and environmental issues, and QUEST ND, which strives to promote greater intellectual engagement in economics by promoting diversity and openness in the discipline. Felipe is currently assisting the ND President in planning the 2008 Forum, “Charting a Sustainable Energy Future.” Next year, Felipe will join Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ new Climate Change and Clean Energy team in Boston.

Possibilities for Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Development of Biofuels Development in Brazil

To genuinely pursue authentic human development, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners must attempt to: (1) understand current on-the-ground realities, (2) engage all stakeholders in the decision-making process, (3) work cooperatively for change with existing institutions, (4) promote just and equitable practices, and (5) value considerations of security and sustainability. This presenter will describe how his experience in Latin America working with religious and environmental organizations, state-owned enterprises, industry, and regional and national governments informed this perspective on development. Specifically, he will recount lessons learned from his recent trip to Brazil where he spent time exploring the potential for socially and environmentally sustainable production of ethanol fuel.