Global Development: An engaged major

Engaged teaching and learning is a central pillar of the Global Development undergraduate program. As a student in the department, you will have numerous opportunities for engaged and experiential learning from your first year on campus, through to graduation. 

Required courses

In order to help guide your engaged learning journey, a three-course series is required of all Global Development majors.

DSOC/IARD 1104: Global Development Internship Pre-Departure Course: Unit I: Preparing for Engagement

This course introduces you to the tenets of engaged learning, community, and identity as they relate to training in the field of global development. It culminates with each student developing a plan for incorporating both breadth and depth of engaged opportunities in a four-year academic plan.

Spring of First Year | 1 credit

DSOC/IARD 3104: Global Development Internship Pre-Departure Course: Unit II: Preparing for Your Internship

This course, taken the semester before the required internship experience, helps students prepare to apply classroom knowledge in an internship setting, and embrace ethical forms of engagement with community partners.

Pre-internship | 1 credit


DSOC/IARD 3105: Post engagement course: Reflections on the Field

This course, taken the semester directly following the required internship experience, guides students through a process of reflection-on-action, considering how global development training informed their internship placement, and how that professional experience informs a worldview and career trajectory.

Post-internship | 1-credit

Internship requirement

Students will apply their classroom-based learning to address a global development challenge or opportunity in a particular geographic and cultural context (in the U.S. or internationally) through an experience of at least 8 weeks in duration. To fulfill this requirement, the internship experience must:

  • Draw from academic preparation in an area of relevance to global development.
  • Be focused on addressing development challenges or opportunities.
  • Be hosted by an organization with a development-focused mission or development-focused projects, and the organizational capacity to support (i.e., provide guidance and oversight of) an intern.
  • Have a clearly articulated scope of substantive work (position description) agreed upon by both the student, their on-site supervisor, and the Department of Global Development. 

Internship approval process

Students may choose to engage in a full-time internship during the summer term (of at least 8 weeks in duration) or a more longitudinal internship experience over the course of a semester on a part-time basis.

You will work with your Engaged Learning team (Julie Ficarra and Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman to determine deadlines for the following steps: 

  1. Learn about how to search for internships in DSOC/IARD 1104: Pre-engagement course I: Ethical Issues for Engagement
  2. Research options and apply for internship(s) and/or programs containing an internship (ex. semester-long study abroad)
  3. Draft and submit the Internship Proposal Form
  4. Enroll in DSOC/IARD 3104: Pre-engagement course II: Logistics & Preparation for Fieldwork
  5. Submit Internship Registration Form (completed as part of Logistics & Preparation for Fieldwork)
  6. Enroll in DSOC/IARD 3105: Post engagement course: Reflections on the Field

Discussed in-depth during DSOC/IARD 1104: Pre-engagement course I: Ethical Issues for Engagement in the first year, and then again at subsequent information sessions each semester, this proposal requires students to document their intention to complete their required internship in a given term, and to articulate their plan for completing the required internship. Students identify which internship(s) they have (or plan to apply for), whether it is a GDEV Network Internship, a Cornell pre-approved internship, or an independent internship (one students have found on their own). The proposal also requires students to identify from which academic content area(s) the work draws, which concentration area is most relevant, and which global development issue(s) the work addresses. 

Once an internship placement has been confirmed, students register their internship experience using the Salesforce platform. Students need to provide information on their internship site, supervisor, scope of work, and attestations of their understanding of Cornell academic and travel-related policies and procedures.

Identifying a Global Development internship

Interdisciplinary by design, the Global Development program draws on several different academic disciplines and approaches to address the world’s most pressing issues. Likewise, it takes all types of organizations and actors to understand development challenges from various perspectives and to take action in different ways and on various scales. In DSOC/IARD 1104: Pre-engagement course I: Ethical Issues for Engagement, required of all students in the Spring of their first year, organizational and industry types are discussed and how various learning goals might be achieved through various kinds of internships. Students might think about organizing their internship search by location - if they have a strong regional or linguistic background or interest, or by a development challenge - example: poverty alleviation, food justice, or sustainability.

Cornell Global Development maintains a database of development-oriented internships, organized by location, organizational type, development challenge, major concentration area, and affiliation type.

There are generally three internship ‘affiliation types’ - this refers to the ways in which the internship opportunity or organization is connected to Cornell and/or Cornell Global Development. 

Hasta plant

Cornell-sponsored internships

These internship opportunities are administered through programs, offices and departments across the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as the university. They have been vetted by the university, are considered Cornell Travel, and may (or may not) have a development focus.

Department network internships

These internships are standing opportunities available each summer that are hosted by organizations with an affiliation to the GDEV department through faculty, staff, graduate students, Humphrey Fellows, or alumni. They are vetted by the department, are considered Cornell Travel, and always have a development focus. Contact our engaged learning team for the latest opportunities. 

Student identified opportunities

In some instances, students independently identify an organization or project of interest. In order to determine whether the internship meets the department’s requirement, students must submit the Internship Proposal Form by February 1. The department will inform the student of the outcome of the evaluation by February 15. 

Got questions? Contact our Engaged Learning team.

Julie Ficarra
Julie Ficarra

Associate Professor of the Practice

Department of Global Development

Julie Ficarra
  • jmf389 [at]
International Education & Engaged Learning
Partnership Development
Critical Pedagogy
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman headshot
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman

Senior Extension Associate

Department of Global Development

Education Minor Coordinator

Department of Global Development

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