Higher Education & Global Development – A Conversation at the Notre Dame Summit

March 29, 2018

In some sense ,“critical” development points to a tradition that is anti-hegemonic, questioning, and concerned about dominant forms of engagement with “development.” In another sense, “critical” development points to development that is most needed, that is vital – the kind of structural changes that lead to lives longer lived.


Individuals with roots in both of these approaches will be central to the initial evening conversation at GSL5: Dignity and Justice in Global Service-Learning.

We will hear from Jennifer Lentfer, identified on her Twitter handle as “(re)sister of ahistorical or apolitical social change efforts,” Director of Communications for 1,000 Currents, and one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s “100 Women to Follow on Twitter” in 2012. Jennifer is also the author of a recent book, Smart Risks, and a prolific reflective writer. She has recently shared, “My conflicted relation to expertise” and “Two ideas to retire” (spoiler alert: empower, capacity-building).

We will also hear from Sara Sievers, Associate Dean for Policy and Practice at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and an experienced development professional, advisor, and researcher. Sievers has a keen understanding of the power of global initiatives and investments to cut in half: the rate of women dying in childbirth, the global poverty rate, and the rate of people living under $1 per day. Citing this data, Sievers insists, “there are many reasons to be optimistic about our capacity to do good in the world.” Sievers has advised the government of Nigeria on implementing the Millennium Development Goals, led global health and advocacy efforts at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and served in the Foreign Service, among other achievements.

Lentfer and Sievers are part of a panel during our first evening together:

“Higher Education & Global Development: What’s the Intersection?” – Sunday, April 15, 7 pm

Panelists include Jennifer Lentfer—Director of Communications, Thousand Currents; and Sara Sievers—Associate Dean of Policy & Practice, Notre Dame Keough School for Global Affairs. Facilitated by Rachel Tomas Morgan – Associate Director, Center for Social Concerns, University of Notre Dame; and Nora Pillard Reynolds—Editor of globalsl and Fellow for Ethical Global Learning at Haverford College

Drawing on their varied experiences working in global development – across multiple countries and sectors, across difference in organizations, scale, and approaches – leaders will “pull back the curtain” to share their own journeys. Through exploring their own learning, hopes, and misgivings about global development, they will raise tough questions about how we, as individuals and institutions of higher education, work to make the world a better place. Through a facilitated conversation, they will examine the intersection of institutions of higher education and global development initiatives, paying particular attention to the role of undergraduate education. Critically reflecting on their lived experience and the evolution of the field, they will consider possible contributions that universities can and do make to global development along with how to prepare our future global leaders. ​

The conversation promises to be stimulating and engaging, for anyone interested in the question of how higher education should relate to the co-creation of just and sustainable communities in the world today.

Check out the full GSL 5 schedule here.

If you can’t make it to the Summit (sorry to miss you), there will be Global Service-Learning Institutes this summer on the West Coast (June, University of San Diego, San Diego) and East Coast (August, Haverford College, just outside Philadelphia). These are smaller, more intimate gatherings that provide space for course and program development.

If you’re interested in critical questions at the intersection of higher education and global development, I hope to see you in two weeks at Notre Dame … and/or later this summer!

Eric Hartman is lead author of Community-based global learning: The theory and practice of ethical engagement at home and abroad (Stylus Press: use code CBGL20 at checkout for 20% off book until 5/30/2018), co-founder of globalsl, and Executive Director of the Haverford College Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. He is looking forward to continuing conversations on educating for global citizenship at the 5th Global Service-Learning Summit: Dignity and Justice in Global Service-Learning, at Notre Dame, from April 15 – 17. 

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