Over three hundred and twenty academics, practitioners and policymakers attended the fourth annual conference of The Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA) held in September in New York City. Hosted by the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School, and sponsored by Frederick Pardee, the HDCA conference had as its theme Ideas Changing History—the spread of ideas and their social impact.
One highlight of the Conference was the of the first annual Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Lecture given by Dr. Amartya Sen. Introduced by Khadija Haq, Dr. Sen spoke of his close ties with Mahbub ul Haq, outlined his theory of justice and challenged participants to continue to work for justice through solid academic research. In his follow-on comments Mr. George Soros spoke from his experience on the need for effective practical application of human development.
This was the largest conference held by HDCA in its four year history. Conference Director Sakiko Fukuda Parr introduced the Conference with an acknowledgement of the strides that HDCA has made in its short history. One hundred and seventy papers were presented covering a whole range of issues related to human development and the capability approach. Panels ranged from philosophical foundations to policy implications to measurements and applications.
A number of speakers addressed the full gathering. The President of HDCA, Martha Nussbaum analyzed the clash between democratic values and the Hindu Right. Hilary Putnam explored the relationship between ethics and economics. Kwame Anthony Appiah urged the need for “bending towards justice.”
Sir Richard Jolly reminded the participants of the impact of the UNDP on human development and on development practice. He urged the Association to ensure that UN institutions remained engaged in advancing human development. In a panel conversation, Frances Stewart, Diane Elson and Kaushik Basu explored where the human development and capability approach has influenced development policy and where it has not.
HDCA President-elect Frances Stewart closed the Conference by challenging HDCA to focus more on policy advocacy and on the relationship between human development and the environment, and human development and macroeconomics. The next Annual Conference of HDCA will be held in New Delhi, India, 10-13 September, 2008.
Left to right are: Amartya Sen, Harvard University; Khadija Haq, Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre; George Soros, Open Society Institute; Bob Kerrey, President of The New School; and Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Conference Director.
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