A Commitment to Development

Given the recent changes at the Center for International Development (CID), I want to emphasize the depth of the Kennedy School and the University’s commitment to development. As scholars and policymakers who have spent much of our lives studying ways to eradicate poverty and foster economic development, University President Lawrence H. Summers and I believe that the Kennedy School and the University can and must do even more to advance these issues.

Nearly three billion of the world’s citizens live in extreme poverty, scraping by on less than two dollars a day. Issues in poverty and development confront every country. (The number of impoverished women in the U.S. alone increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2004, reaching more than 14 million.) Great efforts are also needed to reach the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which serve as a benchmark intended to significantly improve the lives of the world’s poorest people by 2015. There are few issues more worthy of a sustained commitment from Harvard to try to make a difference through our teaching, research and engagement in the world. Development is central to the mission of the Kennedy School and CID plays an important role.

The Kennedy School prides itself on being the most international school at Harvard, with 43 percent of our students being drawn from 80 different countries. Hundreds of students study international development here and many have gone on to senior positions throughout the developing world. Our Mason Fellows program allows us to bring emerging leaders from developing nations to study at the Kennedy School. And our unique Master in Public Administration/International Development Program equips young leaders with the skills to tackle the most complex development issues.

The Kennedy School trains hundreds of managers and leaders from developing nations each year in Executive Education programs such as our Leaders in Development program and specialized programs dealing with trade, microfinance, corruption, and other issues affecting development. We have also conducted programs for individual countries, such as Mexico, India, Pakistan, China, South Africa, and several others and for international NGOs such as CARE.

The Kennedy School directs a program teaching basic market economics and related subjects to Vietnamese civil servants. We have assisted with financial reform efforts in Ethiopia and Indonesia. And we have helped many countries, such as Mexico, China, Bolivia, South Africa, and Singapore, establish their own public policy schools as they strive to become more self-sufficient in their own development and governance.

Equally important, the University has a remarkable concentration of development scholars doing transformational work. The Center for International Development is home to a large and diverse group of these faculty and the research undertaken by the scholars affiliated with CID covers a wide spectrum. Globalization, women’s issues, health and education, micro-credit, international trade, and the impact of civil war and conflict are all being examined from a development perspective. And CID has provided support to literally hundreds of undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students, offering training, funding for research and internships, and a multidisciplinary community in which to learn.

President Summers and the University have provided considerable financial and intellectual support to this effort. And the President is providing active and energetic assistance to me as I work to provide CID with an endowment that will safeguard its vital and vibrant work long into the future. We must all redouble our efforts to tackle global poverty. I am proud that the Kennedy School and Harvard University will help to lead the way.

David T. Ellwood is Dean and the Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.