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.


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.


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.


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.

Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda

Agrobiodiversity Mapping: Livelihoods, Food Security & Resilience

Emily Baker studies smallholder farmers’ cultivation and understanding of agricultural biodiversity in the Rwenzori Mountains of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and western Uganda. She seeks to understand the ways that intersectional and intergenerational agrobiodiversity knowledge and agency are linked with macro drivers of social and environmental change, and how they can inform policy approaches and community decision-making for local conservation, food security, and equitable approaches to social and ecological resilience.

Timothy Ravis
Emily Hillenbrand
Camillo Stubenberg
Emily Baker

Where are they now?

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

Hilary Faxon
Holly Buck headshot
A man stands outside

Contact Us

Rachel Bezner Kerr headshot
Rachel Bezner Kerr


Department of Global Development

Director of Graduate Studies

Department of Global Development

Rachel Bezner Kerr
Food And Agriculture
Headshot of Allison Barrett
Allison Barrett

Graduate Field Coordinator

Department of Global Development

Allison Barrett