Students from across the country and the world will present original research this Friday and Saturday at the seventh annual Human Development Conference.
Senior and conference co-chair Christopher Newton said the conference’s basic goals are the same as any other academic conference: “dissemination of research, networking of researchers and sharing experiences and methods.”
However, what makes this conference unique are the students presenting, Newton said. The conference will be composed of primarily undergraduates, both from all over the country and some from the nations of Uganda and India, he said.
“These are undergrads, and a lot of them have conducted field work,” Newton said. “They’ve actually gone out to these countries and engaged with the people most closely involved [with these issues]. That’s a very difficult undertaking, so sharing how you go about that and what your experiences were is really valuable at this early stage of people’s development with that type of work.”
Junior and conference co-chair Maggie Guzman said the diversity of participants at the conference will foster discussion throughout the weekend.
“The purpose [of the Human Development Conference] is to create an environment of discussion, of debate, focusing on the future of development,” Guzman said. “This is a very interdisciplinary conference. We have students from all over the world and representing different majors. And they’re talking about different topics.”
The inspiration behind the conference’s theme of “envision, enact, evaluate” was inspired by the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and the work to develop the Sustainable Development Goals to take their place, Newton said.
“There’s the big picture [at the conference] of international development at large heading towards a crossroads,” he said.
Jeffrey Sachs, who was highly involved in the creation of the Millennium Development Goals, will give the conference’s keynote address. The conference also boasts 16 different panels throughout the weekend, each of which addresses a different area of development, Newton said.
“You could be going to a global health panel, and you could be getting national healthcare provision in Mexico and treatment of lymphatic filariasis in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “… That’s what we love personally about it — it’s just incredible the things that people are doing.”
Even those who are not interested in doing research in development will benefit from listening to their peers at the conference, Guzman said.
“It doesn’t just have to be only research, but if you’re interested in doing an internship, going abroad — getting a feel for the culture, the problems, the politics involved, the state of development in that region — that’s also very important,” she said. “We have very big focus and representation from all of the different areas around the world, so even if you have a slight interest in exploring the world, this is a great way to get exposed to the problems we are currently facing internationally.”
Students are required to register for the conference if they plan to attend the event’s keynote address. Registration and more information on the conference is located on the Kellogg Institute’s website.