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Conference to address human development

Anna Boarini | Thursday, February 9, 2012

Students and faculty from around the world will gather at Notre Dame this weekend for the fourth annual Human Development Conference.

The conference, sponsored by the Ford Family Program and Kellogg Institute, will cover everything from the environmental impact of development to information technology.

Publicist Abbie Naus said the conference engages students and faculty in an interdisciplinary session of panels and contests.

“The cool thing about the conference is that it encompasses pretty much every discipline and that is why we encourage students to come,” she said. “It makes you see how whatever you are doing can have a contribution to development.”

Naus said this year’s theme, “Faces Behind the Figures: Visions of Prosperity, Progress and Human Potential” was inspired by the poem “Those Little Numbers and People” by Eduardo Galeano. The poem explores how statistical indicators of poverty and development reveal deeper meaning in individual lives, she said.

“With this idea, we as a conference are focusing on human-centric development and … everyday experiences of the individuals being represented by [statistical] figures,” she said. “We want to show that development can be focused more on people.”

Conference events include traditional panels as well as a photo contest, Naus said.

Students submitted photos focused on the different aspects of development, Naus said.

“The categories for the photo contest are ‘faces of development’ and ‘family away from home,'” Naus said.

Photojournalist Johann Rousselot will serve as judge for the photo contest. Naus said Rousselot’s work conveys the inequities that exist in human rights.

“Some of his latest work includes his contribution to the Dignité Project published by Amnesty International and Oiel Public in 2010,” she said.

Max Wexler, a co-founder of Not For Sale, will deliver the keynote address of the conference, Naus said. Not For Sale is a movement to end modern day slavery.

“Before starting Not For Sale, he worked with street children in South Africa and we are really excited to have him speak,” she said.

Naus said the participation of these people, along with the diverse group of students and faculty, supports the conference’s goal of raising as much awareness about human development as possible.

“All on the committee share a passion for development and we want to share that passion with the campus in general and the conference presenters,” she said.