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

To help guide your engaged learning journey, the following is required of all Global Development majors.

GDEV 2105: Preparing for Ethical Engagement

This course introduces you to the tenets of fair-trade learning, community engagement, and social identity as they relate to training in the field of global development. It culminates with each student working towards completion of their pre-departure portfolio ahead of their required internship experience. 

Spring of Second Year | 1 credit

Pre-departure Portfolio

Students demonstrate they have thoughtfully prepared for their internship through the completion of a Pre-Departure Portfolio. Among other things, the portfolio consists of a set of exercises to be completed by students that are designed to help them 1) ensure they and their host have a shared understanding of internship expectations, 2) identify learning goals, and 3) give due consideration to supporting their health and safety during their internship.



GDEV 3105: Post-Internship: Critical Reflection on Engaged Experiences

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.

First 7-week of Fall, Post-internship | 1 credit

GDEV 3106: Professional Preparation in Global Development

This course extends students learning from GDEV 3105 by examining how the Global Development sector is arranged by organization and functional work type. Students learn how the work of NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, foundations, and community-based organizations contribute to development and how to represent themselves on digital platforms and in the job application process in ways that are professionally appropriate to the development sector. 

Second 7-weeks of Fall, 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 Global Development major courses (core or electives).
  • 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. 

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 GDEV 2105: Preparing for Ethical Engagement, required of all students in the Spring of their second 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 that students might consider to meet the internship requirement: Currently enrolled students may view the database on the GDEV Engaged Learning Center in Canvas.

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. 

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Cornell-sponsored internships

Cornell-sponsored 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. The most popular Cornell-sponsored internships for Global Development students include: the CALS Global Fellows Program, the Einaudi Center Summer Internships, and the Laidlaw Fellowship Program.

Department network internships

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 should meet with a member of the Engaged Learning team as early as possible. 

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. 

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

Director, Education Minor

Department of Global Development

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