USAID: Owning the Moral Agenda in the Global Pandemic Response

USAID: Owning the Moral Agenda in the Global Pandemic Response doctor and patient review paperwork

Globally, and especially in the least affluent countries in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to push the demand for moral clarity in decision-making to ever higher standards of transparency and accountability. Within international relief and development policy and practice, ethical concerns become much more difficult to tackle when multiple demands are placed on limited […]

What is “development ethics”?

What is “development ethics”? people gather around a table

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, […]

Pride’s Moral and Existential Global Moment

Pride’s Moral and Existential Global Moment rainbow flag and the words "pride month" written in rainbow text

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 […]

Pandemic Changes, from Routines to Values

Pandemic Changes, from Routines to Values a section of the globe with lines coming out of it

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 […]

Development and Diplomacy: Expanding USAID’s Effectiveness on Human Rights

Development and Diplomacy: Expanding USAID’s Effectiveness on Human Rights Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Declaration of Human Rights poster in English.

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 […]

Development, Dialogue, and Doing This “Right”

Development, Dialogue, and Doing This “Right” a laptop open to zoom with a mug sitting next to it

“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

Development is not a Device a woman points at a wall of post-it notes

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

More than a Reckoning: Still Crying Out for Change in Foreign Aid logos of the world bank, peace corps, imf, and several others

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?

But our lives matter more, right? gloved hands draw up a syringe

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

When the Insurrectionists Came to Town: Reflections on our Cultural Blight and Reclaiming Shared Values insurgents gather outside the US Capitol

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 […]

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