Rigorous training for social scientists and development professionals

The Ph.D. in Development Studies (previously known as Development Sociology) integrates diverse frameworks and methodologies with classical sociological theory to fuel investigation, analysis, and evaluation of social phenomenon. Our graduate students are at the frontlines of developing solutions to pressing issues — from agriculture and food systems to gender, economics and demographics — on the local and global scale. 

Research spotlight

Discover more about development studies research from our current Ph.D. students.


Climate Justice and Blue Carbon Issues

Tamar Law's research examines the climate justice dimensions of climate mitigation. As the recipient of the 2023 Ronny Adhikarya Niche Award (RANA) Prize, Tamar will examine blue carbon governance and low-carbon development in Indonesia.

“Climate management can exacerbate existing inequalities as countries in the Global South are increasingly forced to shoulder the burden of both climate shocks and responsibility for climate mitigation,” Tamar said. “With my research I hope to delineate mitigation pathways that promote climate justice and resilient climate futures for all.”


Engaging Men in Gender Equality, Food Security & Sustainable Livelihoods

Emily Hillenbrand examines processes and implications of gender-transformative approaches and shifting masculinities in agriculture development programming. Her research is conducted in partnership with Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities (SFHC) in Malawi, a farmer-led non-profit organization that addresses the challenges of soil infertility, climate change, food insecurity, and gender inequality.


Social, political, and economic impediments to a green energy transition

Timothy Ravis explores how technological change affects the relationships between state, society, and nature, through the specific history and geography of Indonesia. Drawing on novel approaches in political ecology and geography, his research looks to analyze the social forces and structures which hinder the large-scale development of renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, in Indonesia. He is the inaugural recipient of the Cornell RANA Prize, which recognizes Global Development graduate students pursuing innovative thinking in their studies and careers.


The Adoption of Decentralized Renewable Energy Technologies

Camillo Stubenberg examines the rushed adoption of off-grid and renewable energy technologies after the interlocking political and financial crisis that led to a total breakdown of the Lebanon’s electricity sector. By shedding light on the ongoing dynamics in Lebanon, this research provides insights both for the design of renewable energy systems as well as policies aimed at fostering energy transitions across the globe.

Tamar Law headshot
Emily Hillenbrand
Timothy Ravis
Camillo Stubenberg

Where are they now?

Learn more about our Ph.D. alumni and what they are currently working on.

Hilary Faxon
Holly Buck headshot
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Contact Us

Rachel Bezner Kerr headshot
Rachel Bezner Kerr


Department of Global Development

Director of Graduate Studies, Graduate Field of Development Studies

Department of Global Development

Director, Institute for African Development

Global Cornell

Rachel Bezner Kerr
Food And Agriculture
Headshot of Derar Lulu
Derar Lulu

Graduate Field Coordinator

Department of Global Development

Derar Lulu
  • dl987 [at] cornell.edu