Tim Bradley, Staff Writer

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies sponsored a lecture titled, “How Can a University Promote Integral Human Development?” on November 15 in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. The lecture was given by former president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Ken Hackett and included commentary by Notre Dame alumnus Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization.

Paolo Carozza, Professor of Law and director of the Kellogg Institute, kicked off the event, stating that the theme of human development has “always been one of the key focuses of the institute since its inception.” While the Kellogg Institute’s attention has been focused elsewhere of late, Carozza said that the institute is trying very hard to catch up with studies of human development.

Having been introduced as a graduate of Boston College, Hackett garnered a few laughs by offering his thanks and, speaking to his frequent visits to Notre Dame as a result of Notre Dame’s important efforts in human development, saying that“It’s getting to feel like home!”

Hackett began by stating that Notre Dame should think about human development from the perspective of the Catholic Church, channeling the focus and energy of the New Evangelization into development efforts. He discussed the ways in which Catholicism looks different in different places – For example, the contrast in cultural primacy between the Asian Church and the Latin American Church.  To develop an international strategy for human development, those involved in such efforts have to consider the realities of inculturated faith around the world. According to Hackett, “Catholic universities, like Catholic charitable organizations, are a critical part of this New Evangelization.”

Hackett described in more detail what exactly is meant by human development, and why universities have an important role to play. Human development is very complex, he said, and, “It ain’t easy!”

British economist Owen Barter has suggested that the traditional way of looking at human development has not been satisfactory. Rather than measuring human development in purely economic terms, society should focus on integral human development: the development of the whole person rather than just a person’s economic standard of living. Hackett offered four building blocks of human development: economics, democracy, religion, and community engagement. He said that even this breakdown fails to grasp the complexity of integral human development, but it is a good start.

Connections between universities are critical, and even more important are connections with real practitioners on the ground. Of Notre Dame Hackett said, “This great university has connections to real, significant, and trusted assets on the ground that are being mobilized.” Hackett cited the Holy Cross presence in many places across the world, the ACE program’s contribution to the reorganization of Catholic education in Haiti, and the Eck Institute for Global Health as examples of Notre Dame partnering with the worldwide community in a way that promotes human development.

Hackett further elaborated on ways in which Notre Dame and other institutions can help.  Using empirical data to delve into and compile best practice methods would be an extremely useful contribution, he said. Furthermore, researching aid effectiveness from the private sector and offering recommendations for efficient use of available resources are two more ways in which Notre Dame can provide invaluable assistance. Hackett believes that “Catholic colleges and universities, and Notre Dame in particular, have much more to offer public policy than we have seen. You can change policy. Notre Dame does have something to offer.”

Hackett offered this advice in closing: get in sync with the direction of the Church, continue to study nontraditional approaches to human development, engage with people and build strong relationships founded on trust, collaborate with CRS and other similar institutions, and make a deliberate effort to influence public policy. He concluded, “The powerful good that this university can ignite is amazing! The potential to make lasting contributions is within your grasp.”

Offenheiser agreed with and reinforced Hackett’s strong message while offering a few comments of his own. He emphasized that development work is complicated and requires long-term relationships and commitments. He concluded by reminding his audience of the enormous value of Catholic social teaching in the public policy discussion, and encouraged Notre Dame to continue to demand that people in positions of power exercise a moral voice.

Tim Bradley is a freshman theology and economics major who did not move for hours after Thanksgiving dinner. If you felt the same way and would like to talk about it, contact him at tbradle5@nd.edu.