WORKSHOP – Development Ethics: Questions, Challenges and Responsibilities

LongshengJuly 22 – August 16, 2013
Michigan State University
Application Deadline: March 15th
Co-Directors: Fred Gifford (MSU) & Eric Palmer (Allegheny College)

Development Ethics is a four-week National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, to be held Monday, July 22 to Friday, August 16, 2013 on the campus of Michigan State University. Its goal is to provide the opportunity to review a rapidly emerging and exciting area of ethics and social and political philosophy that has grown to maturity over the past thirty years, and contribute to an extended conversation on its future. Twenty-five NEH Summer Scholars will participate in the Institute for four weeks and will pursue individual work connected to the Institute’s subject matter.

The Topic:

Our world is characterized by great inequality on global and local scales, and this with regard to material resources, health, education and life opportunities. Many find themselves in poverty and deprivation, with women, children and indigenous peoples especially vulnerable and afforded the narrowest opportunities. Some countries are labeled as “developing” by political regimes and international organizations, and the many are promised “development”, but the promises are often not realized, with some left much the worse by their interactions with development. There has been much controversy over the years concerning the effective and appropriate means for moving toward or achieving development. At the same time, there are serious doubts as to whether the “developed” countries constitute appropriate models for others to emulate, or whether they are instead to be viewed as overdeveloped or misdeveloped countries: those out of balance with respect to environmental sustainability. Further, the idea of development is tarnished when the “developed countries” call the shots in global trade and economic decisions while providing others half a loaf, thus reinforcing their political advantages, agendas, and foundations of power.

Many of the injustices are obvious, but effecting change requires both hard work and careful thought. Moving forward intelligently and fairly requires a philosophical theory of development and careful ethical analysis complemented by political, economic and sociological analysis, all three of which also have their philosophical aspect. This interdisciplinarity and engagement in urgent real problems of global social justice has led to the field’s further evolution, and provides both important challenges and opportunities for scholarship and for teaching. They also play out in our Institute’s reading list, our presenters, and in the character of the conversation that we will pursue during the Summer Institute.


Scholars receive a $3,300 stipend to defray expenses. Applications are encouraged from university and college faculty, part-time faculty, independent scholars, and others (see webpage for details). Applications are also encouraged from graduate students, three of whom are expected to be among the group. Our reading and conversation will contextualize the contributions of twelve presenters who will be resident at the Institute for as much as a week each: eight leading scholars from across the country and globe and four expert faculty from MSU.

Visiting Scholars:

  • David Crocker
  • Nigel Dower
  • Jay Drydyk
  • Des Gasper
  • Sandra Harding
  • Bronwyn Leebaw
  • Thomas Pogge
  • Frances Stewart
  • Resident Guest Lecturers, Michigan State University: Stephen Esquith, Richard Peterson, Paul Thompson, Kyle Whyte

More information and information about applying
can be found at