Paul Glewwe launched the Midwest International Economic Development Conference (MIEDC) in 2004 to facilitate collaboration between University of Minnesota faculty and graduate students and leading international economic development researchers. Previously, most international development conferences were held in Europe or the East Coast of the U.S., which required access to travel funding for faculty and graduates students at UMN and other Midwestern universities. Initiating a new conference in the Midwest greatly increased the opportunities for both faculty and graduate students to interact with, and in some cases collaborate with, faculty and graduate students not only from the U.S. but also Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Australia.
In addition to presentations by conference participants and keynote speeches by leading development economists, faculty and graduate students in different departments at UMN are exposed to new research on international development. In 2022, 161 papers were submitted. MIEDC assigns discussants for each paper, so all presenters receive detailed comments on their papers, and ample time is scheduled for other participants' comments. The small size of the conference makes it possible for participants to discuss their own research with peers with different, global perspectives.
A professor of applied economics in the UMN College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, Professor Glewwe's contacts with other development economists generated ample interest in the conference. The conference has continued to grow since its inception at the University of Minnesota. MIEDC has been hosted by the University of Wisconsin, Purdue University, Northwestern University, and the University of Houston.