Category: Reflections on Development

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 […]

The Distant Spring: Philosophy and Social Innovation

The Distant Spring: Philosophy and Social Innovation a wooden door with a window. on the window is taped a rainbow drawn in crayon

Eight variations for thinking about social innovation and sustainability transitions during the coronavirus crisis In response to the harm done to birds by the widespread use of pesticides, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring (1962). Her account of the “silencing of the birds” helped motivate a flock of social innovation via the emerging environmental movement. Spring 2020 has […]

What American Cops can learn from the end of South Africa’s Apartheid Policing: From Force to Service

What American Cops can learn from the end of South Africa’s Apartheid Policing: From Force to Service a line of parallel-parked police cars on the street

During South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, I was directly involved in the transformation of the police force to a police service. Today, as the United States is confronted with the need for changes in police culture and behavior, perhaps some of the lessons learned in those tumultuous times may prove useful.   After Nelson Mandela was released from […]

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