Successes in Development

The International Development Conference (IDC) is the longest graduate student-run conference at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. We are very excited to be celebrating our 22nd anniversary this year.

For over 20 years, the IDC has provided a world-class interdisciplinary forum on new trends, ideas and practices in international development. The conference creates a thriving platform for students, practitioners, and academics to engage with one another and share innovative ideas year-round. Together we explore emerging approaches and solutions to the most pressing challenges facing developing countries today, including extreme hunger and poverty, the role of governance, local capacity building, vulnerable status of women and girls, and poor quality healthcare and education.

The International Development Conference at Harvard University has steadily grown into one of the year’s landmark events. Each year we attract over 500 participants, inspiring new connections and encouraging rich cross-pollination among key stakeholders in international development. In recent years, we have had the privilege of hosting Ban Ki-Moon, Felipe Calderón, Martin Wolf, and Abhijit Banerjee.

This year’s conference, titled “Successes in Development” will explore and evaluate development successes. Researchers and practitioners often study the failures of development efforts, but there is also a great deal to learn from the successes. The field of international development is rapidly changing: from the rise of new development banks and new institutional and private sector actors to the growth of big data. In this transformative period, we believe it is important to reflect on some of the successes of international development to understand what strategies, issues, and approaches will continue to be relevant even as the field undergoes transformation. Also, more than ever, it is important to evaluate what development success really means: some countries have nearly eliminated extreme poverty, but urbanization and migration are shifting widely accepted notions of poverty and underdevelopment in many parts of the world.

The conference will have three main tracks: how to measure success, private sector growth and job creation successes, and public sector successes.

We continue to be inspired by President John F. Kennedy, who passionately articulated in the inaugural speech from which the School derives its motto:

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”