Our People

Participant biographies and projects

           Please ask Eric Palmer for access.


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Fred Gifford is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Faculty Associate in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences at Michigan State University. He is also the director of MSU’s graduate specialization in Ethics and Development. His research and teaching interests include philosophy of science and ethics, especially topics at their intersection, including medicine and health, agricultural biotechnology and development ethics. Much of his recent work has focused on ethical and methodological issues in clinical trials and research more generally, including the ethics of research in developing nations. He developed and has taught eight times a Study Abroad program, “Ethics and History of Development and Health Care in Costa Rica”, which explores bioethics and health care justice as well as ethical issues concerning public health, environment and development. He co-edited with Stephen Esquith Capabilities, Power, and Institution: Toward a More Critical Development Ethics (Penn State, 2010).

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Eric Palmer is Professor of Philosophy at Allegheny College. His recent research in development ethics concerns multinational corporate responsibility in developing nations, particularly in cases of resource extraction.  He also focuses upon vulnerability and finance, inquiring into for-profit credit schemes directed at the poor in less developed nations (through microfinance and electronic cash) and more developed nations (through credit cards and payday lending). He argues that corporate responsibility in each of these areas of business, when viewed through the lens of the capability approach to development, implies specific duties for multinational corporations and finance capital. He is co-editor of Journal of Global Ethics and President of the International Development Ethics Association.

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meissnerpicconfShelbi Meissner is a PhD student in philosophy at MSU; she is assisting NEH conference coordinators. Her research interests include Indigenous philosophy, philosophy of science, and feminist epistemology.

2013-07-25 10.46.04Aidan Sprague-Rice: Is the person behind the scenes who pops onto the scene: He is approaching his dissertation, and is focused on alternatives to capitalism, in the context of an investigation of Habermas and positive freedom.

Invited Speakers


Bina Agarwal is Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the University of Manchester, UK. Until recently she was Director of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University. She is also President of the International Society for Ecological Economics. Agarwal has been Vice-President of the International Economic Association, President of the International Association for Feminist Economics, on the Board of the Global Development Network, and a member of the Commission for the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, chaired by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. She served two terms on the UN Committee for Development Policy. Among her best known works is A Field of One’s Own : Gender and Land Rights in South Asia (Cambridge University Press, 1994). In 2002 she received the Malcolm Adhiseshiah award for distinguished contributions to Development Studies, and in 2005 the Ramesh Chandra award for “outstanding contributions to agricultural economics”. Her writings placed the issue of women’s land rights centrally on the agenda of governments, civil society groups, and international agencies. In 2005, she also catalyzed a successful campaign for the comprehensive amendment of Hindu Inheritance law in India to make it gender equal. In 2008, Agarwal received a Padma Shri from the President of India for her contributions to education; and in 2010 the Leontief Prize from Tufts University ‘for advancing the frontiers of economic thought.’


Alison M. Jaggar is a College Professor of Distinction at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She holds a joint appointment between Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies and an affiliation with Ethnic Studies. Jaggar is also a Professor Two at the University of Oslo, Norway, and a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Birmingham, UK. Jaggar pioneered the introduction of feminist concerns into philosophy and helped found the discipline of feminist studies. She co-founded SWIP and Hypatia, chaired the APA Committee on the Status of Women, and was SWIP’s Distinguished Woman Philosopher of 1995. Jaggar has been awarded research fellowships from the AAUW, the University of Edinburgh, the Rockefeller Foundation, and National Endowment for the Humanities. Her recent books include: Gender and Global Justice (Polity 2014); Pogge and his Critics (Polity 2010); Abortion: Three Perspectives, with Michael Tooley et al (Oxford University Press, 2009); and Just Methods: An Interdisciplinary Feminist Reader, (Paradigm Press 2008, 2013).


Naila KabeerI have been working in the field of gender in international development for over 25 years, first as a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, then as Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University and now at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science.  The work I have done has combined teaching, training, research and advisory work and I have always sought to combine my academic work with various forms of practical engagement with policy-makers and practitioners at national and international levels.  So I have worked with Oxfam, Women for Women International (and been on both their boards of Trustees for a while), ActionAid, PRADAN, BRAC and Nijera Kori, served in an advisory capacity for various World Bank, UN and Nordic agencies and continue to be engaged with Save the Children Fund and Feminist Review Trust. My research interests, which revolve around concerns with gender and other forms of discrimination, encompass a number of themes, including labor markets and livelihoods, poverty, social protection and citizenship and much of my primary research has been carried out in South Asia although I have also worked in Vietnam.   A constant thread in this work, sometimes an explicit focus, sometime implicit, has been the question of women’s empowerment and gender justice in contexts where even basic negative liberties cannot be taken for granted.  I have been particularly interested in approaching these questions from a livelihoods perspective, given that the majority of the groups I work with are extremely poor.


Serene J. Khader is Jay Newman Chair in Philosophy of Culture and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Her research lies at the intersection of feminist and global ethics. Her work develops normative frameworks for diagnosing and responding to deprivation across cultural and economic difference. She is the author of a book (Adaptive Preferences and Women’s Empowerment, Oxford 2011) and several articles on adaptive preferences—preferences by which oppressed and deprived people become complicit in injustice against them. This work on adaptive preferences focuses on women’s acceptance of sexist cultural practices. She has also worked in development ethics more broadly and published on topics such as participatory development and transnational reproductive tourism. She teaches specialized courses in transnational feminisms, feminist theory, global justice, and human rights, in addition to broader courses in ethics and political philosophy. Her academic work is influenced by her short-term experience as a development practitioner in East Africa, and as an activist in both international and domestic contexts. She has also participated in two relevant NEH Summer Seminars—one on development ethics in 2013 and one on liberalism and the global order in 2010.


Christine Koggel is Professor of Philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Before coming to Carleton she taught at Bryn Mawr College, PA, where she was the Harvey Wexler Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for International Studies. Her main research and teaching interests are in the areas of moral theory, practical ethics, feminism, and social and political theory. She is the author of Perspectives on Equality: Constructing a Relational Theory (199ag8), a book that brings together her interests in moral, social, political and feminist theory. She is the editor of Moral Issues in Global Perspective (1999) and of the Second edition of an expanded three volumes of Moral Issues in Global Perspective (Volume I: Moral and Political Theory; Volume II: Human Diversity and Equality; and Volume III: Moral Issues) (2006). With Wesley Cragg she has co-edited the Fourth edition of Contemporary Moral Issues (1997) as well as the Fifth edition of Contemporary Moral Issues (2005). Her most recent research is in the area of development ethics. She has contributed an article on agency to a special volume on the work of Amartya Sen in Feminist Economics and has numerous publications in journals and book collections on topics such as empowerment, global justice, feminist ethics, relational theory, and the capability approach.


Henry Shue. Starting in 1992 I have been writing about global justice and development in the context of climate change, which threatens quickly to become the greatest obstacle to sustainable development and already represents an extreme case of global injustice insofar as those who will suffer most from climate change are those who have contributed least to causing it (the non-industrialized). In 2014 Oxford University Press published my first seventeen articles on climate change as Climate Justice: Vulnerability and Protection, and several more articles have appeared subsequently. My next research project is a 3rd edition of Basic Rights with a new chapter on the implications for subsistence rights in developing countries of the degree of justice of the international institutions created to deal with climate change.  My previous experience teaching at an NEH Summer Institute was in 2007 at Georgia State.  My most relevant current practical experience is membership on the High Level Advisory Committe [HLAC] for the Climate Justice Dialogue initiated by Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, and the World Resources Institute; most members of the HLAC are from developing countries impacted by climate change, including several other former national Presidents.


Asuncion Lera St.Clair, philosopher and sociologist, is Deputy Program Director for the Low Carbon Future, Det Norske Veritas – Germanischer Lloyd (DNV-GL AS.), Norway. She was recently Research Director for Climate and Development at the International Centre for Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo (CICERO) and Associated Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsens Institute. St. Clair is also Lead Author of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and co-author chapter 1 (“Point of Departure”) of the Working Group II Report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. She is President of the International Development Ethics Association (IDEA) and member of the editorial boards of various international journals. Her research interests are focused on ethical issues related to poverty and development, with a focus on the key challenges posed by climate change


MSU Resident Guest Lecturers

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson holds the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University. Thompson’s work on biotechnology has appeared in numerous technical journals and has also published extensively on the environmental and social significance of agriculture. He serves on the Science and Industry Advisory Committee for Genome Canada.


Stephen Esquith is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University.  He wrote The Political Responsibilities of Everyday Bystanders and co-edited with Fred Gifford Capabilities, Power, and Institutions (Penn State).  He has led development ethics study abroad programs in Mali.

Kyle Whyte

Kyle Whyte is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University. Dr. Whyte writes on environmental, sustainability and public policy ethics, and American Indian philosophy. His articles have appeared in numerous journals such as Synthese, Human Ecology, and Journal of Global Ethics.