Category: Reflections on Development

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 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 […]

Do No Harm

Do No Harm blackboard with text "first do no harm" and signature Hippocrates

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 […]

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

David A. Crocker: Human development should be guided by norms and values a dictionary page with the word Ethics highlighted

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 […]

Libertarian Choice, Moral Relativism, or Social Obligation: The World of COVID-19

Libertarian Choice, Moral Relativism, or Social Obligation: The World of COVID-19 two women in masks wait to cross the street

Over the past couple of months, the world has been thrown into an unprecedented situation unlike any circumstance we have ever encountered. While our daily lifestyles have been altered in unimaginable ways, we are increasingly aware that reconciling our lost sense of normalcy in society depends upon our adherence to safety guidelines and protocols. Though […]

Listen to the Next Generation’s Voices!

Listen to the Next Generation’s Voices! youth demonstrate with a sign saying "sea levels are rising but so are we!"

“Youth Activism is on the rise across the globe.” “Young people are angry.” Such headlines appear prominently across the United States, pointing to young people as beacons of hope, energized both by anger and by eternal optimism. Whether it is Emma Gonzalez’s heart wrenching moment of silence at the March for Our Lives protest, or […]

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