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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

HDCA-SPONSORED WEBINAR: Capabilities and Covid-19


Tuesday, May 26, 6 PM – 8 PM UTC+01
Panelists: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Sophie Mitra, Sridhar Venkatapuram

The Covid-19 crisis has already had devastating effects. Many have died, and it seems many more are likely to. Many others will become ill, economies have been halted, borders closed. The path forward appears difficult for both individuals and governments around the world.

For this discussion, we'll be bringing together figures from the Capability Approach field, and Fellows of the HDCA to discuss key issues, and to look at how we can understand what's taking place through a Capabilities lens.

How can we understand this in terms of Capabilities? How can a Capabilities framework help us to understand how CoVid-19 is affecting communities differently, and why? How will the Covid-19 crisis be affected by pre-existing inequalities and how will it create inequalities? During a crisis for existing economies, with ecological challenges ahead, can the Capabilities framework offer an alternative outlook as to the way forward from this crisis?

Panelist background:

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr is the Director of the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs and Professor of International Affairs at The New School. Her teaching and research have focused on human rights and development, global health, and global goal setting and governance by indicators. From 1995 to 2004, she was lead author and director of the UNDP Human Development Reports. Her recent publications include: Millennium Development Goals: Ideas, Interests and Influence (Routledge 2017); Fulfilling Social and Economic Rights (with T. Lawson-Remer and S. Randolph, Oxford 2015), winner of the American Political Science Association’s 2016 Best Book in Human Rights Scholarship and the 2019 Grawemeyer Prize for Ideas to Improve the World Order.
Fukuda-Parr contributes actively to international policy and research processes. Most recent appointments include the UN Committee on Development Policy as Vice Chair, the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines and Innovation, and Boards of Knowledge Ecology International and International Association for Feminist Economics. She directs the Independent Panel on Global Governance for Health at the University of Oslo, and also serves as Distinguished Fellow at the JICA Research Institute, Tokyo.
Sridhar Venkatapuram is based at the King's Global Health Institute, where he is Director of Global Health Education & Training. His academic training is in a range of disciplines, including International Relations (Brown University), Public Health (Harvard University), Sociology (Cambridge University) and Political Philosophy (Cambridge University). His doctoral dissertation on the philosophical argument for a moral/human right to 'the capability to be healthy' was examined and passed without corrections by Amartya Sen. It formed the basis of his first book, Health Justice: An argument from the capabilities approach, published in 2011 by Polity Press.
Sridhar has also been at the forefront of public/global practice and policy for over twenty years. He was a pioneer of the health and human rights movement as the first researcher at Human Rights Watch to examine HIV/AIDS and other health issues directly as human rights concerns (1992-1997).
He has worked with the Ford Foundation, Population Council, Open Societies Institute and Doctors of the World, amongst other organisations. At Harvard (1998-2000), he worked with the late Arjun Sengupta, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development in conceptualising its philosophical and ethical framework.
Starting at the 2012 International Association of Bioethics conference in Rotterdam, Sridhar and colleagues began exploring the ethical issues relating to justice and global ageing. Recently, the World Health Organisation relied on Sridhar’s conception of health in defining health ageing for their World Report on Ageing and Health.
Sophie Mitra is Professor in the Department of Economics, co-director of the Disability Studies Program and founding director of the Research Consortium on Disability at Fordham University. Her research interests relate to disability, health, international development and social protection. She is the author of Disability, Health and Human Development (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018).
She has studied the economic impact of disability and mental illness, multidimensional poverty, the association between disability and poverty, the definition of disability. Some of her research is interdisciplinary and uses mixed and participatory methods. She has published in many peer reviewed journals in economics and interdisciplinary journals in disability policy, public health and development studies. She is a fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association, a Fordham-Columbia research fellow and an affiliate of the Columbia China Center for Social Policy.

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