2010 Conference Focuses on the Power of People, from the Local to the International Community

On February 26 and 27, 2010, over 300 bright young minds gathered to share and discuss their experiences and research at the second annual Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame.

Organized by students for students, the conference drew undergraduate and graduate student presenters and attendees from across the country and as far away as Uganda to engage in discussion about global progress toward authentic human development. 

HDCThe theme for this year’s conference, “People, Power, and Pragmatism: The Future of Development in Our Changing World, called participants to identify the landscape of current development efforts; analyze successes and challenges of the past; and synergize their experiences into a view of the future of sustainable human development. Eighty students presented research they had conducted in 38 countries. Attendees came from 38 colleges and universities across the globe.

From the opening session, the conference challenged presenters and attendees to explore outside the confines of their own fields of study and expose themselves to new ideas and ways of thinking about development.  With panel topics ranging from healthcare to education to reconciliation, participants had the opportunity to uncover the diverse disciplines that authentic development requires.

Joseph Sebarenzi, the former speaker of the Rwandan Parliament, gave the keynote address, speaking passionately about his experience as a genocide survivor and his unwavering efforts to create reconciliation, peace, and development in Rwanda and the world.  Eloquently conveying the principles necessary for authentic human development—solidarity and a commitment to the common good—he left the audience moved by his resilience, faith, and hope in humanity.

Ray Chambers, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria, spoke Friday evening on his commitment to the Millennium Promise and Malaria No More.  Other highlights included a new “Speed Networking” component that allowed attendees to engage in conversation with development practitioners, poster presentations, and a closing banquet.

Participants were enthusiastic about the weekend experience. 

“This conference gave me the inspiration to return home with a recommitment to my research and work in development,” one student declared.

Members of the student committee that organized the conference hope it is only the beginning of a longer conversation between student presenters, students, and the greater global community on the challenges of authentic human development and the role of youth in meeting that challenge.

The Human Development Conference was hosted by the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies in collaboration with the Center for Social Concerns and the SIT Study Abroad, a program of World Learning.