Amartya Sen Honored for Human Development Work by the Kellogg Institute’s Ford Program
The Nobel Prize–winning economist and philosopher Amartya Sen received the 2012 Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity at a campus ceremony on April 17.
University Provost Thomas Burish, in presenting the award, lauded Sen for being the “voice for people who have no voice.”
“You are devoted to integrating the intellectual life and a life of action,” said Rev. Robert A. Dowd, CSC, director of the Institute’s Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, which bestowed the award. “Your research addresses real-world problems and promotes respect for human dignity and human freedom.”
“Amartya Sen’s concept of ‘development as freedom’ exemplifies the values at the core of the mission of the University of Notre Dame and the Ford Program,” said Kellogg Executive Director Steve Reifenberg. “His enormously important work complements how we approach development at the Kellogg Institute.”
“The world is nasty and unjust in many different ways,” Sen said in a sold-out public address on campus in which he demonstrated his remarkable intellectual breadth and curiosity. “Our ability to live in this world depends on our ability to see the many ways people are impoverished.” He urged audience members to remedy serious problems of global development by first understanding them.
A visionary and spirited advocate for the world’s poorest people, Sen has worked for 50 years to illuminate the true causes of poverty and suffering. He has transformed how development is defined and measured by focusing attention on positive freedoms and human capabilities rather than income alone.
The Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity recognizes individuals or organizations that stand in solidarity with those in deepest need as they become agents of their own change. Recipients are honored for substantial contribution to the promotion of international human development through research, practice, public service, or philanthropy.
In his Award citation, Sen was honored “for showing that there can be no truly human development without respect for human dignity, human rights and human agency,” for “placing his amazing intellectual skills at the service of others”—and for inspiring young people to dedicate themselves to human development.
“If you are like me, Professor Sen’s work has inspired you to address difficult problems that you might otherwise avoid,” Dowd told audience members. “May we never avoid problems because they are difficult or because they do not affect us directly.”
The recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize for his innovations in welfare economics, Sen had been heralded as “the conscience of economics.” His revolutionary work helped to shape the UN’s human development index (HDI), a widely used composite statistic for measuring well-being and quality of life.
Tackling issues of food distribution, global health, violence and peace, education, and gender inequality, Sen merges theoretical and empirical research on poverty and its complex causes with advocacy. His influential books, including the landmark Development as Freedom (1999), are read in more than 30 languages around the world.
The Lamont University Professor at Harvard University, where he also holds appointments in economics and philosophy, Sen has taught at major universities around the world. A citizen of India, he is a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an honorary advisor to Oxfam International.
During his childhood in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), Sen attended Dhaka’s St. Gregory’s High School, run by the Congregation of Holy Cross, the same Catholic religious order that founded Notre Dame.
Housed in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the Ford Program promotes the interdisciplinary study of human development. Through research, teaching, and community engagement, the Ford Program aims to understand extreme poverty and the conditions that affect human welfare.
Sen’s visit to Notre Dame was a collaborative effort of the Kellogg Institute and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. While on campus, Sen delivered the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, Lecture in Ethics and Public Policy, the 18th annual lecture in a series established by the Kroc Institute.
Contacts: Tony Pohlen, assistant director, Ford Program, 574-631-7022 or email@example.com