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Charles Kenny is a senior fellow and the director of technology and development at the Center for Global Development. His current work focuses on gender and development, the role of technology in development, governance and anticorruption and the post-2015 development agenda. He has published articles, chapters and books on issues including what we know about the causes of economic growth, the link between economic growth and broader development, the causes of improvements in global health, the link between economic growth and happiness, the end of the Malthusian trap, the role of communications technologies in development, the ‘digital divide,’ corruption, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. He is the author of the book "Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding, and How We Can Improve the World Even More" and “The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Great for the West.” He has been a contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine and a regular contributor to Business Week magazine. Kenny was previously at the World Bank, where his assignments included working with the VP for the Middle East and North Africa Region, coordinating work on governance and anticorruption in infrastructure and natural resources, and managing a number of investment and technical assistance projects covering telecommunications and the Internet.
Charles Kenny's weekly Foreign Policy column on development success vs. the apocalypse.
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Mayan mythology enthusiasts, Christian evangelicals, and assorted conspiracy theorists all have their reasons to believe the world is going to end the Saturday after next, May 21. We will know that this particular date is wrong soon enough -- or we'll be too busy being flambéed to care. But it's worth engaging the generally apocalyptically inclined, nonetheless, if just to prove that, even on the terms of their own dystopian visions, the end of days are nowhere close to being near. All the things that should be happening as we approach the final reckoning -- contagious disease, starvation, mass violence, that kind of stuff -- have never been rarer planetwide. That's a success of global development, of course -- but you wouldn't know it from either the placard-bearing apocalypsta or the tin-cup-waving development agencies. And it is a sign that both need a new marketing strategy.
In the Bible, plague, famine, war, and death arrive at the end of days in order to pave the way for the judgment of the quick and the dead. The Hindu Bhavishya Purana, meanwhile, suggests that near the end of the world the age of human beings will be reduced to 10 years and height will be reduced to 2 to 3 feet. Watch the evening news, and you might get the sense the apocalypse is near upon us. In fact half of all news stories concern violence, conflict, and suffering, according to Roger Johnson, a professor emeritus at Ramapo College. But if those are our markers for the end times, the world needn't expect the Last Judgment anytime soon: Plague, famine, war, short life expectancies, and stunted people are increasingly rare. Rather than heeding or ignoring the many popular calls to repent our sins, we should be asking what everyone is so worried about.
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Charles Kenny takes a look at the Peace Corps, fifty years after its founding. Demand from developing countries for volunteers outstrips the Peace Corps’ capacity to respond. Nonetheless, he argues, the agency operates on a model designed for a very different world, and an evolutionary change in that model from a government-operated program to a grant-making system closer to the Fulbright scholarships could result in a higher effectiveness in meeting the Peace Corps’ fundamental goals over its next fifty years of life.