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.
Each area of practice generates important ethical questions about priorities and procedures, rights and responsibilities. This holds true also for work in local, national and international development. ‘Development ethics’ can be understood then as discussion of the many and varied ethical questions that arise in development work. It is a field comparable to business ethics, […]
Paradigms – and the values that they are based on – are neither fixed nor immutable. In this country, a shift in the norms that long defined the systemic and entrenched exclusion of one demographic began with a communal act of saying no, but it quickly led to a powerful affirmation of yes. We now […]
The sociologist David Freeman, professor at Colorado State University, described in his book Technology and Society (1976) the four stages in the introduction of new technologies in daily life, both in the production of goods and services and in the consumption thereof. His description of these stages can also be used to explain what happens […]
Human rights exist in two overlapping worlds – moral and legal. Nobel Laureate economist and philosopher Amartya Sen observed that from the perspective of traditional economics… “moral rights or freedoms command very little interest; at best they are perceived as purely legal entities of instrumental use only”. Of course, Sen has gone on to secure […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]