Moral clarity matters.
At the Center for Values in International Development (the Center) we
Elevate the awareness, understanding, and essential role of a values-based discourse in international relief & development
Integrate ethics pragmatically to inform all aspects of relief & development activities
Advocate for the regular use of applied ethics to yield more just, caring, equitable, and sustainable development outcomes and processes
The Center envisions a global movement towards respect for universal human dignity, under which ethics holds a pragmatic and influential role.
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.
Development, Dialogue, and Doing This “Right”
“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 […]
Development is not a Device
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 […]
More than a Reckoning: Still Crying Out for Change in Foreign Aid
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 […]
But our lives matter more, right?
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 […]
When the Insurrectionists Came to Town: Reflections on our Cultural Blight and Reclaiming Shared Values
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
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 […]
Do No Harm
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 […]
An unseemly rush for legacy at USAID
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 […]
David A. Crocker: Human development should be guided by norms and values
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 […]
Self, Other, and Ethics of Care in International Development
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,” […]