Institute for Developing Nations

IDN: Who We Are

In 2006 US President Jimmy Carter and Emory University President James Wagner founded the Institute for Developing Nations (IDN) to signal their commitment to joining higher education and international development. IDN connects research and academic programs at Emory and The Carter Center’s Peace and Health programs to strengthen scholarship on development and provide direct support to development efforts in some of the poorest countries in the world. Through research and action, IDN is reshaping the role of higher education in international development.

Our Story

Jimmy Carter and James Wagner

In 1982 former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter founded The Carter Center in partnership with Emory University. In the nearly three decades since then, the Center has become an internationally recognized non-governmental organization with programs that support human rights and alleviate human suffering around the world, particularly in the poorest regions. In this time, the Center and Emory have deepened the many connections between them. The Center emphasizes action to alleviate conditions of poverty, while Emory focuses on the creation, preservation, teaching, and open exchange of knowledge in the service of humanity. While their missions differ, both institutions share a commitment to knowledge as a catalyst for meaningful, sustainable change and social transformation.

In 2005 President Carter and Emory President James Wagner visited a number of Carter Center Programs in sub-Saharan Africa, including the Trachoma Control Program in Mosebo, Ethiopia. During this trip they saw an opportunity to meet the complex challenges of development and to inspire researchers and students to be part of the solution to problems associated with poverty in low-income countries. A year later IDN was launched as a university-wide effort to advance interdisciplinary, action-oriented scholarship on development.

IDN leverages the strengths of the partnership between The Carter Center and Emory. During its first year, an advisory committee comprising 26 senior scholars from across the university and leaders from Emory and The Carter Center, wanted to emphasize the importance of scholarship that crossed disciplinary boundaries, was informed by history and culture, and engaged with a range of development stakeholders inside and outside higher education. In addition, the committee wanted IDN to pay explicit attention to the politics of knowledge that shape development practice to build partnerships. They also wanted to live up to President Carter’s charge that IDN advance research that would make a difference to those living in developing areas – the very people whose lives are shaped by poverty, social injustice, and insecurity.