Unprecedented famine plagued much of the world in 1973-74. Almost daily, Americans read headlines on the oil embargo, drought, and crop failures--and concern about world hunger soared. At Wheaton College, Dr. Howard Claassen, professor of physics, suggested that students should not only be more aware of th problems of world hunger but also strive to address them. During a faith and learning seminar in the summer of 1974, he proposed that Wheaton begin a global study-service program. That fall, an ad hoc committee of faculty and students began planning such a program, which the committee later named the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) Program. Dr. Wayne G. Bragg served as the Program's first director from 1976 until 1986. He brought the Program through its critical first years and established its reputation as a unique learning experience throughout higher education. Dr. Robert ("Bob") Stickney served as director from 1987 to 1999. Under his leadership, HNGR broadened its multidisciplinary base and expanded the number of internships available to students. The Program experienced steady growth under Bob's leadership. Dr. Paul Robinson was selected in 1999 to replace Dr. Stickney. Paul strengthened the academic and spiritual growth aspects of the Program throughout his time here. In 2013, Paul left Wheaton College to continue his work in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo. That same year, Dr. Laura S Meitzner Yoder joined the HNGR staff as the fourth director of the Program.
Laura is assisted in the HNGR office by Ryan Juskus (Assistant Director), Sydney McRay, M.A. (Special Assistant to the Director), Barbara Watson (Office Manager), and Chris Wilson (Research and Program Assistant).
The first HNGR interns went overseas in the spring of 1977, and the Program has since become known as a unique educational opportunity and a life-changing experience for students. One HNGR intern described it as a "transforming process--not just practical learning, but the kind that broadens your mind, humbles your spirit, and enriches your vision for the future." More than 750 students have participated between 1977 and 2014.
The Program has also become an important campus resource center for the study of development and other issues of importance to the Majority World. The HNGR Library and Resource Center includes copies of independent study reports written by HNGR Interns, plus country information, maps, books, and videos. Throughout the academic year, HNGR sponsors speakers from the Majority World who bring an awareness of non-Western perspectives to the campus. HNGR interns give an annual presentation in Edman Chapel for the entire campus community.