As Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs prepares to open this fall, the Kellogg Institute is carrying out a major commitment, outlined in its most recent strategic plan, to build two innovative and overlapping program areas within the new school.

The Institute has taken on co-responsibility for leading and supporting the Master of Global Affairs (MGA) Sustainable Development (SD) concentration, one of three Keough School MGA tracks, as well as playing a major role in conceptualizing and leading the School’s new Integration Lab (i-Lab).

“The Sustainable Development concentration closely parallels our central concern for human development, one of our core research themes,” says Kellogg Institute Director Paolo Carozza. “Although educating master’s students has not been part of Kellogg’s profile in the past, the creation of the Keough School has given us a welcome opportunity to advance our strategic goals around education in a new and exciting way.”

“At the same time, our distinctive Kellogg strengths in building research excellence and global partnerships around issues of human development are a vital contribution to the success of the Keough School. We are delighted to be helping Keough to conceptualize and provide academic leadership in the SD concentration as well as the i-Lab. It is an important and rewarding relationship for both Kellogg and the new School more generally.”

Advancing the Sustainable Development Concentration

Assuming the task of identifying a director for the new SD concentration from among its faculty fellows, the Institute invited Lakshmi Iyer, associate professor of economics and global affairs, to take the Kellogg-supported post.  She began her leadership of the concentration this semester.“Since my primary research focus is in development economics and political economy, sustainable development is naturally an area of great interest to me,” says Iyer.

Defining sustainable development as “a vision for human dignity, economic well-being, social justice, and preservation of nature on the global level,” the concentration aspires to prepare MGA candidates for careers at the forefront of the global effort to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“We aim to provide students with the knowledge and the skills to undertake, evaluate, and improve international development initiatives, keeping in mind the twin goals of sustainability and integral human development,” says Iyer.

“We are bringing together perspectives from several different fields—economics, political science, environmental science, sociology, to name just a few—to equip our students to provide holistic, system-oriented solutions to important global problems, solutions that are tailored to the local context.”

As part of its support of the SD concentration, Kellogg will provide scholarship resources for MGA students. The Institute has also formed a faculty advisory committee for the concentration.

Growing out of its years-long focus on human development studies and research, and its creation and management of the undergraduate Minor in International Development Studies, Kellogg has a deep bench of experts among its faculty and visiting fellows, many of whom have been involved in developing the SD curriculum.

Nearly three-quarters of the faculty teaching SD courses in the concentration’s initial year are members of the Kellogg community, representing a range of disciplines and significant global field experience. In addition to Iyer, they include:

Supporting the Integration Lab (i-Lab)

Faculty Fellow Tracy Kijewski-Correa and Executive Director Steve Reifenberg will be teaching MGA students from all three concentrations as the creators and recently announced co-directors of the Keough School’s new Integration Lab (i-lab).

“The i-Lab is a theory-to-practice ecosystem where the expertise and insights of often siloed disciplines are systematically and deliberately integrated, with the aim of addressing critical global challenges in transformative ways,” says Reifenberg.

“To make it possible, we are leveraging diverse expertise from across the University and drawing on a network of global partnerships developed over time by the Kellogg Institute and others at Notre Dame.”

Over the two years of the MGA, students will work in teams in the i-Lab, developing foundational skills and mindsets such as design thinking, systems thinking, implementation science, and negotiation; undertaking a year-long partnership with a field-based development organization; and integrating the policy potential of their work in the final semester.

The i-Lab grows out of Reifenberg’s undergraduate courses in international development, which engage students as “consultants” to partner organizations around the world, and the evolution of Kijewski-Correa’s Kellogg-funded interdisciplinary research and experiential pedagogy related to engineering for international development.

Kijewski-Correa is a self-described problem-solver “energized by the idea of solving problems across disciplines—particularly problems that affect the world’s most vulnerable.” At the Kellogg Institute, she found “kindred spirits” on the path that led her from the College of Engineering to her new joint appointment with the Keough School.  

Her vision for the i-Lab is clear.

“Lines between education, research, and policy and practice dissolve. Faculty work alongside students and global partners to conduct impactful work in field sites all across the globe,” she says. “It brings the University’s deep expertise to bear in a way that emphasizes collaboration across disciplines and innovation to develop solutions that unapologetically express a preferential option for the poor.”

The Kellogg Institute is supporting i-Lab curricular programming and research opportunities for students. The i-Lab should also deepen key institutional linkages with Kellogg global partners, resulting in research opportunities for Kellogg scholars, doctoral students, and even undergraduates.

As of July 1, Reifenberg will leave his executive director position to devote 80 percent of his time to the i-Lab and the Keough School more generally. He is not leaving the Institute behind, however, since he will spend 20 percent of his time as senior strategic advisor to the Kellogg director. (The Institute does not plan to fill the executive director position at this time.)

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies, part of the University of Notre Dame’s new Keough School of Global Affairs, is an interdisciplinary community of scholars and students from across the University and around the world that promotes research, provides educational opportunities, and builds linkages related to two topics critical to our world—democracy and human development.