Generous donors helped the Stevenson Center raise $2,500 in honor of its 25th anniversary, and those funds enabled Fellows to attend the 2020 Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies.
On February 21 and 22, 10 of the current Stevenson Center Fellows took time away from their classes to learn more about issues such as mass migration, resource scarcity, and climate change. Fellows are pursuing master’s degrees in anthropology, applied economics, political science, kinesiology and recreation, or sociology, each with an interdisciplinary sequence in applied community and economic development. Before joining the Stevenson Center, Fellows must have at least a year or relevant experience, often gained through programs like Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.
The conference’s theme for 2020 was “development on the move,” emphasizing how development work is changing in the dynamic, ever-moving world we live in. The keynote speaker for the conference was former Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page, who had previously worked on the negotiation team that helped end the Sudanese Civil War.
Page’s words of advice and wisdom were very powerful and helpful to keep in mind, as Stevenson Center Fellows are trying to make the world a better place through economic and community development. Page encouraged participants to welcome as many voices as possible into conversations about development. She gave examples from her work, such as trying to relocate negotiation meetings to places that would bring in more voices from people across Sudan. Fellows talked with Page directly, which was especially fruitful as several want to work in international development, for example through the State Department.
The rest of the conference had small panels of students who had done research or studied various topics in different regions of the world. These included sustainability, migration, conflict zones, food systems, housing, power systems, and many others. For example, one panel focused on the role of religion in development work and how religion is a framing device for many ways of development and activism. Fellows had ample opportunity to ask questions, learn from panelists, and network with other students and faculty from different disciplines and institutions. Fellows returned from the conference with new perspectives, stimulated to continue their own research and work in Bloomington-Normal and beyond.
The Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development relies on donor contributions to keep educational opportunities for Fellows accessible and abundant. The center’s students, faculty, and staff are deeply grateful to donors for their support. Want to create more of these opportunities for the next generation of development professionals?
Erik Carlson is a Peace Corps Fellow in sociology. Shaylin Quaid is the Stevenson Center’s public relations intern.