Hesburgh Center to Host Human Development Conference

Author: Connor Kobeski


The global challenges we face and our prospects for the future will be the key topics for discussion at the Human Development Conference to take place this weekend. Trade, health, migration, and the environment are only a handful of the topics to be covered. Conference organizers hope that by discussing these topics attendees will better understand the “inextricable links that tie our lives together.”

Sixty-four people working in these fields from universities and countries around the world will speak during a series of panel sessions over the two days. Highlights of the conference will include remarks by Ray Chambers, UN Secretary General’s First Special Envoy for Malaria and the closing banquet with Joseph Sebarenzi.

Multiple panel sessions are centered on addressing environmental issues and sustainable development including case studies in agricultural food security, technologies for bringing electricity to rural communities, and water management techniques. The challenges of human development are deeply intertwined with the challenges of natural resource and environmental sustainability. Conference organizer, Jeremy Tamargo issued the following statement on behalf of everyone involved:

In the global context, we recognize that sustainable development must be an integral component of our efforts to realize authentic human development for all. In striving to place the dignity of each and every human person at the center of our work, we must not forget that we also have that very same obligation to the future generations of this world. We must be responsible for the preservation of our most precious resource, the Earth, if we hope to achieve a just and dignified standard of living for all. In accordance with the distinctive Catholic mission of this University, the Human Development Conference at Notre Dame seeks to create an atmosphere in which “assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances” (Papal Address on World Day of Peace, January 1, 2008).

We think globally, but we also act locally. Achieving our global vision starts by recognizing our own human agency on the local level. We should never forget how much an impact the little things we do make. We needn’t think we need to do something grand to make a difference – it is about the little acts of commitment we make on a daily basis. During the lead up to the conference, strong emphasis was placed on using electronic document sharing to significantly reduce our use of paper. In order to minimize unnecessary food waste, our online registration form was specifically designed with a component to accurately gauge attendance numbers for each meal session. In creating the menu for the weekend, we strove for simplicity and sustainability in our meal selections. Finally, use of the widely available recycling bins at the venue will be strongly encouraged throughout this weekend’s events. Through these small but important initiatives, we are striving to play our part as stewards of this Earth to realize the vision of sustainable development for all focused on the dignity of the human being.

Conference organizers stress that our hopes for a better world will only be achieved through cooperation on all levels, including interdisciplinary research and discussion right here at Notre Dame. The vision is that dialogue concerning human development will extend beyond this weekend to cultivate creative solutions.

The conference will run from Friday, February 26 – Saturday, February 27 in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. The HDC is sponsored by the Ford Family Program, SIT Study Abroad, and the Center for Social Concerns. See the Conference Program for a full schedule of events and visit the HDC Website for further information.