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Conference explores development, business, service

| Friday, February 28, 2014

HDRconference GRAPHICKeri O'Mara | The Observer
The sixth annual Human Development Conference at Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies will take place this weekend from Feb. 28 to March 1.

The theme of this year’s student-led conference is “Transforming Development: New Actors, Innovative Technologies & Emerging Trends,” according to conference co-chair and senior Eddie Linczer.

“No matter if your interest is healthcare or gender issues, failed states, emerging technologies, there is a wide range of panels,” he said. “There’s really something for everybody.”

A main goal of the conference is to encourage discussion on the theme of forming development, Linczer said. He said he hopes the conference engages all the participants, who will come from Notre Dame, around the country and around the world.

“I think a lot of Notre Dame students are involved in development, very interested in social justice and [they] have also been involved in Kellogg student programs, in the Center for Social Concern’s programs or in study abroad programs in the developing world,” Linczer said.

Delegations will travel from places as far as India and Uganda. Dennis Haraszko, associate program director of the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, said Notre Dame maintains partnerships for research initiatives and programs with universities in these countries.

“One of the ways we think we can support their work and support our interest in building a community of scholars interested in development is to partner with them and bring people from their university to participate in this conference,” Haraszko said.

According to the Kellogg website, the theme of this year’s conference was inspired by the evolution of development and the constant introduction of new technologies. Linczer said he and his fellow co-chair, senior John Gibbons, were inspired by their time spent studying abroad in China.

“In our time in the developed world, we really were fascinated by new inventions like SMS banking … and how these low-cost technologies are really transforming the way business can be conducted,” he said. “We’re really interested in new methodologies to measure the effectiveness of aid in development programs.”

Linczer said the committee chose a broad theme in order to demonstrate inclusion to all forms of research, including science, engineering and policy.

“Eddie and John basically wanted to think about how, what’s the best way to present new trends in development and what are some of the factors that are at play in international economic development,” Haraszko said.

Haraszko said about six to seven subthemes revolve around the theme of transforming development, he said. These themes focus on collaboration, mobile technology, community interactions and projects with NGOs.

“I just think it’s great to hear what the experience students have had, what research questions have sort of peaked their interest and then what they learned as they investigated those questions,” Haraszko said. “I think one of the main reasons to put on this conference is to encourage passion and interest in international development and in community development.

“This conference provides a forum for students to become excited about the whole field. And I think to the extent that we can promote that, that’s what’s exciting.”

The Human Development Conference allows students to gain interest in topics and issues of concern that then merit further investigation and further conversation, Haraszko said. If students gain interest and passion as a result, they can then pursue further training to answer their questions in greater depth, he said.

“That’s the great piece of it in my mind,” Haraszko said. “I see this as the first step.”

According to Therese Hanlon, events program manager of the Kellogg Institute, the conference averages around 200 to 300 students each year, and in the past, the administration has had to cut off registration due to capacity concerns.

“We’re actually exceeding previous years right now in the pace of registrations and building at a fairly steady rate,” she said.

The conference, which includes panel sessions, documentary screenings, posters and meals, begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

To register for the conference, visit kellogg.nd.edu

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