Development economist Lakshmi Iyer holds appointment in Keough School of Global Affairs


April 23, 2017 — Lakshmi Iyer, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in the Department of Economics in 2016, holds a joint appointment in the Keough School of Global Affairs. She will teach Economics of Growth and Development, a core course for all students in the new Master of Global Affairs (MGA). She also will serve as director of the MGA’s Sustainable Development concentration, which focuses on preparing students for careers as international development practitioners and policymakers.

Iyer is a development economist who has done fieldwork, data analysis, and case studies in India, Vietnam, China, Nepal, Indonesia, and the Philippines. She joined the faculty after 13 years at the Harvard Business School. She holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Indian Statistical Institute.

“Professor Iyer is a dynamic scholar and teacher who is a leader in establishing the curricular direction of the Keough School, with its focus on all facets of human development,” said Dean Scott Appleby. “Her research and deep understanding of the challenges facing people who are marginalized — politically, economically, and culturally — is informed by considerable time spent among those people.

“She brings to us and our students a breadth of expertise and interests — from property rights and the legacy of colonial rule, to voting patterns and women’s political participation, to urbanization and violence against religious minorities — that is comprehensive and human-centered in its approach. We are truly delighted she is part of the Keough School leadership team.”

Iyer said the concept of Integral Human Development, the guiding principle of the Keough School, resonates with her own identity as a scholar.

“As a development economist, I am always considering issues that aim to improve the lives of people, not only lifting people out of poverty but going beyond to address issues such as crimes against women and crimes against lower castes.

“Economic growth can help drive people out of poverty, but it doesn’t automatically lead to Integral Human Development. Students need at least a broad understanding of core economic principles and policies — along with history, politics, cultural context — to be effective in their work, and that’s what this core class will offer.

Iyer said she was drawn to Notre Dame in part because of its ambitious vision.

“Notre Dame is taking this big step of starting a new school of global affairs, and it certainly didn’t have to do that. We could sit back and say ‘we have a great reputation, we have great students,’ let’s leave it at that. Instead, there is so much energy here. Ambition guided by a social mission with a vision of improving the world is very appealing to me.”

The Keough School will welcome its first class of professional master’s students (in Sustainable Development, International Peace Studies, and Global Affairs + Specialization) in fall 2017.