Your journey to make the world a better place starts here

At Global Development, we don’t sit still. Here our students engage with real-world issues at home and abroad to deliver lasting social benefit to all. We connect science to the needs of people to improve lives, reduce inequality, protect the environment, and actually change the world for the better.

Major in Global Development

The Global Development major responds to the need for innovative and critical thinking on the concept and practice of development. It prepares students to interpret problems, clarify solutions, develop leadership and foster positive social change. Students receive comprehensive training in the key ideas, issues, and debates central to global development. All students take a breadth of interdisciplinary coursework in development scholarship and practice and gain depth in a concentration of their choice, selecting from social and economic development, agriculture and food systems or environment and development.

More Undergraduate Majors and Minors

a close up of a palm leaf

Community Food Systems


  • In Community Food Systems, you'll learn to engage with critical contemporary issues relating to food security, food sovereignty, and food justice. This minor integrates interdisciplinary course work with community-based learning and research opportunities that together help students contribute to more sustainable and equitable food systems.  
  • Learn more about the Community Food Systems minor.



  • Prepare for a career in teaching and lifelong learning by taking courses in education while at Cornell. This minor will not only prepare you for the classroom, but also for engaged learning at any stage in life.
  • Learn more about the minor in Education.



  • Identify and grow your strengths with Cornell's Leadership minor, which is available to all students across the university. The minor empowers students to be more actively engaged, reflective and effective citizens with a deeper understanding of the complexities, dynamics and interdependencies of life. 
  • Learn more about the Leadership minor

Development Sociology


  • The Development Sociology major welcomed its final class of first-year students in the Fall of 2021. We accepted sophomore transfers through the Spring of 2022 and will be accepting junior transfers through the Fall of 2022. We encourage students interested in this program to explore the new Global Development major.
  • Development sociology is about understanding how society works in order to better tackle poverty and improve the health, income, education, and well-being of people. It's purpose-driven and community-focused: we like our work to have real world impact, and we like to work with people and communities directly. Our curriculum will provide you the skills and training to diagnose, understand, and contribute to solutions in issue areas like food security, sustainable development, and climate change adaptation. 
  • Learn more about the Development Sociology major.

International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD)


  • The International Agriculture and Rural Development major welcomed its final class of first-year students in the Fall of 2021. We encourage students interested in this program to explore the new Global Development major.
  • Our IARD major is designed for students who are interested in tackling the unique and interdisciplinary issues associated with food systems and rural development in emerging nations. You’ll have the opportunity to gain meaningful experience, hands-on by participating in projects and research all over the world. Our students prepare to make a real world impact on rural communities across the globe with concentrations in economics and development, agricultural and food systems, or environment and ecosystems.
  • Learn more about the IARD major.

Faculty-led study trips

Undergraduate Research Spotlight

Youth engagement

Kate McHale '24

Kate McHale ’24 is on a mission to increase youth engagement specifically as it relates to nutrition. As an eight-year alumna and current student leader of 4-H, Kate advocates for youth’s voices in national policy. Throughout her time at Cornell, Kate has led high school students to research and present their findings to state and federal government bodies.

Environmental Sociology

A Different Angle: A Story of Environmental Disasters

A series of articles produced by Professor Zinda's Environmental Sociology course look at an environment, its people and the traditional natural environment, to examine the disaster’s connection to the sociological framework.

By juxtaposing real experiences and theory, they hope to use the sociological perspective to illuminate the full impact of a disaster.

Food systems

Sammi Lin '24 named Cargill Global Scholar

Sammi is on a mission to promote inclusivity and sustainability in food systems with local communities in New York and across the Americas. Locally, Sammi has engaged with food security challenges as an intern and researcher with Cornell Cooperative Extension, and globally explored issues of food and nutritional security as an intern with Terra Genesis and PROAmazonía in Ecuador. 

Social Justice

Christina Ochoa '23 earns national award for addressing social change

Christina earned the Newman Civic Fellowship for her efforts to transform systemic injustice in prisons and parole policies. Ochoa advocates for incarcerated people serving life sentences in New York state through the Cornell University Parole Initiative.

Health and development

Nasra Ismail '22: At the intersection of health, human rights & development

Nasra is committed to developing critical health solutions for underserved communities globally. As an intern with the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office of the World Health Organization, Nasra worked directly with local partners to develop real-world strategies to eradicate the cholera outbreak in Yemen. 

Sustainability and social equity

How Alice Sullivan ’22 is advocating for equity in global supply chains

Guided by engaged learning experiences in Global Development, Alice Sullivan ’22 has engaged in the struggle for farmworkers’ rights in New York State and the restoration of Malaysian rainforests with indigenous place-based knowledge. As an incoming supply chain analyst for a global company, she is using her Cornell CALS education to prioritize climate justice and sustainability in the development of products used by billions.

Affordable Housing

Lorelei Meidenbauer ’22: A vision for justice in affordable housing

Lorelei's passion for affordable housing and social justice in the U.S. is helping create a flourishing world. From supporting rural schools in New York State through grant writing to biking across the country with Bike & Build, Lorelei seeks to make an impact in the classroom and in real world communities.

Local Activism

Streetology: Stories of Community Engagement Through Lived Experience

A new book published by Cornell students honors the journeys and life’s work of 13 Cornell Civic Leader Fellows, who are grassroots leaders that have played critical roles in developing resilient communities in and around Ithaca. For the past five years, undergraduate students documented the oral histories of local community leaders as part of their senior capstone course.

Woman attends hunger, nutrition and health conference.
Group gathers walnuts from trees in China
Girl works in garden
Headshot of Christina Ochoa
Nasra Ismail with a city backdrop behind her
Woman holds basket on coffee farm
Woman in bike gear on the waterfront
Cover of "Streetology" book

Where are they now?

Learn more about where a Global Development education can take you.

Ben Fields graduation
Ben Fields '20
Hannah Fuller holds produce at the grocery store on campus
Hannah Fuller '19
A headshot of Alexander King
Alexander King '15
A female in a blue shirt and blazer with brown hair and glasses standing in front of a pine tree
Connie Potter '16
Anastashia Alfred at Oracle
A woman in a red jacket smiles as she is photographed in front of water
Keelin Kelly '20

Contact Us

Headshot of Sarah Giroux
Sarah Giroux

Associate Professor of the Practice

Department of Global Development

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Department of Global Development

Sarah Giroux
Decompositional Methods
Demography of Inequality and Poverty
Empirics Of Development and Inequality
Lynn Morris headshot
Lynn Morris

Undergraduate Program Coordinator

Department of Global Development

Lynn Morris
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman headshot
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman

Engaged Learning Coordinator

Department of Global Development

Education Minor Director

Department of Global Development

Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman
Community development
Civic engagement
Engaged learning and research