History and Future

The Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) was established in 2012 by Notre Dame Research to be a primary University contact point with potential partners and funding agencies outside of Notre Dame and in the larger development community within the United States and around the world.

NDIGD was also designed to serve the University’s institutes, centers, and programs by providing monitoring and evaluation, assessments, training, and strategic planning support for global development projects. NDIGD was also tasked with also providing information, advice, and assistance in identifying and obtaining international contract and grant funds from government or private agencies to contribute to global development.

Perhaps most importantly, NDIGD was designed to help the University live up to Fr. Edward Sorin's original mission of making the University a "powerful force for good."

Since its founding, NDIGD has proven to be an impactful new addition to the Notre Dame family of international-focused units. The Initiative helped grow the University’s research portfolio with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from no active USAID grants in 2012 to over 16 in 2017. By 2015, NDIGD was a part of approximately half of all of the University's grants and contracts related to international development.

NDIGD has also successfully helped connect the University with new partners and strengthen ties with existing partners. The Initiative has helped develop 10 private sector partnerships to provide research and education and help improve lives in developing countries, including partnerships with Accenture, HP, IBM Corporation, Coca-Cola, Verizon, GE, Bisk Education, Capsim, VWR, and Lenovo. Additionally, NDIGD was awarded the first-ever research grants to the University from numerous organizations, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Blue Planet Network, Project Concern International, International Justice Mission, FHI360, and others.


A New Home and a New Direction

In 2017, NDIGD officially became one of seven centers and institutes to join Notre Dame's new Keough School of Global Affairs, the first new college or school at the University in a century. NDIGD relocated from its original home on the ninth floor of Grace Hall to the third floor of the newly built Jenkins Nanovic Halls, much closer to the heart of campus. The fall semester of 2017 marked the first time in NDIGD’s history that the University of Notre Dame was able to count full-time, NDIGD affiliated faculty among its ranks.

Throughout 2018, NDIGD’s leadership spent over six months consulting with dozens of internal and external stakeholders in order to develop a clearer, shared vision for NDIGD in the form of a new, five-year strategic plan. 

The new strategic plan, which is to be implemented between 2019 and 2024, aims to position NDIGD as an internationally recognized institution that boldly and effectively addresses global poverty and inequality through the avenues of policy, practice, and partnership. NDIGD now endeavors to "enhance human dignity, equity, and well-being for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations by addressing today’s most compelling global issues," per its new vision statement.

In order to fulfill this vision, the plan defines three primary goals for NDIGD to work toward during the next five-year period:

  • Build research excellence in poverty and inequality and establish our presence in key policy fora.
  • Build curricular specialization in development practice and offer experiential learning for leadership and professional placement.
  • Build and manage an extensive network of global partnerships to take Notre Dame research to the front lines of development policy and practice.

The plan was unveiled at a launch event on Friday, December 7, 2019. At the event, Ray Offenheiser, director of NDIGD, gave a brief overview of the plan and its goals.

"Our goal in this exercise, to put it quite simply, was to define NDIGD’s value added contribution to the mission of the new Keough School of Global Affairs," explained Offenheiser. "With this new vision statement, we are making a clear commitment to focus on global poverty and inequality. While there are a variety of centers around the University that touch upon poverty from a pedagogical or experiential perspective, there are none devoted to viewing it from the perspective of practice and policy. We’re choosing to play that role."

Download NDIGD's Strategic Plan: 2019-2024 (PDF)