Duke To Host Inaugural Conference on International Development

Duke University will host its first multidisciplinary conference on international development on Nov. 15 and 16 in Perkins Library and Penn Pavilion. The conference, “The New Building Blocks of Development,” will feature Duke faculty from across the university as well as colleagues from other universities and experts from international organizations and nonprofits.

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. 

Cornell University professor Kaushik Basu, former chief economic adviser to the government of India and former chief economist at the World Bank, will be the keynote speaker on Friday, Nov. 16. Basu’s recent book, “The Republic of Beliefs,” analyzes the flaws of traditional economic analysis of the law, and proposes ideas that will enable more effective laws and a fairer society. 

The conference will be co-sponsored by the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) at the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Duke Center for International and Global Studies, and the Duke Office of Global Affairs through its “Duke at Home in the World” event series sponsored by the von der Heyden Fellows Fund, established by Karl (’62) and Mary Ellen von der Heyden. 

“We are excited about Duke’s first conference on international development as part of the ‘Duke at Home in the World Series’,” DCID Director Indermit Gill said. “There is so much good work happening across campus on a range of subjects in international development -- from health financing to public debt to energy access. I think it’s important to bring them together, to showcase exceptional work being done by Duke faculty and students, connect Duke researchers to experts in policy making and implementation, and spark new ideas for research and partnerships.” 

The first day will begin with framing remarks from Homi Kharas, the Brookings Institution’s vice president for the Global Economy and Development Program, and Paul Weisenfeld, RTI international executive vice president for International Development. That will be followed by panel discussions on migration and the future of multilaterism.

The second day will kick off with a welcome from Duke President Vincent Price, followed by the keynote address from Basu.

Each co-sponsoring Duke unit will contribute to the conference by leading panel discussions. Some highlights include:

  • A discussion on debt and development in Sub-Saharan Africa moderated by Economics Department Chair Craig Burnside and featuring panelists from the World Bank and USAID
  • An examination of India with Duke Professor Anirudh Krishna and panelists from Cornell, Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, the World Bank and RTI International
  • A panel on labor migration moderated by Duke Professor Seth Sanders, with speakers from the Brookings Institution and the World Bank
  • A multidisciplinary panel on achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals for global health, chaired by Duke Global Health Institute Director Chris Plowe, with speakers from Brookings, RTI and Duke

Giovanni Zanalda, director of the Duke Center for International and Global Studies, said he hopes the conference will be an opportunity not only for faculty to share ideas and collaborate, but also for Duke students to showcase their work and network with experts. 

“I am looking forward to the lunchtime poster session that we’re planning,” Zanalda said. “It’s going to be a great platform for our talented students, both graduate and undergraduate, to share their hard work on some of the world’s most pressing international development topics.” 

Conference co-sponsors include RTI International, Duke’s Sanford School for Public Policy, Duke DevLab, Duke’s Department of Political Science, the Duke Department of Economics, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke Global Health Institute, the Duke Africa Initiative, the Duke India Initiative, Duke University Population Research Institute, Duke Energy Initiative, the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), and Duke Policy Bridge.

The full conference agenda, speaker information and registration link is available at sites.duke.edu/devcon2018.