Message from the Director

Promoting the dignity of every person and the common good of all people

The Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity is dedicated to research, teaching, and service that increase the effectiveness of efforts to promote Integral Human Development, a holistic model of flourishing rooted in the dignity and full potential of the human person.

With the goal of understanding the challenges and aspirations of people living in extreme poverty around the developing world, we conduct research that grows out of engagement with local communities.

We learn from community members, working with partner organizations that directly implement programs to provide quality education, enhance health, foster livelihoods, and promote accountable and responsive government.

We assist development practitioners, policy makers, and people grappling with poverty in their own communities to increase the effectiveness of their efforts to promote integral human development, a holistic model of flourishing rooted in the dignity and full potential of each person.

We seek to understand:

  • The pathways and determinants of integral human development
  • How improving individual or community recognition of human dignity and other holistic components of development can influence economic growth and social change
  • How community engagement can instill self-confidence, individual responsibility, reciprocity, and community awareness

To ensure lessons learned inform future research projects and practical efforts to promote human flourishing, we share such lessons with our community partners as well as development scholars and practitioners. These products can include:

  • Case studies of community change processes
  • Program evaluations that measure progress toward integral human development
  • Pilot projects that identify effective approaches for leveraging community perspectives and resources to promote development and improve long-term socioeconomic outcomes


Completed Projects 

postpartum care in Ghana

How does postpartum care delivery model help maternal mortality?

Focused-PPC: An Integrated Postpartum Care, Education, and Support Model for Women in Ghana
(In Partnership with Savana Signatures)

This research tests the impact of an innovative integrated group of care, education, and support model for postpartum women up to one year after delivery. Focused postpartum care (PPC) was implemented as a randomized controlled trial in 4 health centers in Tamale, Ghana. (more...)

Researcher: Joyce Adams


How does engaging community leaders increase re-enrollment among primary school-aged children?

School Management and Re-Enrolling Dropouts: Experimental Evidence from Schools in Rural Uganda
(In partnership with Building Tomorrow)

The researchers test whether offering external expertise and personnel to support school principals (by engaging community leaders) can increase re-enrollment among dropouts, general enrollment among primary school-aged children, and test scores. (more...)

Researchers: Joe Kaboski, Viva BartkusWyatt Brooks (University of Arizona), Carolyn Pelnik (Tuft University), and Maurice Sikenyi



How can Sisters in Africa help with the HIV/AIDS crisis?

Assessment of the Impact of Religious Women’s Capacities for Leadership, Caregiving, and Spiritual Guidance in Six African Nations
(In partnership with All-Africa Conference: Sister to Sister)

The study investigates the experience of health interventions in six African countries by an alliance of Catholic sisters in Africa called the “All Africa Conference: Sister to Sister.” The project will generate lessons on preparedness for public health crises and on solidarity with communities affected by the dual crisis of HIV/AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researcher: Maura Ryan


How can empathy-based media campaigns reduce anti-immigrant sentiments?

Experimental Evidence on Attitudes Towards Central American Immigrants in Mexico
(In partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross)

The research examines the immigrant humanitarian crisis in Mexico City and the pressures of the exodus of Central Americans into Mexican territory heading to the United States. Partnering with one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), this project examines interventions that effectively promote Mexican citizens’ support for and solidarity with immigrants in Mexico and raises critical questions, chiefly how empathy-based media campaign narratives reduce prejudice toward Central Americans in Mexico and foster support for pro-immigrant policies as well as altruistic behavior. (more...)

Researchers: Abby Cordova and Natán Skigin


How does integral ecology relate to other themes in the Catholic social tradition?

Sowing Hope: Ecology, Integral Human Development, and Theological Peacebuilding in Uganda
(In partnership with Bethany Land Institute)

The research investigates the notion of “integral ecology” as the theoretical and practical nexus that connects theology, peacebuilding, ecological ethics and Catholic Social Teaching. The research answers three broad questions relating to the conceptualization, application and impact of integral ecology. What is integral ecology, and how does it relate to other themes in the Catholic social tradition? (more...)

Researcher: Fr. Emmanuel Katongole


How can a smartphone application help community health workers address vision problems?

Promoting Eye Health Amongst Children and Adults Through Community Health Workers Using a Smartphone Application: A pilot Project in Dandora Kenya
(In partnership with Northwestern University Department of Ophthalmology and ECK Institute for Global Health at Notre Dame, Bro Andre Hospital in Dandora, Kenya)

Building on the Ford Program’s long-established relationships in Dandora, Kenya, this eye health study assesses the effectiveness of the new application and builds the technical capacity of the local community health workers to address vision problems in the local community. The project offers significant potential for long-term community engagement and capacity for improving learning outcomes, employment opportunities, and quality of life.

Researchers: Rev. Bob Dowd, Bernard Nahlen and Jackline Oluoch-Aridi



Past Projects 




How can we best integrate refugees?

Humanitarian Corridor Initiative

Thousands of refugees and migrants risk their lives each year crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. A “humanitarian corridor” initiative, started following an agreement signed by the Italian government and several religious and non-governmental organizations, is providing a small number of refugees with safe travel and visas to Italy, along with housing and resettlement assistance upon arrival. (more...)


How can we promote greater access to maternal health?

Measuring the Value of Insurance and Maternal Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Dandora, Kenya

Residents of Dandora, a sprawling section of Nairobi dominated by a massive garbage dump, contend with high unemployment, food insecurity, violence, poor health, and environmental issues.  (more...)

How can we promote the inclusion of youth?

Kenyan Youth Scenarios Workshops

In 2010 and 2011, several hundred Kenyan youth leaders and activists took part in a series of weeklong workshops designed to help them envision how young people could shape the country 20 years in the future. (more...)

How do women overcome abusive relationships?

Empowering Pregnant Women in Lima, Peru

Many Peruvian women report experiencing physical or sexual violence in long-term romantic relationships, and studies have identified pregnancy as a time of particularly high risk for victimization. That violence carries risks for both mother and child during pregnancy and postpartum. (more...)


How do schools promote good citizens?

Education and Citizenship in Kenya

Education is thought to contribute to citizenship formation by inculcating a sense of nationalism, but also by spurring citizen engagement through the diffusion of political knowledge, the contribution to internal efficacy, and the encouragement of political participation. In an ideal world, education can build trust towards fellow citizens. (more...)


Collaborative for Econometrics and Integrated Development Studies (CEIDS)


The Collaborative for Econometrics and Integrated Development Studies (CEIDS) is a community of researchers integrating shared Judeo-Christian faith and values with work that seeks to equip, evaluate, and encourage the relief and development arms of the global church.                                        

Centered at the Ford Family Program within the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the collaborative is creating a global community of empirical researchers based both domestically and in low- and middle-income countries. CEIDS aims to encompass a virtual network of scholars committed to activating the values of the community into research, service, and teaching related to international development and the work of faith-based development institutions worldwide. 


We work with partner organizations and community members to identify key concerns and invite researchers to investigate such challenges with the aim of offering sustainable solutions. The Ford Program works with a variety of implementing organizations, maintaining a special relationship with the Congregation of Holy Cross, which founded Notre Dame, and the communities Holy Cross serves around the world.


Caritas Kenya
Catholic Relief Services
Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), Kenya
Congregation of Holy Cross
Faculty of Business Administration and Management, Uganda Martyrs University
Holy Cross Parish, Dandora, Kenya
Institute for Educational Initiatives, University of Notre Dame
Luigi Giussani Institute for Higher Education (LGIHE)
Pulte Institute for Global Development
Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya
UGAFODE Microfinance Limited (MDI), Uganda
Uganda Martyrs University (UMU)
UPFORD (University Partnership For Outreach, Research and Development), Uganda
Verizon Foundation

Ford Program Newsletters



The Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity

Bestowed by the Kellogg Institute’s Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, the Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity recognizes individuals or organizations that stand in solidarity with those in deepest need. Awardees learn from those they serve, working together with them as they become agents of their own change.

Ford Family Notre Dame Award recipients are honored for substantial contribution to the promotion of international human development through research, practice, public service, or philanthropy.

Click here for award recipients.