St. Paul, Minn. – Sophie Macks ’16, a senior anthropology major from San Francisco, Calif., will be a panel presenter at the Eighth Annual Human Development Conference at Notre Dame, February 26-27. The conference’s theme isRe-Imagining Development: Pursuing Good in a Changing World.”

Macks’ thesis, titled “Adapting to Urbanization: Internal Indigenous Migration in Chapod, Chile,” explores the impacts and pressures of modernization and urbanization on the rural Mapuche community of Chapod in southern Chile.

Through interviews with community members, Macks found that for many, a daily commute between the rural community and the city of Temuco is a critical aspect of daily life. This daily commute, which was not possible to make 10 or 15 years ago, has enabled people to keep living in the countryside instead of moving to Temuco, thereby helping maintain a strong indigenous identity rooted in the rural space, while also allowing individuals and families to take advantage of opportunities that Temuco offers.

“My anthropology training allowed me to approach my study abroad experience from a unique perspective, and allowed me to put my skills and knowledge to use in a real-life setting,” said Macks.

“Specifically, my experience in ethnographic interviewing and other classes I have taken at Macalester helped me think critically about issues I explored on my program and through my independent study project, such as those of social justice, indigenous rights, migration, and development.” 

The University of Notre Dame’s Human Development Conference (HDC) is an annual, student-led conference that provides a platform for dialogue in which students from all different backgrounds and disciplines can share their development-focused research.

This year’s conference focuses on the transformative power of new ideas: how development paradigms that emphasize agency, inclusivity, and dignity can redefine success and challenge traditional methods in development.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 2,138 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at


February 1 2016

Back to top