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Hackett highlights growth

Tori Roeck | Friday, November 16, 2012

In preparation for meetings of the Advisory Board of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Ken Hackett, former president of Catholic Relief Services, and Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America and 1971 Notre Dame graduate, presented suggestions for how Notre Dame can better contribute to human development worldwide.

Hackett said Notre Dame’s Catholic faith should ground its international development efforts, especially in light of the Vatican’s emphasis on “New Evangelization.”

“[New Evangelization is] about a new energy towards the revival of faith in the context of today’s culture,” Hackett said.

At a Vatican synod concerning the topic, representatives from the Church around the world presented the issues most threatening to Catholic faith in their areas, such as secularization in North America and Europe and radical Islam and tribal conflicts in Africa, Hackett said.

“As Notre Dame strives to evolve an international strategy that embodies the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and that creates linkages with the Church and other institutions, I would suggest that Notre Dame … has to take into consideration many of these views and realities that the Church has identified as part of the New Evangelization,” he said.

To do so, Hackett said the Kellogg Institute should devote resources to researching non-traditional approaches to human development as well as to shaping public policy.

In addition, the University as a whole should shift focus from many small, disparate programs in scattered regions of the world to a few big projects focused on particular regions.

“Bring the whole University behind something and stick to it,” Hackett said. “Small projects don’t make an impact, and this University has the capability to have a major impact on human development”

Hackett said a good example of this strategy is the Notre Dame Haiti Program, which draws on different strengths within Notre Dame to make an impact on a small geographic area.

Offenheiser, stressed the complicated nature of human development and said it requires a complex response that reflects its nature, especially in today’s world.

“In many ways, to simply define what human development is in today’s context, I would say perhaps it’s about states providing basic public goods to their citizens at scale, in education, health and perhaps environmental services,” he said.

For Notre Dame to best address the many facets of human development, Offenheiser said the University must pick out its strengths and use them to effect change.

He identified some of these strengths as the University’s Catholic faith, strong background in human rights and work with corporate responsibility.

The University should also tailor its development efforts to empowering governments themselves and enabling communities to thrive on their own, he said.

“Good development actually occurs when people own the process, think about, plan and own the process, taking risks as they do it, failing sometimes, but ultimately when they succeed, you get development on a secure course going forward,” Offenheiser said.

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