Our Themes

Throughout 2018, the Pulte Institute for Global Development worked with internal and external stakeholders to define a clearer, shared vision to guide our collective efforts to address global poverty and inequality. From these conversations came five, distinct domains of thematic focus:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Humanitarianism
  3. Effective States and Development
  4. Business in Development
  5. Global Health

These five domains of thematic focus connect to poverty and inequality and the values put forth by Pope Francis in Laudato si’: On Care for Our Common Home; His Holiness’ encyclical letter on the environment and human development.

The Pulte Institute seeks to work creatively and collaboratively with faculty, researchers, and students at the Keough School of Global Affairs, and across Notre Dame, in building a reputation for excellence on each of these themes.


In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with approximately 200 government signatories, which set concrete, universal targets for global development.

At the Pulte Institute, we recognize that society and natural resources are integrally linked, and that the Earth’s environment and scarce resources must be stewarded with ever-increasing care. Notre Dame faculty already conduct important research on climate, energy, water, poverty, and sustainable cities; and the Pulte Institute will collaborate with these faculty on these important research areas as they relate to poverty and inequality.


Over 65 million refugees are displaced today, having fled their homes due to conflict or natural disaster, and millions more are on the move as economic migrants. Billions of dollars are spent annually to prevent violent conflicts, alleviate suffering, negotiate peace, rebuild societies, and resettle the displaced. There is increasing consensus that while lives must be saved in crisis situations, humanitarianism and development must be connected in order for interventions to be successful and sustainable.

There is much work to be done in the humanitarianism field, both domestically and globally, and the Pulte Institute hopes that by working with scholars and practitioners within the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights, the College of Engineering, NGO partners, and global Catholic networks, we might make meaningful contributions.

Effective States and Development

There is an increasing recognition of the importance of good governance and effective states as essential to the realization of the SDGs. The Pulte Institute’s focus will be on the role of the state in discharging its responsibilities for protection of the economic, social, and cultural rights of citizens through the state’s development policies and programs.

As foreign aid diminishes, it will become more important for states to have effective systems of program planning, fiscal governance, taxation, and budget management in place. States will require increasingly sophisticated tools to meet the expectations of citizens, discharge these roles effectively, and minimize corruption and the potential for pernicious governance.

The Pulte Institute will focus on the applied policy and the operational challenges of building a state that is truly delivering on the SDGs for its citizens in terms of quality of life improvements and overall security. While global development efforts have lifted millions of people out of poverty, not all efforts have had the intended impact. The Institute will continue its focus on aid effectiveness and policy in the poorest of nations by researching existing programs, evaluating donor agency innovations, and designing new approaches and policies to deliver more effective aid.

We will work with faculty across Notre Dame on the challenge of accelerating the impact of global efforts to promote IHD and to eliminate extreme poverty and inequality.

Business in Development

Private investment is flowing to less developed countries at unprecedented levels from all over the world. These investments will shape nations, as well as impact businesses in communities throughout the world. The role of business as a development actor is new and is creating challenging ethical dilemmas for organizations as they enter nations with weak institutions and corruption. Increasing levels and scale of corruption are robbing poor nations of the very resources they require to drive their own development.

Notre Dame has a long tradition of leadership on ethical business practices. Building upon a history of relations with private sector firms and pursuing deeper relations with key University centers and individuals, the Pulte Institute will collaborate with the McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business and the Mendoza College of Business to position itself as a thought leader on global business policy and practice. With adequate resources, the Pulte Institute hopes to provide a home for discussions on ethical and sustainable supply chain performance, social entrepreneurship, financial tools for the poor, public-private partnerships, and impact investing.

Global Health

In a globalized world, disease moves quickly across borders. Epidemics and pandemics are a real threat, as the Ebola and SARS outbreaks demonstrated, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more commonplace. Meanwhile, global and national public health systems are weak and inadequate.

The Pulte Institute will collaborate with the Eck Institute for Global Health to promote critical research and policy development on global public health challenges, policy, and interventions. Notre Dame’s historic commitment to work on malaria positions us well for greater levels of support and opportunities to address other rare and neglected diseases. The Institute will seek to take the knowledge developed by University researchers to field practitioners, who are on the front lines in developing countries and can put these findings to work through explicit operational partnerships or policy development collaborations.