Working to improve lives, reduce inequality and protect the environment

The world is complex, and the challenges can seem overwhelming. Here in the Department of Global Development, we unlock the energies and talents of experts from a range of disciplines to address some of the biggest problems facing humanity. We know solutions are hard. But we never stop asking questions, seeking answers and partnering with people and communities to make life better, everywhere. 

With a focus on education with impact, our transdisciplinary approach emphasizes real-world engagement with communities in New York state and around the globe. Our dynamic learning atmosphere and academic culture goes beyond purely technical work to provide deep analysis and transformative solutions.

This is what we do. We catalyze change and provoke fresh understanding. We develop next-generation leaders through engaged and active learning that connects students with field experiences. This is who we are. We are committed to justice, to science, to people, and we never stop striving to make direct social impact all around the globe.

60+

Faculty and academic staff

200+

Undergraduate students

70+

Graduate students

The world is complex. But we believe understanding is possible.

We take a multidisciplinary approach to tackle the biggest challenges of our time.

Food Security & Nutrition

Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 

Development Sociology

Understanding human behavior and interactions

Rural & community development

Solving local problems with homegrown solutions

Climate change

Sustaining a healthy Earth

Gender, race and ethnicity

Fighting for equality for everyone, everywhere

Economics

Confronting the cycle of poverty 

Education & leadership

Cultivating next-generation leaders  

Plant Sciences

Breeding crops for a food-secure world

Demography

Studying the structure of the human population

On the international stage

A woman with glasses on the top of her head sits at a desk in an office
Engaged research

54+

Visiting scientists & fellows

from over 20 countries

Land acknowledgement

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State and the United States of America. 

We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

Making a sustainable impact

Recent insights, news and events in the Department of Global Development

Books on a shelf

News

Prison education program leader Rob Scott joins Global Development
Rob Scott, a leader in politically engaged education in New York state who has led efforts to establish local and national coalitions for higher education in prison, has joined Cornell’s Department of Global Development as an adjunct assistant...
  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

News

The book “In the Struggle: Scholars and the Fight Against Industrial Agribusiness in California” by Professor Scott J. Peters and Daniel J. O’Connell, Ph.D. ’11 weaves together the stories of eight scholar-activists who opposed agribusiness...

  • Polson Institute for Global Development
  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development
A tree-lined rocky creek

News

The rocky surface of Earth’s geology may provide a buffer for climate change to absorb excess carbon, according to a new Cornell paper in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Department of Global Development
  • Environment