Moral clarity matters.

At the Center for Values in International Development (the Center) we

line drawing of a person climbing a sequence of columns to reach a flag


Elevate the awareness, understanding, and essential role of a values-based discourse in international relief & development

line drawing of a lightbulb and gears


Integrate ethics pragmatically to inform all aspects of relief & development activities

line drawing of a hand holding a megaphone


Advocate for the regular use of applied ethics to yield more just, caring, equitable, and sustainable development outcomes and processes

Our Vision

The Center envisions a global movement towards respect for universal human dignity, under which ethics holds a pragmatic and influential role.

Our Mission

Centering values in international relief & development.

The Center is redefining the current relief & development paradigm so that ethics takes a front-seat. The Center applies moral considerations and ethical analyses to achieve more just, caring, equitable, and sustainable processes and outcomes. The Center works with governments, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, foundations, and development practitioners to incorporate ethics into all aspects of their activities to foster human flourishing and a healthy environment.

a laptop open to zoom with a mug sitting next to it

Development, Dialogue, and Doing This “Right”

By Stacy Kosko | March 22, 2021

“Do no harm” suddenly no longer seems good enough as the guiding moral principle for international development and relief. Today, much to the surprise of many old international development hands, Washington, DC is immersed in a burgeoning moral discourse (mostly via Zoom).  We find ourselves sifting through concepts of values and what seems to be […]

a woman points at a wall of post-it notes

Development is not a Device

By Guest | March 10, 2021

As I so often tell my students, every country is a developing country; every society hosts communities of struggle.  If we understand development as beneficial social change, it transforms our understanding of who is part of this effort and how it operates. Too often we define development by the form in which aid is delivered—foreign […]

logos of the world bank, peace corps, imf, and several others

More than a Reckoning: Still Crying Out for Change in Foreign Aid

By Guest | February 23, 2021

A vibrant exchange of views is now taking place in Washington, DC, home to the largest concentration of people, firms, non-profits, and other institutions engaged in what we have come to view as the “international development industry”. With the upcoming Senate hearings on the nomination of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power […]

gloved hands draw up a syringe

But our lives matter more, right?

By Chloe Schwenke, PhD (President) | January 29, 2021

Boundaries matter – politically and morally. Governments generally limit their focus to attending to the needs and aspirations of their own citizens, all within the context of national borders, and in anticipation of or in response to the threats and opportunities coming from outside those borders. The sophisticated institutions of diplomacy, defense, and global trade […]

insurgents gather outside the US Capitol

When the Insurrectionists Came to Town: Reflections on our Cultural Blight and Reclaiming Shared Values

By Phil Crehan | January 15, 2021

Called on by the President of the United States, the insurrectionists came to our nation’s capital and made their violent intentions abundantly clear by desecrating our Capitol Building. As would make sense, this has dominated the public conversation over the past week, with many in power trying to hold a corrupt president to account. Although […]

Statement from the Center for Values in International Development on the Democratic Crisis in the United States

By Chloe Schwenke, PhD (President) | January 10, 2021

Seldom in our recent history has the United States engaged in such a profound and urgent discourse on the meaning, significance, and relevance of our shared values as a nation. Since the appalling assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, our urgent reflection about our identity as citizens of a mature democracy – on […]

blackboard with text "first do no harm" and signature Hippocrates

Do No Harm

By Chloe Schwenke, PhD (President) | January 9, 2021

The medical profession in the West has relied on the Hippocratic Oath for roughly 2,500 years.  Verbose at 183 words (in the 1923 Loeb edition), the Oath is frequently distilled to just four words: “First do no harm”. This wise and important maxim is worthy of emulation. While not being a member of the medical […]

a girl sits with her head bowed and hand on top of her head, holding a sign saying "I'm not for sale"

An unseemly rush for legacy at USAID

By Chloe Schwenke, PhD (President) | December 14, 2020

The clock is about to strike midnight on the Trump administration’s federal grip on American governance, including at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Mid-December following the election of a new administration is typically a time of transition for all federal agencies and departments, where the priority shifts to getting papers and briefing notes […]

a dictionary page with the word Ethics highlighted

David A. Crocker: Human development should be guided by norms and values

By Guest | November 11, 2020

This piece first appeared in the joint ISC-UNDP project Rethinking Human Development, 2020. You have worked for many years on the ethical dimensions of development and know very well the trajectory of the capabilities approach. How do you think we should rethink the concept of human development in the current context? I believe that the current […]

arms and hands of several shades grasp each others' wrists

Self, Other, and Ethics of Care in International Development

By admin | October 7, 2020

In my current research on international development, I’ve concluded that the feminist theorist and moral philosopher Serene J. Khader presents the most engaging, fresh, and thought-provoking perspective on the issues that international development practitioners face in their work[note]. According to her, such practitioners often engage, either knowingly or unknowingly, in what she terms “unjustified unconscious paternalism,” […]

The Center for Values in International Development
1919 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 425
Washington, DC 20006

Registered as a nonprofit organization in the District of Columbia, USA, and tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.