2016 HDCA Conference – Tokyo, Japan

HDCA 2016 Conference

“Capability and Diversity in a Global Society”

 September 1–3, 2016

Tokyo, Japan

Hosted by


The 2016 HDCA Program Committee cordially invites scholars, government policy makers, practitioners and other interested parties from all over the world to participate in the 2016 HDCA conference.  Original empirical research, theoretical issues, case-studies or reports of experiences, or findings from major research projects, and book panels relevant to conference theme or more broadly related to human development/capabilities approach will be presented.

Please use the conference menu on the right to find more information. The conference organizers can be contacted at

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Refund Policy

Conference registration and payment will open up to 5 months in advance of the conference and all registration must be complete by the start  of conference. Registration will close once all available spots have been filled. Once registration is complete, your payment will be processed.  You will receive email with confirmation.  All registrations are final. No refunds will be issued,  unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g. serious illness or death of close relative). There are no refunds for payments of membership dues.


Conference Theme

 “Capability and Diversity in a Global Society”

The capability approach is a widely-used framework for evaluating human well-being, freedom, and development. It has been developed partly because traditional approaches focusing on income or utility don’t adequately capture the diverse, plural, or multidimensional nature of human conditions and development experiences.

By selecting ‘diversity’ as an overall theme for the HDCA 2016 Conference, we want to exhibit the power and scope of the capability approach to describe, assess, and promote human development and social justice in an increasingly globalized world where people’s circumstances and values are vastly different and rapidly changing.

As a concept originally developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, capability is defined to reflect diversity and freedom of human experiences, and so in the set of valuable functionings that people have reason to choose. We have seen many examples of research, using various methods, to try to capture diverse aspects of human capability and development for specific purposes in different contexts. One of the main goals of the HDCA 2016 Conference will be to assemble and compare a variety of those attempts in different fields, disciplines, and regions, in order to shed light on the benefits of, and challenges for, such attempts.

Human diversity not only highlights the scope and versatility of the capability approach but poses many theoretical, conceptual, philosophical, and methodological challenges. For example, how can diversity meet the demands of impartiality required for our ideas of justice? Can we formulate a broad and inclusive framework to encompass diverse capability indexes? How can different methods better represent diverse characteristics and policy objectives of different societies?

The capability approach itself is still evolving and open to extensions, modifications, criticisms, and revisions. We would like to invite scholars, policy-makers, practitioners, and students who are working on the frontiers of this expanding field of research. Anyone new to HDCA is also more than welcome, as we appreciate diversity of participants in terms of research topics and methods, professions, and regions. It will be an exciting opportunity for all of us.

Call for Papers & Deadlines

April 22, 2016 (changed deadline) – Announcement of acceptance/rejection

June 30, 2016 – Extended deadline for conference registration at early-bird rates

July 31, 2016 (extended deadline) – Submission of full papers/posters

August 15, 2016 – Final deadline for conference registration at standard rates.

Keynote Speakers

Plenary I: Presidential Address

Thursday, September 1st, 10:00am-11:00am (Kanematsu Auditorium)
Ravi Kanbur (Cornell University, President – HDCA)
Title: Citizenship, Migration and Opportunity
Chair: Reiko Gotoh
Welcoming Remarks: Koichi Tadenuma (President, Hitotsubashi University)
Download a pdf of the presentation here

Or watch on video

Ravi Kanbur is T. H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, International Professor of Applied Economics and Management, and Professor of Economics at Cornell University. He has served on the senior staff of the World Bank, including as Resident Representative in Ghana, Chief Economist of the Africa Region, and Principal Adviser to the Chief Economist of the World Bank. He has also served as Director of the World Bank’s World Development Report. He is Past-President of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, Chair of the Board of UNU-WIDER, Co-Chair of the Scientific Council of the International Panel on Social Progress, a member of the High Level Advisory Council of the Climate Justice Dialogue, a member of the OECD High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance, and a member of the Core Group of the Commission on Global Poverty. The honors he has received include an Honorary Professorship at the University of Warwick

Plenary II: Mahbub Ul Haq Lecture
Thursday, September 1st, 11:00am-12:00pm (Kanematsu Auditorium)
Rima Khalaf (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia)
Title: Autocracy, Conflict and De-Development in the Arab World: Changing Mindsets, Altering Paths
Chair: Selim Jahan (Director: UNDP)

Watch on video

Rima Khalaf is Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. During her tenure as Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), from 2000 to 2006, she launched pioneering projects to promote good governance, human rights and human development in Arab States, receiving international honors, including the Prince Claus Award and the King Hussein Leadership Prize. Prior to joining UNDP, she held many senior policymaking positions in Jordan, including Minister for Industry and Trade (1993-1995), Minister for Planning (1995-1998) and Deputy Prime Minister (1999-2000). As head of the ministerial economic team, she led the drive to reform and modernize the economy while simultaneously implementing a social package for building human capabilities, alleviating poverty and strengthening the social safety net.

Plenary III
Thursday, September 1st, 4:30pm-5:40pm (Kanematsu Auditorium)
Martha Nussbaum (University of Chicago)
Title: Aging, Stigma, and Discrimination
Chair: Henry Richardson (Georgetown University)

Martha Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. From 1986 to 1993, she was a research advisor at the World Institute for Development Economics Research, Helsinki, a part of the United Nations University. She has chaired the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on International Cooperation, the Committee on the Status of Women, and the Committee for Public Philosophy. She has received honorary degrees from fifty colleges and universities in the world. Her books include WOMEN AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (2000), HIDING FROM HUMANITY (2004), FRONTIERS OF JUSTICE (2006), CREATING CAPABILITIES (2012), POLITICAL EMOTIONS (2013), and ANGER AND FORGIVENESS (2016). Among her awards are the Prince of Asturias Prize in the Social Sciences in 2012, and the Kyoto Prize in 2016.

Plenary IV: Panel Discussion
Friday, September 2nd, 11:10am-12:10pm (Kanematsu Auditorium)
Kotaro Suzumura (Hitotsubashi University), with Sabina Alkire (University of Oxford), Enrica Chiappero (University of Pavia) and Mozaffar Qizilbash (University of York)
Title: On the Possibility of Welfare Economics and the Capability Approach
Download the presentation here

Kaushik Basu is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank. Prior to this, he served as Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India and is currently on leave from Cornell University where he is Professor of Economics and the C. Marks Professor of International Studies. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and has received India’s Padma Bhushan award, the inaugural Professor A.L. Nagar Fellow award, as well as the National Mahalanobis Memorial award. His academic contributions span development and welfare economics, industrial organization, and game theory.

Kotaro Suzumura is Professor Emeritus of Hitotsubashi University, Professor Emeritus and an Honorary Fellow of Waseda University, a member of the Japan Academy, and a Fellow of the Econometric Society. He has served as President of the Japanese Economic Association and President of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare. He edited Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare (Volumes 1 and 2) with Kenneth Arrow and Amartya Sen. He was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon for his academic contribution by the Government of Japan in 2004 and the Japan Academy Prize for his contribution to the non-consequentialist foundations of normative economics in 2006.

Plenary V
Friday, September 2nd, 4:30pm-6:00pm (Kanematsu Auditorium)
Amartya Sen (Harvard University)
Title: On Specification and Measurement
Chair: Reiko Gotoh

Amartya Sen is Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University and was until 2004 the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Earlier on he was Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University Calcutta, the Delhi School of Economics, and the London School of Economics, and Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University. He has served as President of the Econometric Society, the American Economic Association, the Indian Economic Association, and the International Economic Association. His awards include Bharat Ratna (India); Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur (France); the National Humanities Medal (USA); Ordem do Merito Cientifico (Brazil); Honorary Companion of Honour (UK); Aztec Eagle (Mexico); Edinburgh Medal (UK); the George Marshall Award (USA); the Eisenhauer Medal (USA); and the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Plenary VI: Amartya Sen Lecture
Saturday, September 3rd, 10:00am-11:00am (Kanematsu Auditorium)
Michael Marmot (University College London)
Title: The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World

Watch on video

Sir Michael Marmot is Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and Director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, and President of the World Medical Association for 2015-2016. Professor Marmot holds the Harvard Lown Professorship for 2014-2017 and is the recipient of the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health 2015. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from 16 universities. He has led research groups on health inequalities for 40 years. He is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, and an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for six years and in 2000 he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen, for services to epidemiology and the understanding of health inequalities.



Conference Program

HDCA Tokyo 2016 Schedule (updated August 22- please see printed list of last minute changes, available in the registration room – 206 )

The final version of the Conference Program can be downloaded here as a pdf

August 31 (Wed)
Pre-conference Events (see menu on right for schedule)
09:00-16:00 Registration – Lecture Building 1, Room 206 on the West Campus

September 1 (Thur)
07:30-16:00  Registration – Lecture Building 1, Room 206 on the West Campus
08:20-09:40  Parallel Sessions 1
09:40-10:00 Coffee Break
10:00-11:00  Plenary 1: Ravi Kanbur (Presidential Address)
11:00-12:00  Plenary 2: Rima Khalaf (Mahbub Ul Haq Lecture)
12:00-13:10 Lunch
13:20-14:40  Parallel Sessions 2
14:50-16:10 Parallel Sessions 3
15:00-16:30  Poster Session Presentations
16:10-16:30  Coffee Break
16:30-17:40  Plenary 3: Martha Nussbaum
19:30-21:30  Conference Dinner

September 2 (Fri)
07:30-16:00  Registration
08:00-09:20  Parallel Sessions 4
09:30-10:50  Parallel Sessions 5
10:50-11:10  Coffee Break
11:10-12:10  Plenary 4: Kaushik Basu and Kotaro Suzumura
12:10-13:10  Lunch
13:20-14:40  Parallel Sessions 6
14:50-16:10  Parallel Sessions 7
15:00-16:30  Poster Session Presentations
16:10-16:30  Coffee Break
16:30-18:00  Plenary 5: Amartya Sen

September 3 (Sat)
07:30-13:00  Registration
08:20-09:40  Parallel Sessions 8
09:40-10:00  Coffee Break
10:00-11:00  Plenary 6: Michael Marmot (Amartya Sen Lecture)
11:00-12:00  General Members Meeting
12:10-13:10  Lunch
13:20-14:40  Parallel Sessions 9
14:50-16:10  Parallel Sessions 10
16:30-17:30  Closing Ceremony

Pre-conference Events

Pre-conference events will take place on Wednesday, August 31.  Please see the schedule below. All events are on the West Camputs

9:00 am-5:30 pm
Room 304, Lecture Building 1
Global justice, the capability approach, and social policy
With outset in Gillian Brock’s book Global Justice (OUP 2008), the Foundational Issues thematic group (FICA) will organize a pre-conference event on Brock’s cosmopolitan theory of global justice and related issues. The aim of the event is to consider how abstract discussions on global justice can translate into concrete policy advice, for example within a capability framework. In her book, Brock develops and defends a cosmopolitan account of global justice and shows how it can provide ample room for national self-determination and -governance while securing basic principles of justice. Brock has, both in her book as well as in subsequent work, applied her account of global justice to such policy issues as global poverty, taxation reform, nationalism, health justice, work exploitation, and responsibility. In the event, we will take up and discuss these relationships between global justice and concrete issues of global and national policy. Download the description of the workshop here, or contact Morten Fibieger Byskov ( and Rebecca Gutwald ( for more information.
Please register using this link:

10:00 am -12:00 pm
Room 301, Lecture Building 1
Measuring Capabilities in educational contexts (workshop)
In this workshop we will explore measurement of capabilities using different methodological approaches. In order to do this, we will present a case-study of intercultural education in a higher education environment where potential expansion of capabilities might be happening. We will then split into three groups, with each discussing how capability measurement can be carried out from the following perspectives: a) quantitative,  b) qualitative, and c) participatory, trying to underline strengths and weakness of each. To conclude, we will have a plenary discussion on how the three approaches can be used / complement each other in order to arrive at a detailed picture of capabilities enhancement. (See related event and sign-up information below.)
2:00-4:00 pm
Field trip to Waseda University
We will meet with staff (and students) in the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) in Waseda university to discuss internationalisation and diversity in HE settings in Japan. We will travel there by public transport from Hitotsubashi.

If you are interested in participating in either/ or both of the above events, please contact the workshop organisers, Sandra Boni < > and Veronica Crosbie <> by Friday 26th August at the latest.

1:00-2:00 pm
Room 307, Lecture Building 2
The Measurement of Capabilities
Download the PowerPoint presentation here
In this workshop, Professor Paul Anand will provide an overview of the capabilities measurement project which has sought to develop full and explicit measures of capabilities for use in household, national and other surveys. The workshop will give a brief philosophical and institutional background to the approach before highlighting the theoretical structure developed by Sen (1985) which Anand and colleagues have shown to be fully ‘workable’ – as Rawls questioned the approach. Following Sen’s approach we discuss measures of functioning, states, happiness and most importantly capabilities including non-cognitive traits. The project has covered applications to working age adults, the cost of domestic violence, the situation of Irish travellers, the consequences of disability (mobility impairment) contributing to the ‘Beyond GDP’ work of the OECD and in more recent work has started to highlight the value of social resources and behavioural insights for understanding how entitlements might be achieved.
The workshop will also draw on recent project work for the UNDP, argue that subjective measures are indeed also valuable in understanding human development. We conclude that one of the many values of the approach is that it provides a structure for understanding how wellbeing, quality of life or human flourishing is produced and distributed.
Key Readings
Anand P 2016 Happiness Explained, Oxford, Oxford University Press Anand, P., Hunter, G., Carter, I., Dowding, K., Guala, F. and Van Hees, M., 2009. The development of capability indicators. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 10(1), pp.125-152.
For more information, please contact Paul Anand at Pre-registration is not required.

2:00-4:30 pm
Room 308, Lecture Building 2
UNDP Pre-Conference Workshop: Teaching Human Development in Universities and Beyond
Lead Organiser: Jon Hall, The Human Development Report Office, UNDP
This workshop will be of particular interest to those actively engaged in teaching human development and the capability approach. It will also be of interest to individuals thinking about introducing human development courses in their institutions and organisations.

The Human Development Report Office at UNDP wishes to help support human development thinking and practices around the world. One way to do this is through educational courses including those which can help universities to encourage students to think critically about different approaches to human development. In addition, the learning resources being developed by UNDP aim to support those engaging with government departments, policy-makers and/or NGOs. UNDP has prepared a module entitled, “Introduction to Human Development” and it will soon be freely available online –in several languages – for teachers to use. This session will introduce the new UNDP module and materials with the aim of gaining feedback for future development and dissemination. UNDP is particularly keen to discuss how this resource and others could be made more useful to members of the HDCA and beyond. We will also discuss future priorities in developing additional material and resources and whether and how HDCA members could become more closely involved.

Contact the HDCA Education Officer, Caroline Sarojini Hart to sign up for this event. Free for delegates who have registered for the main HDCA 2016 conference.



Registration, fees & scholarships

Registration is closed.

Students and scholars from low- and mid-income countries will pay a significantly reduced registration fee, as the following schedule indicates:

  • Professional, high-income country, early ($380)
  • Professional, high-income country, standard ($430)
  • Professional, low- or mid-income country, early ($190)
  • Professional, low- or mid-income country, standard ($240)
  • Student, high-income country, early ($190)
  • Student, high-income country, standard ($240)
  • Student, low- or mid-income country, early ($90)
  • Student, low- or mid-income country, standard ($130)

Please note that the registration fee includes a year’s membership in the HDCA. As in previous years, the HDCA aims to make partial financial assistance available to those who need it.


It is recommended that conference participants stay in Tachikawa and the nearby area, which will be convenient for transportation to the conference venue, Hitotsubashi University in Kunitachi, Tokyo.  Palace Hotel Tachikawa (conference dinner site) and other hotels nearby are now available at a special rate for conference participants.  A summary list of hotels is below, and more information is available on the website of our official travel agent, Nissin Travel Service, at: Reservations can be made online or by emailing Nissin Travel at

Hotel Name Room Rates, available starting at:
Palace Hotel Tachikawa (Headquarter Hotel) 12,310yen/person/night (approx. US$113)
Tachikawa Grand Hotel 10,500yen/person/night (approx. US$96)
Tachikawa Washington Hotel 9,936yen/person/night (approx. US$91)
Hotel Nikko Tachikawa Tokyo 12,000yen/person/night (approx. US$110)
Tachikawa Regent Hotel 8,500yen/person/night (approx. US$78)
Kichijoji Tokyu REI Hotel 13,060yen/person/night (approx. US$120)

Blocks of hotel rooms have been reserved at special rates, but numbers are limited so it is recommended to book early!

For those looking for less expensive accommodations, some additional options can be found here.  Please note that these options are provided for the convenience of attendees and are not endorsed by the conference organizers.



Venue, attractions and optional excursion

Hitotsubashi University is located in the western suburb of Tokyo, in a city called Kunitachi.  The city has a history of hosting the university for nearly 90 years, with an estimated population of around 75,000, surrounded by rich nature.

Download a map of the campus, and transportation from the major airports.


Plenary sessions will be held in Kanematsu Auditorium.  (No. 9 on the map)


LectureBuilding1       LectureBuilding2


Parallel sessions will be held at the Lecture Building 1 and 2.  (No. 11, 12 on the map)

Directions to Hitotsubashi University from the Tachikawa station area (near the Palace Hotel) can be downloaded here

Local Attractions

Below are the links to tourist information about Tokyo.

Where is Kunitachi?,_Tokyo

Japan National Tourist Organization

Visit Japan Website:

Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau

Optional Excursion -Saturday 3 September
Yakatabune Dinner Cruise on the Sumida River
JPY13,000 per person

Yakatabune is a traditional house-shaped cruise ship that has been continuously used since the 17th century. Passengers enjoy a dinner of tempura and sashimi while enjoying breathtaking views of Tokyo landmarks. Limit of 160 passengers.



Click here to download transportation information from the airports


From TOKYO (東京) or SHINJUKU (新宿) station

Take JR Chuo Line (中央線) bound for Takao(高尾)direction, to KUNITACHI (国立) station. Please note: if you get on a special rapid service train, “TOKUBETSU KAISOKU (特別快速)”, make sure to change at KOKUBUNJI (国分寺) station to a rapid service train “KAISOKU” (快速) , as the Tokubetsu Kaisoku DOES NOT STOP at Kunitachi station.

Commuting time: Approximately 1 hour from Tokyo, 40 minutes from Shinjuku.



<Limousine Bus>

Take Limousine Bus service to TACHIKAWA RAILWAY STATION NORTH EXIT (立川駅北口) or to PALACE HOTEL TACHIKAWA (パレスホテル立川), departing every one hour. [Bus stop #4 at the International Terminal]

From Tachikawa station, take JR Chuo Line bound for Tokyo to Kunitachi station (one stop). Or you may take a taxi to the campus (approx.1,400 yen).

Commuting time in total: Approximately 2 hours.


<TOKYO MONORAIL (東京モノレール) >

Take Tokyo Monorail to HAMAMATSUCHO (浜松町) station, change to JR Yamanote (山手線) Line in direction to Tokyo. From Tokyo station, take JR Chuo Line to Kunitachi station. Commuting time: Approximately 1.5 hours.



Take Keikyu Airport Line (京急空港線)to SHINAGAWA (品川)station, change to JR Yamanote Line bound for Shibuya(渋谷)/Shinjuku(新宿)direction. Get off at Shinjuku station, change to JR Chuo Line to Kunitachi station.

Commuting time: Approximately 1 hour.



<Limousine Bus>

Take Limousine Bus service to PALACE HOTEL TACHIKAWA (パレスホテル立川), departing 3 services in the morning, 6 services in the afternoon. [Bus stop #11 or 2 at the Terminal 1; # 6 or 16 at the Terminal 2; # 4 at the Terminal 3] From Tachikawa station, take JR Chuo Line bound for Tokyo to Kunitachi station, or use taxi service to the campus.

Commuting time: Approximately 3 hours


<KEISEI BUS (京成バス)>

Take Keisei Bus service to TOKYO STATION YAESU GATE (東京駅八重洲口), departing 3 services per hour. From Tokyo station, take JR Chuo Line to Kunitachi station.

Commuting time: Approximately 2.5 hours (1.5 hours for the bus, 1 hour for the train.)


<NARITA EXPRESS (成田エクスプレス) train>

Take Narita Express train to Tokyo station or to Shinjuku station, change to JR Chuo Line to Kunitachi station.

Commuting time: Approximately 2 hours.


Hitotsubashi University

About 10 minutes’ on foot from the SOUTH exit of JR Kunitachi station. Walk straight down the main avenue, on your right sidewalk. The conference will be held on the west side of our campus (on your right from the Kunitachi station.)

Hitotsubashi University:

Directions to Hitotsubashi University from the Tachikawa station area (near the Palace Hotel) can be downloaded here and are also below

Directions to the campus from Kunitachi Station:

Campus map:

Directions to Hitotsubashi University from the Palace Hotel

[By Taxi]
If you are taking a taxi from Tachikawa station to Hitotsubashi University, please show the map below to the driver. It will cost around 1,000-2,000 JPY.

[By Train]
Take Chuo-Line train in the direction to Tokyo from Tachikawa JR (Japan Railway) station and get off at the next station, Kunitachi. It is about 3 min. train ride. Please note that ONLY “Rapid” (Kaisoku in Japanese) train will stop at Kunitachi, so do not take any other special rapid trains.

To use the train, go to the central concourse of Tachikawa station and buy a ticket using the machines (you will need Japanese yen or a credit card with the chip and PIN). Alternatively, you could go to the ticket office and purchase a prepaid plastic card called SUICA. For further details of this SUICA card, please refer to:

The round-trip fare from Tachikawa to Kunitachi is 280JPY. You shall insert your train ticket through the gate machines (or tap your SUICA card over the machine) when entering your departure station and when leaving your arrival station.

Hitotsubashi University is about 10 min. walk straight down the main avenue, on your right sidewalk from the south exit of the Kunitachi station. The conference will be held on the west side of our campus (on your right from the Kunitachi station).

Campus Address
2-1 Naka, Kunitachi, Tokyo 186-8601, Japan 




HDCA Summer School

Summer School on Capability Approach – Tokyo
29-30 August 2016

***Registration is closed and we are no longer taking names for the waiting list***

Prior to the main conference, the HDCA will be holding a two-day HDCA Summer School primarily aimed at PhD graduate students working with the capability approach.  It will take place at Hitotsubashi University, in Tokyo, on Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 August 2016.  The aim of the summer school is to introduce students to foundational concepts within the capability approach as well some core themes where current theoretical and empirical work is taking place.  Participants will also have an opportunity to get group feedback on their research projects. Spaces are limited to 20 students.

Summer School Committee

Sridhar Venkatapuram, HDCA Officer at Large
Caroline Hart, HDCA Education Officer
Graciela Tonon, HDCA Information Officer

2015 HDCA Conference – Washington, D.C.

Compass Rose_4

The 2015 HDCA  conference will be hosted by Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. on the theme:

“Capabilities on the Move: Mobility and Aspirations”

September 10-13, 2015

The 2015 HDCA Program Committee cordially invites scholars, government policy makers, practitioners and other interested parties from all over the world to participate in the 2015 HDCA conference.  Original empirical research, theoretical issues, case-studies or reports of experiences, or findings from major research projects, and book panels relevant to conference theme or more broadly related to human development/capabilities approach will be presented.

Please use the conference menu on the right to find more information. The conference organizers can be contacted at

Decisions on submissions have been communicated by email.  Submitters may check the status of their submissions (and, if applicable, obtain copies of invitation letters) by logging back into ConfTool at


Conference Theme

“Capabilities on the Move: Mobility and Aspirations”

Human development has in large part been a story of mobility.  Geographically, people move to seek a better job or a better life, and when they succeed, they move up the socioeconomic ladder, whether as assessed by income or by capabilities.  People’s aspirations fuel these efforts; yet aspirations can be quashed by poverty, inequality, or social exclusion.  Mobility can also pose challenges to human development, ranging from overcrowded cities to widening inequality, as some get left behind.  Examining how mobility and aspirations interact provides an important window on the dynamics of human development.

Upward mobility is a dynamic counterpart of equality, offering the possibility that those born in poverty might escape it.  Support for basic capabilities, especially in the areas of health and education, is essential to enabling such upward mobility.  How do the aspirations of the poor and vulnerable figure into this process?  How can their success in meeting them begin to match that of the rich and powerful?  Long-entrenched cultural barriers often inhibit social and economic mobility and put in place a kind of social distance. This can make it hard for highly trained professionals, such as doctors, to work effectively with the poor and less educated.  How can these barriers be overcome?  And how can those who are relatively deprived and excluded be adequately protected against downward mobility resulting from inadequate social policies, war, ill health, educational deprivation, or even climate change?

Such evils and misfortunes spur much of the world’s geographic mobility.  Among those forced to flee epidemics, economic crises, natural disasters, and human conflicts, the poor and vulnerable are disproportionately represented.  How can the ideals of human development adequately reach the world’s millions of refugees?   And as another billion of the world’s poor migrate voluntarily to cities, or to other countries, aspiring to improve their lot, how can their human development be adequately addressed?  All around the world, migration to cities is putting huge strains on the infrastructure that is meant to provide sanitation, transportation, health, education, and personal safety, thus threatening basic capabilities even while holding out hope for them.

People’s aspirations, which can drive them to move, can be a powerful engine of development.  Whether individuals’, families’, or communities’ pursuit of their aspirations translates into improvements in their capabilities and functionings, however, is a further question.  Understanding people’s aspirations, and their capabilities to aspire, is crucial to understanding poverty and human development.  Do we know how to encourage aspirations without setting people up for frustration?  Where people’s aspirations are stunted by lack of opportunities, development will languish; but where people’s aspirations are frustrated by barriers to education or employment or needed health care, apathy and resentment may set in.

Importantly, people aspire to agency as well as to well-being.  They seek an end to local oppressions.  They seek democracy and liberty for their own nations, and a real voice for those nations in international forums.  How can these agential aspirations—these political aspirations—be harnessed to promoting human development?  At a more theoretical level, aspirations deserve study also because they represent a deeper layer of human psychology than is ordinarily captured by preference-based models.

The theme of mobility and aspirations, then, will provide an enriching way to focus on capability enhancement over time, one that will deepen the social, political, and psychological richness of the capability approach.


Call for Papers & deadlines

Download the Call for Papers
Proposals should be submitted online at:

Important Deadlines
– Submission of proposals: Closed on March 15th 2015
Those concerned with obtaining visas to travel to the U.S. should please submit as soon as possible, however, as earlier submission will enable an earlier decision.

– Announcement of acceptance/rejection: April 15th 2015
– Deadline for conference registration at early-bird rates: Extended to July 19th 2015
– Submission full papers/posters needed for inclusion on the conf. CD: July 31st 2015
Full papers should be submitted on ConfTools:
– Final deadline for conference registration (with regular rates): August 11th 2015

The HDCA conference aims to bring together people from all over the world from different disciplines and fields interested in the field of human development and the capabilities approach.  Papers on the 2015 conference theme ‘aspirations and mobility’ may explore, amongst others, the following topics:

  • measuring social and economic mobility in a capability-based way
  • the effect of deprivation and vulnerability on aspirations
  • policies for securing capabilities (regarding health, education, etc.) as large numbers of people migrate to new cities
  • the capabilities of emigrating and immigrating and the corresponding rights
  • understanding the co-development of aspirations and capabilities
  • education as shaping aspirations
  • aspirations in childhood and youth and transitions to adulthood
  • frustrated aspirations as a driver of conflict
  • the aspirations of refugees
  • parental aspirations for their children and their effect on socioeconomic mobility
  • aspirations and the life course
  • theoretically modelling aspirations and their effect on behavior
  • the conditions under which socioeconomic mobility enhances equality and those under which it exacerbates inequality
  • identifying and overcoming barriers to mobility
  • securing the relatively deprived against downward mobility
  • aspiring to agency:  grassroots movements and participatory politics
  • linking political aspirations to human development
  • the impact of migration on human development
  • migration and the post-2015 development agenda
  • gender differences in motivations for migration
  • achieving greater coherence between migration policy and development policy
  • the effect of social remittances on capabilities and aspirations

In addition to papers on the conference theme, papers on all core HDCA topics are welcome, including but not limited to:

  • philosophical and ethical foundations of the capability approach;
  • methodological issues in operationalizing the capability approach;
  • capability measurement and empirical analysis;
  • human rights and development; and
  • policy analysis and evaluation by reference to capabilities and agency


Notice: While the papers may come from any discipline and may be theoretical, applied, or policy-based, every paper must engage with, apply, extend, criticize, or offer insights specifically relevant to the capability approach and/or the human development paradigm.  Since we expect a large number of submissions for this meeting in Washington, each person is limited to only one individual paper presentation and participation in only one panel presentation.   (An individual may appear as a co-author on additional papers, but must not be the presenter of more than one paper of each of the two types.)








Plenary Sessions (location: Gaston Hall)

1.     Aspirations Symposium

Thursday 9/10, 5-6:30 pm
Caroline Sarojini Hart, Martha C. Nussbaum, and Debraj Ray
Click here to download Martha Nussbaum’s paper: ‘Aspiration and the Capabilities List’

Human aspirations express people’s deepest hopes, revealing a psychology and a pattern of valuing that is richer and more complex than that of simple desires.  Capturing this depth and subtlety of motivation and evaluation is a challenge for economic theory, for empirical understanding more generally, and for philosophical accounts that attempt to articulate our fundamental commitments to justice and human flourishing.  Each of our distinguished symposiasts takes up this challenge in a distinctive sphere and in a distinctive way.

2.     2015 Amartya K. Sen Lecture

Friday 9/11, 10-11 am
James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics (The University of Chicago)
“Creating Flourishing Lives: The Dynamics of Capability Formation”

This lecture presents recent research on the economics of creating flourishing lives.  The implications of this research for the design of effective policies are discussed.

3.     2015 Mahbub ul Haq Lecture

Friday 9/11, 5:15-6:15 pm
Ernesto Zedillo, Former President of Mexico (Yale University)
“Tales from Latin America and Africa: Growing Policy Challenges at a Time of Vanishing Tailwinds”

This lecture will observe that the recent period of significant improvements in key social indicators in regions such as Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa have been driven, not exclusively but certainly significantly, both by better terms of trade and by the adoption of unprecedentedly effective social policies –like the conditional cash transfers programs. It will argue that such improvements, in the absence of more ambitious structural reforms, could stall or even reverse now that the commodity super-cycle is over, and that the impact of the innovative social programs either have entered their diminishing returns phase, in some cases, or, in others, are at risk of being interrupted or at least dwindling for fiscal reasons.

4.     A Dialogue on Justice and Aspiration
Professors Nussbaum and Sen have agreed to an extraordinary plenary session in which they discuss one of the main issues on which their interpretations of the capability approach appear to diverge.

5.     Migration Panel

Saturday 9/12, 10-11:30 am
“International Migration and Human Development”

International migration and development intersect in many ways. The development process affects whether and how people move across international borders; migration in turn affects the development of both source and destination countries. In this session, four prominent experts in migration and development will discuss the interconnections between migration and development, its relevance to the post 2015 development agenda, and ways to enhance the human development and capabilities of migrants, their countries of origin and countries of destination.

The panelists include:

  • Hein de Haas, Professor of Sociology, University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
  • Peggy Levitt,  Professor of Sociology, Wellesley College
  • Kathleen Newland, Director, Migrants, Migration, and Development, Migration Policy Institute
  • Dilip Ratha, Director, Lead economist and Manager of the Migration and Remittances Unit, World Bank. Founder and Head of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), World Bank
  • Moderator: Susan F. Martin, Donald G. Herzberg Professor of International Migration, Georgetown University

6.     2015 Martha C. Nussbaum Lecture

Saturday 9/12, 4-5 pm
Seyla Benhabib, Professor of Political Science and Philosophy (Yale University)
“Democratic Iterations and Cosmopolitan Human Rights: A New Paradigm for the Dialectic of Law and Politics”

This lecture examines how we can interpret the relationship between democratic sovereignty and transnational legal order in a new age.  Critiquing the “new sovereigntism” and arguing that transnational human rights norms strengthen rather than weaken democratic sovereignty, this lecture will challenge us to think beyond the binarisms of the cosmopolitan versus the civic republican; democratic versus the international and transnational; democratic sovereignty versus human rights law.

7. World Bank Panel

Sunday 9/13, 10-11:30 am
“The Role of Governments and Markets in Promoting Mobility and Ending Poverty”

In 2013, the World Bank Group (WBG) declared two goals: ending extreme poverty by 2030 and achieving shared prosperity. This session will discuss the roles the government and the market will have to play to achieve these goals. What are the policies that can facilitate upward mobility among the poor? How much should we rely on growth and how much on targeted interventions? Empirical findings suggest that economic growth raises the incomes of the poor, but is that enough? In this session, leaders from the WBG will highlight some of the ongoing research related to the above questions, and will also introduce the audience to the open questions and challenges which the WBG currently confronts.

The panelists include World Bank Group leaders:

The session is being organized by Kaushik Basu and Garance Genicot.

Conference program

Click here to download the ‘At-a-glance’ summary of the conference agenda

Click here to download the full conference program

Pre-conference events

The pre-conference events will take place on Thursday, Sept. 10, prior to the opening of the conference itself at 5:00 p.m. that day. The workshops and talks planned for that day are below.

Children and Youth, Human Development, and Research Methods: operationalising the capability approach

Sept. 10, 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Georgetown University Conference Center, Salon D

Organized by the Children and Youth thematic group, this workshop is an opportunity to meet in person with group members and others to share methods, information, and ideas for improving research. Research methods for research on/with children and young adults will be discussed (both qualitative/participatory and quantitative). The workshop will be divided in two parts: In the first part, participants will work together in small groups and will focus on critical aspects of their research on/with children; in the second part, each small group will present their results to the other participants.

To participate, please send an email explaining your interest, as well as a brief bio, to  Please note that the workshop is limited to 40 participants.

Organizers: Mario Biggeri, Caroline Hart and Caterina Arciprete


Steven Radelet talk: “The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World”

Sept. 10, 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Copley Formal Lounge

We live today at a time of the greatest development progress among the global poor in world history. Never before have so many people, in so many countries, made so much progress, in so short a time in so many dimensions of development. Since the early 1990s more than one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, average incomes in developing countries have nearly doubled, child mortality has fallen sharply, life expectancy has grown, war and violence have declined, millions more girls are in school, and democracy—often fragile and imperfect—has become the norm. In this talk Steven Radelet will discuss what has happened and how this progress can be sustained and expanded to those still left behind.

Professor Radelet holds the Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development at Georgetown and was formerly the Chief Economist at USAID and Senior Advisor on Development to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This talk is a preview of his book on this topic, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.


Global Justice Philosophy in 2015- Taking Stock

Sept. 10, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Georgetown University Conference Center, Salon B

This event takes stock of the current state of global justice theorizing. The program begins with Leif Wenar presenting from his new book Blood Oil which exemplifies engagement with empirical evidence. Other scholars will present work taking new directions in global justice theorizing. For more information, and to register, please go to:

Contact: Sridhar Venkatapuram, King’s College London,


Sustainability and Human Rights: Ethical Dimensions of an Urban Agenda

Sept. 10, 9:00 am -12:30 pm
Georgetown University Conference Center, Salon F

Sponsored by the Ethics and Development, Human Rights, and Sustainability Thematic Groups and the International Development Ethics Association. The event will consist of two panels; the first panel focuses on Human Rights as LGBTQI Rights internationally, as United States immigration issue, and finally within Washington, D.C. The second panel looks at Sustainability issues within Washington, D.C.

8:45 am -9:00 am:  Welcome
9:00 am -10:30 am:  LGBTQI rights; D.C., the Border and Beyond
10:30 am -10:45 am:  Break
10:45 am – 12:15 pm: Washington, D.C. as a “Sustainable City”

An ‘activation day’ event will be held on Weds., Sept. 9 from 10:00 am-1:00 pm. Participants in the activation day will volunteer with Martha’s Table, a local organization that focuses on feeding the more than 93,000 hungry residents, including 31,000 hungry children, of Washington, D.C. To register for either event, please go to:

Click here to download more information on the workshop
Click here to download more information on the Activation Day

Contact: Lori Keleher, New Mexico State University,


Capability Measurement: An Overview

Sept. 10, 10:45 am-12:15 pm
Georgetown University Conference Center, Conference Rm 5-6

The workshop provides an overview of research conducted during a fifteen year period that has sought to develop questionnaires, datasets and analyses that illustrate an explicit and full operationalization of Sen’s (1985) original version of the theory. More specifically we shall look at research developed with teams of philosophers, social scientists and economists to operationalize Sen’s core relations and concepts and we shall see how Nussbaum’s list can be adopted for use within the Senian framework.  This may be of interest both to academics who are looking for explicit measures of capabilities as well as development practitioners in policy and practice who wish to use data on capabilities to identify needs or evaluate interventions. In the session, participants move from reasons why utilitarianism is a limited ethical framework to developing an understanding of how the capability approach now includes alternative tools that are genuinely ‘workable’ – see for example Anand et al (2009). In addition, we note applications ranging from clinical trials in Oxford to work with marginalised people in Ireland that promise to deepen understanding of human development whilst extending the reach of our approach.

Contact: Paul Anand, The Open University,

Rajiv Shah talk:  “How Data & Evidence are Transforming the Fight for Global Health”

Sept. 10, 10:45 am – 12:15 pm
Copley Formal Lounge

Rajiv Shah (USA) served as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from January 2010 to February 2015, advancing its mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies. He pioneered new public-private partnerships, catalyzed scientific innovation and enlisted the private sector and Congressional leaders of both parties to join in this cause. He also led the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to catastrophic crises around the world, including the Haiti earthquake, Typhoon Haiyan and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.  Previously, he served as Under Secretary and Chief Scientist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prior to that, he spent eight years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from its inception, where he led efforts in global health, agriculture, and financial services.


12:15 pm-1:15 pm
Lunch will be provided free of charge to those attending the pre-conference events.


Health and Disability Worshop

Sept. 10, 12:30 pm – 2:15 pm
Georgetown University Conference Center, Salon E

This workshop will bring together scholars and practitioners who have been working on health and disability issues in relation to the human development and capability approach.

This workshop will be a unique opportunity for participants to discuss their works in progress or planned work on health and disability. Each participant will be given the opportunity to present a relevant project and to receive feedback from other participants.

In order to register for the workshop, please email Francis Terpening (


Frances Stewart talk: “Human Development in Practice: Lessons from 40 years’ country experience”
Click here to download the slide presentation

 Sept. 10, 1:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Copley Formal Lounge

Frances Julia Stewart is a world-renowned development economist who directed the Department for International Development at Oxford University and then the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) there; she remains an advisor to the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative.  She was president of the HDCA 2008-2010.  She has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Sussex, the 2013 Leontief prize for advancing the frontiers of economic thought from Tufts University, and the 2009 Mahbub ul Haq award for lifetime achievement in promoting human development from the United Nations Development Programme.


Exploring Education with the Capability Approach

Sept. 10, 1:15 pm – 3:15 pm
Georgetown University Conference Center, Salon D

This workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to meet others interested in the field of education ahead of the main HDCA conference.

In particular this workshop will explore the opportunities and challenges of applying a capability approach to researching and understanding educational matters.  The scope of educational matters may encompass formal and informal teaching and learning opportunities across the life course as well as policy in all its guises. We are interested in sharing experiences of developing research strategies, questions and methods in ways that draw upon, or reflect, a capability paradigm.

You do not need to be an active researcher to attend this workshop.  However, we welcome proposals from individuals or groups who wish to present or discuss their work in this arena.

Contact: Caroline Hart, University of Sheffield,


Indigenous Peoples Living on Tribal Lands: Challenges and Opportunities

Sept. 10, 2:00-4:00 pm
Georgetown University Conference Center, Conference Rm 5-6

This will be a discussion led by members of the Native American Students’ Council of Georgetown University, who will provide an overview of American Indian life on reservations with a particular focus on youth.

In the morning, there will be a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian ( including the featured exhibition: Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations. Please meet at the south entrance of the museum at 9:45 am.

Please contact the organizers if you plan to participate in the discussion and/or museum visit.

Contact: Erika Bockstael,


HDRO Panel: Human Development at a Crossroad – Revisiting the Concept and the Measurement

Sept. 10, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Copley Formal Lounge

Human Development Reports have been published near annually since 1990, addressing development issues and challenges ranging from globalization to cultural diversity, from economic growth to environmental sustainability, from democracy to climate change. The time has come to revisit the simple but powerful basic notion of human development – a process and outcome of enlarging people’s choices. It is also time to reflect on how we continue to measurement of human progress.

There are issues and aspects which till now remain unresolved, unanswered and unvisited. For example, the human development notion focuses on individual choices, but the issue of collective choices was never addressed. How does the society make trade-offs? Similarly, there is a hierarchy among choices and there is a prioritization at individual and societal levels. How does the human development concept deal with these?

Lead speaker: Dr. Selim Jahan, Director of the UNDP Human Development Report Office (HDRO), since September 2014. He earlier contributed to nine HDRs. From 2002-2014 he served as Director of the UNDP Poverty Division.


Dr. Gaël Giraud, S.J., Chief Economist at the Agence Française de Développement

Dr. Jaya Krishnakumar, Professor of Econometrics, Institute of Economics and Econometrics, GSEM, University of Geneva




Registration, fees & scholarships

We have reached our registration limit and registration for the 2015 HDCA conference is now closed.

Scholars and students from low- and mid-income countries will pay a significantly reduced registration fee. As in previous years, the HDCA also aims to make partial financial assistance available to these two groups.  For this meeting, Georgetown University has agreed to double the total amount available for scholarships by offering a matching amount. Information about how to apply for scholarship support will be send to submitters shortly after the submission deadline. For further information about scholarships, see below.

Registration rates
(*Early bird rates available through July 10, 2015. Standard rates in effect as of July 11, 2015)

  • Professional, high-income country, early*  ($375)
  • Professional, high-income country, standard ($425)
  • Professional, low- or mid-income country, early* ($50)
  • Professional, low- or mid-income country, standard ($75)
  • Student, high-income country, early* ($200)
  • Student, high-income country, standard ($225)
  • Student, low- or mid-income country, early* ($30)
  • Student, low- or mid-income country, standard ($50)



Initial decisions on scholarships have been communicated by email.  As announced, partial scholarships have been awarded to support attendance by participants whose paper is considered by the abstract reviewers to be of high quality and who would otherwise not be able to attend. In a second round, those who have been awarded scholarship in the first round are invited to demonstrate a need for further funding.  To do so, they will need to provide supporting document from their institution, as priority will be given to those who have been able to secure additional funding from their own institution and/or outside sources. Priority will also be given to those who have not received a HDCA conference grant before. If you have any queries on the 2015 partial scholarship, please contact the HDCA treasurer Gareth Wall on and include ‘HDCA 2015 partial scholarship query’ in the subject line.


Venue and nearby attractions

Georgetown University’s main campus, where the conference events will take place, is located in a quiet and historic riverfront corner of Washington, DC. Download a map of the campus here.



Plenary sessions will be held in Gaston Hall


Parallel sessions will be held at the university-owned Hotel and Conference Center



Below are links to Washington, D.C. visitor resources guides:

Georgetown Hotel and Conference Center guide:

Guide to the Georgetown neighborhood:

Washingtonian Visitor’s Guide:

Free and Almost Free Things To Do:

Georgetown University ‘Plan Your Visit’ webpage:

Accommodation & transportation

Discounted rates at the following hotels are still available for conference participants. The Georgetown University Conference Center and Hotel is at the conference venue.  The remaining hotels, each within a half-hour walk of the conference venue, are also served by the University’s complimentary shuttle bus system. At each of the following hotels, a limited number of cots is available to serve as a bed for a third guest.  Except at the Holiday Inn Georgetown, which charges a $15 fee, there is no charge for a cot.  Cots should be requested in advance.

Georgetown University Conference Center and Hotel
$168 per night (plus 14.5% tax)
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20057
Reservations by phone and online
For questions only, contact: Danielle Samelson dms269@georgetown.ed

Key Bridge Marriott
$133 per night (plus 13% tax)
1401 Lee Hwy
Arlington, VA 22209
Reservations by phone only
For toll-free numbers worldwide:

Holiday Inn Georgetown
$139 per night (plus 14.5%  tax)
2101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Reservations by phone or online
Phone: +1 202-338-4600 or  1-877-531-2705

Holiday Inn Rosslyn
$94 per night (plus 13% tax)
1900 North Fort Myer Drive
Arlington, VA 22209
Reservations by phone or online


Travel to Georgetown is supported by three major airports and a major train station:

Airport / Train Station Address Distance and Travel Time
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) 2401 S Smith BlvdArlington, VA 22202 About 7 mi,20 mins from GU via car
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) 1 Saarinen CirSterling, VA 20166 About 26 mi,35 mins from GU via car
Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) 7426 New Ridge RdHanover, MD 21076 About 40 mi,1 hr from GU via car
Union Station 50 Massachusetts Avenue NEWashington, DC 20002 About 5 mi,20 mins from GU via car

Full directions from area airports to Georgetown’s Main Campus—via car/taxi and public transportation—are available on the university website:

Travel to Georgetown is also supported by high-speed train.  Acela Express offers hourly service downtown to downtown during peak morning and afternoon rush hours between New York, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other intermediate cities. More information is available on the Amtrak, Acela Express website:

Host Information / Committees

The 2015 HDCA conference is hosted by Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The organizers can be reached at

Program Committee

Chair:  Susan Martin, Georgetown University
Achin Chakraborty, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
Ilana Feldman, George Washington University
James Foster, George Washington University
Garance Genicot,
Georgetown University
Caroline Hart,
University of Sheffield
Zina Nimeh, United Nations University-MERIT/Maastricht University
Henry S. Richardson, Georgetown University

2014 HDCA conference – Athens, Greece

“Human Development in Times of Crisis”, 2-5 Sept. 2014

Please see the menu on the right for information about the conference, or for the latest details, please visit









The 2014 HDCA  conference will be hosted jointly by the University of Ioannina  and the Bielefeld Centre for Education and Capability Research.

The 2014 HDCA Program Committee cordially invites scholars, government policy makers, practitioners and other interested parties from all over the world to participate in the 2014 HDCA conference.  Original empirical research, theoretical issues, case-studies or reports of experiences, or findings from major research projects, and book panels relevant to the 2014 theme, Human Development in Times of Crisis, or more broadly related to human development/capabilities approach will be presented.

2014 conference theme

Human Development in Times of Crisis: Renegotiating social justice

Over the past five years the world has experienced its worst economic crisis in decades. The ‘Great Recession’ has set back developmental progress in many countries. For industrialized countries in the Global North, many hard fought achievements with regard to social protections are being cut back affecting many people’s fundamental life prospects. Therefore, throughout the world, the crisis is not mainly a financial one; it is also a social and human crisis.  The economic crisis has created a crisis of ideas about social justice and democracy.

The present conditions of advanced capitalism demand as well as offer opportunities for re-evaluating and reconceptualising ideas of human development and human security on many different levels. These ideas profoundly influenced by the capabilities approach have been conceptually appealing but only loosely linked to sound social theory, social-scientific analyses of institutions and political diagnoses.

The 2014 HDCA conference will aim to connect demands for programmatic conceptions and social analyses in order to assess the opportunities for more capability-enhancing projects and public policies. The aim is to help counter the developmental setbacks from the current crisis, and to enhance the quality of society and social justice. The conference will especially focus on the social causes of social inequality, social inclusion, and education – especially with respect to the life perspectives of (vulnerable) young people.




Call-for-papers & deadlines

Important deadlines:

  • Submission of proposals: March 22nd 2014
  • Announcement of acceptance/rejection: May 15th 2014
  • Registration with early–bird-fee: July 10th 2014
  • Submission full papers/posters to be included on the conf. CD: July 31st 2014
  • Final deadline for conference registration (with regular rates): August 20th 2014

Special Topics of Interest:
The HDCA conference aims to bring together people from all over the world from different disciplines and fields interested in the field of human development and the capabilities approach. Papers on the 2014 conference may explore amongst others, the following topics:

Topic   Description
Policy analysis
  •  Critical social policy, Social crisis, common good.
  • “Late” capitalism, social problems, participation.
  • Social inequality, poverty, social exclusion.
  • Welfare production, social organisations, social services.
  • Disadvantage, suffering, human security.
  • Social movements, social protest, dynamics of civic society.
  • Children – social beings and social becomings.
  • Programs of enhancing capabilities.
Theoretical developments of the capability approach
  •  Theoretical developments and research methodology.
  • Social justice, equality, social inclusion.
  • Human flourishing, well-being, components of a good life.
  • Gender equality, feminist perspectives.
  • Bildung, education, agency.
  • Environmental and ecological justice, sustainable human development.
European challenges
  • European development, social quality, social cohesion.
  • Migration, transnational mobility, refugees.
  • Unemployment, marginalisation.
  • Social prejudice, discrimination, conflict.
  • Heterogeneity, diversity, disability.
  • Fragmentation of Europe: democracy and austerity.

Keynotes / plenaries

In addition to the Sen and Haq lectures, the conference will include the following keynote lectures:

HSR 20130319 Faculty_0035_Reduced Henry S. Richardson is a Professor at Georgetown University and a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Professor Richardson is also the President-elect of HDCA. He will give the HDCA Presidential address.


ForstRainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt, Speaker of the Cluster of excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” and Vice-Director of the Centre for Advanced Studies “Justitia Amplificata – Rethinking justice: Applied and Global”.



Jean_michel_bonvinJean-Michel Bonvin is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the Haute école de travail social et de la santé – EESP – of Lausanne. He also lectures in Public Administration at the University of Geneva. He is Chairman of the Swiss Association of Social Policy.


Kaushik_BasuKaushik Basu is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank. He is Professor of Economics and C Marks Professor of International Studies, Cornell University. From December 2009 to July 2012 he served as the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) to the Government of India at the Ministry of Finance.



Nussbaum Symposium

The hosts of the 2014 HDCA Conference together with the Department of Philosophy and History of Science of the National Kapodistrian University of Athens will organize a philosophical symposium in honor of Martha Nussbaum’s contribution to the human development debate and the capability approach.

Phillip Pettit is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University. He works in moral and political theory and on background issues in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics. He is Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.


Martha_NussbaumProfessor Martha Nussbaum is one of the world’s foremost philosophers. She is best known for the development of the ‘capabilities approach’, an influential theory of social and global justice. She has written on a wide range of subjects including ethics, feminism, law and literature, and is regarded as a leading authority on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy.






Sen & Haq Lectures

DaronThe 2014 Amartya Sen Lecture will be given by Daron Acemoglu. He is Elisabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His fields of interest among others are political economy and development economics. He is a Fellow of the Bureau of Research and Economic Analysis in Development.


Amartya_SenWe are pleased to announce that Professor Sen will attend the lecture. The 1998 Nobel Prize winner is a leading figure in the field of development economics and has contributed significantly to the research on fundamental problems of welfare economics.


Barbara_StockingThis year the Mahbub-ul-Haq Lecture will be given by Dame Barbara Mary Stocking. She was Chief Executive of OXFAM, UK, (2001-2012). In March 2013 she was elected as the fifth President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.







Conference program

Download the program here

September 2                        Pre-conference activities (See ‘Pre-conference Events’ page by selecting the link on menu on the right)

September 3                        Day 1 of conference

September 4                        Day 2 of conference

September 5                        Day 3 of conference





Pre-conference events

September 2:

(Participation in the Education and Children’s Thematic Group workshops is limited – if interested, please contact Caroline Hart at
To register for the Health and Disability Workshop, contact Sophie Mitra at

  • 4:50 pm – 5:50 pm:  Frances Stewart lecture on “The Origins of  Human Development: From Growth to Human Development”
  • 6:00 pm – 6:50 pm: Jennifer Prah Ruger talk on “Health Capability: Conceptualization and Operationalization”
  • 6:00 pm – 6:50 pm: Astra Bonnini’s talk on “Vulnerability and Resilience – HDRO”
  • 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Martha Nussbaum lecture on “Injustice and the Dubious Value of Anger”






Registration & fees


Register at:

 Registration Rates

  • Professionals from high income countries: $510
  • Students from high income countries: $350
  • Professionals/students from low/middle income countries and from: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, F.Y.R.O.M., Montenegro, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Cyprus, Turkey: $280

(Please use the World Bank classification of low, middle and high-income countries to determine your registration rate. (






The conference will be held at the President Hotel in Athens. Accommodations are available at a reduced rate for conference participants. Please e-mail to book your reservations. Please note that there are a limited number of rooms available at these rates, and reservations will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Single room:  66 Euro (including taxes and American buffet breakfast)

Double room: 69 Euro (including taxes and American buffet breakfast)

Triple room:   91 Euro (including taxes and American buffet breakfast)

More information on accommodation and practicalities can be found on the conference website of the local organizer:






Organising Committee 

  • Spyridon Pantazis, University of Ioannina (president)
  • Hans-Uwe Otto, Bielefeld University
  • Antoanneta Potsi, University of Ioannina
  • Sabine Schäfer, Bielefeld University
  • Harilaos Zaragas, University of Ioannina
  • Konstantinos Karadimitriou, Democritus University of Thrace
  • Konstantinos Bais, University of Ioannina

Program Committee

  • Hans-Uwe Otto, Bielefeld University (president)
  • Aristides Hatzis, National Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Antonios Hourdakis, University of Crete
  • Adil Najam, Boston University
  • Spiros Pantazis, University of Ioannina
  • Andreas Papandreou, National Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Henry Richardson, Georgetown University, President-elect of HDCA
  • Ingrid Robeyns, Erasmus University of Rotterdam
  • Frances Stewart, Oxford University
  • Martin van Hees, University of Amsterdam
  • Holger Ziegler, Bielefeld University

International Committee

  • Triantafyllos Albanis, University of Ioannina
  • Martin Egelhaaf, Bielefeld University
  • Heinz Sünker, University of Wuppertal
  • Niels Rosendal Jensen, Aahrus University
  • Jo Moran-Ellis, Surrey University

Sen/Haq Lecture Series Committee

  • Frances Stewart, Oxford University (chair)
  • Adil Najam, Boston University
  • Ingrid Robeyns, Utrecht University
  • Henry Richardson, Georgetown University
  • Martin van Hees, University of Amsterdam

Advisory Committee

  • Gareth Wall, University of Birmingham (chair)
  • Kathy Rosenblum, HDCA

Conference Manager:

  • Antoanneta Potsi, University of Ioannina






The 2014 HDCA Conference aims to keep the participants’ fees as low as possible, so that all interested parties can participate. Therefore, the registration fees are not sufficient to fully fund the conference. We rely more than ever on promotions of companies and foundations. We are convinced that the theme of the conference attracts not only academic interest, but also that of the private sector and society as a whole. The question of human development in our times of crisis is one of the most important issues of the current decade.

For more information on sponsorships, please visit, or contact: