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Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
The Observer

Group reflects on human dignity

Panelists Kevin Donovan and Melissa Paulsen discuss effects of human dignity on developing countries.
Wei Lin
In a discussion hosted by the Kellogg Institute of International Studies, panelists discuss human dignity in developing countries.

Wednesday evening, the Kellogg Institute of International Studies hosted “Understanding Human Dignity,” the inaugural event in a semester-long discussion on human dignity and human development, utilizing lessons learned at Kellogg's "2014 Human Dignity and Human Development Conference" on Oct. 22-24 in Rome, Italy.

“We invited 14 terrific faculty members and divided them into four interdisciplinary groups: global health, business and economics, conflict and policy and community development,” senior Sean Long, a host of the event, said. “Attracting students from each of Notre Dame’s five colleges, we hope one hour becomes one semester of sustained dialogue on what human dignity means in our career and in our lives.”

Director of the Kellogg Institute, Steve Reifenberg, introduced the event and invited attendees to choose one of the four panels to attend and participate in an hour-long discussion, followed by a post-panel reception.

“While each panel zeroes in on a specific discipline, the post-panel reception offers an opportunity for students and faculty to share how elements of, say, conflict and policy, intersect with and differ from business and economics,” Long said.

“As part of the conflict and policy panel, I shared with students my field work experience while working with victims of crime in Mexico and how the lack of respect by Mexican authorities towards victims' human dignity completely changed the nature and logic of my research and personal motivation to conduct my research on criminal violence,” panelist Sandra Ley Gutiérrez, a visiting fellow at the Kellogg Institute, said.

The panelists came from diverse backgrounds and discussed a wide array of topics throughout the evening.

“I hope that my personal and professional experience can help students, who may be going to the field and work on related topics, to get some sense of how to deal with some issues that come associated with the study of violence in developing countries,” Ley Gutiérrez said.

Senior and event host, Emily Mediate, hopes the human dignity panels will bring about discussion in the Notre Dame community.

“We hear 'human dignity' tossed around, but we hope that in holding an event centered around the idea, we can start to uncover what these means to people and how to apply it to what we are learning and what we are doing on this campus,” Mediate said. “We have always been proud of how Notre Dame is instilled with a sense of purpose, a certain interest in upholding the human dignity of others through our lives and our classes.”

After attending the “Human Dignity and Human Development” conference in Rome in October, Long, Mediate and senior Amanda Pena, another event host, felt compelled to create this sort of dialogue on campus.

“At the end of the day, we are hoping those participating in the event will walk away with a sense of purpose and can find meaning in their studies and work,” Pena said. “By illuminating the dignity of the person as it is understood across various academic disciplines, this event seeks to enrich the ways in which students and faculty build sustainable relationships and contribute to human development in all its forms.”