Three-Day Sociology Conference at U.Va. To Focus on International Development

With the United States and Europe still trying to dig out from the Great Recession, foreign aid to developing countries is facing substantial cuts, raising existential questions for those in the development community. Will women’s gains in the developing world over recent decades be reversed? Will social entrepreneurship’s growing role in development be spurred or retarded by falling foreign aid?

Those are just a couple of the topics that will be addressed Thursday through Saturday at a “Development in Crisis” sociology conference at the University of Virginia, said conference co-organizer Rae Blumberg, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The annual conference of the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Development Section, hosted at rotating institutions, is sponsored by U.Va.’s Center for International Studies. The conference’s opening discussion, two plenary discussions and 23 other discussion panels – all free and open to the public – will feature more than 100 speakers, hailing from universities around the U.S. and abroad, along with 23 U.Va. faculty representing six U.Va. schools: the College of Arts & Sciences; the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; the Darden School of Business; the McIntire School of Commerce; the School of Medicine; and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Jeff Legro, U.Va.’s vice provost for global strategies, will lead the opening ceremony, followed by an opening panel discussion of “The Crisis in Development: What Can Be Done?” with three speakers, including Robert Fatton, Julia Allen Cooper Professor of Politics, discussing international development challenges in Haiti.

At a Friday 5 p.m. plenary session on “Conflict, Gender and Development,” Majida Bargach, interim director of the Center for International Studies, will introduce a talk by Blumberg on “Gender, Development and War in Afghanistan and Northern Uganda.”

The three speakers at Saturday’s 10:35 a.m. plenary session will include politics professor Herman Schwartz presenting, “Does a Post-Scarcity World Imply an End to Development?”

A panel discussion on “Public Health and Sustainable Global Development” will feature four U.Va. School of Medicine professors discussing their work on malnutrition in Bangladesh; AIDS care in Africa; infant nutrition in Haiti; and the international campaign to ban land mines.

At a panel discussion on “Water Development Engineering and Community Engagement,” engineering professors Dana Elzey and James Smith and doctoral student Siddhartha Pailla will discuss U.Va. water projects in Guatemala, South Africa and India.

Many panels will feature graduate students alongside professors, including U.Va. graduate students in sociology, anthropology and systems engineering.

Two of the panel discussions will feature U.Va. students – both graduate and undergraduate – presenting their research projects (many of them sponsored by the Jefferson Public Citizens program), including research on the social and cultural impacts of economic empowerment for women in India, clean-burning cook stoves in rural South Africa, community health centers in St. Kitts and Nevis and Engineering Students Without Borders work in Nicaragua.

The conference’s keynote events – the opening ceremony and opening panel at 5 p.m. Thursday – and the plenary sessions at 5 p.m. Friday and 10:35 a.m. Saturday will all take place in Garrett Hall’s Great Hall. The other panel discussions will take place in various locations around Central Grounds.

The full conference schedule and details are available here.

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H. Brevy Cannon

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications