Student conference to explore human development and potential

by Abbie Naus and Hannah Reiser

Human Development Conference 2012

The fourth annual Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame will bring together hundreds of students and guests from Notre Dame and universities as far away as Uganda to share their research experiences in the developing world and discuss the meaning of authentic human development from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Organized by students for students, the conference will be held Feb. 10 and 11 (Friday and Saturday) in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies on the Notre Dame campus.

This year’s theme, “Faces Behind the Figures: Visions of Prosperity, Progress and Human Potential,” seeks to explore the meaning of human-centric development and how the real, everyday experiences of people merge with statistical indicators of poverty and development.

Students will present their research in the context of broader development themes, including youth, development and empowerment; sustainable engineering and environmental practice; challenges in global health; and business and commerce in the developing world. Participants will explore interdisciplinary, holistic approaches to improving livelihoods and advancing human dignity.

Mark Wexler, executive director of Not For Sale, a movement committed to the abolition of modern slavery, will deliver the keynote address on Saturday evening. Before co-founding the organization in 2006, Wexler worked in Durban, South Africa, with Umthombo, a nonprofit organization that empowers former street children through advocacy.

Sponsored by the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the conference is co-sponsored by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns and SIT Study Abroad, a program of World Learning. The majority of the student research to be presented was facilitated by conference sponsors.

Contacts: Kristi Lax-Walker, Ford Program, 574-631-3744,; Elizabeth Rankin, writer/editor, Kellogg Institute, 574-631-9184,