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 builds on your learning about the tenets of fair-trade learning, community engagement, and social identity as they specifically 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 | 0.5 credits

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.

Your portfolio must be completed  no later than the last day of classes in the spring prior to your internship, preferably earlier, leaving ample time to complete the required portfolio review meeting by the end of exam period. Please schedule this meeting with hmm1 [at] (Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman), Engaged Learning Coordinator, once your portfolio is complete.


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 furthers their understanding of the world and their career trajectory.

First 7-week of Fall, Post-internship | 0.5 credits

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. 

Finding the right internship for you

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 and opportunities from various perspectives and to take action in different ways and on various scales. 

To assist students with identifying internships that count for the GDEV major, the department draws on the definition of development articulated in the United Nations’ Agenda for Development: “Development is a multidimensional undertaking to achieve a higher quality of life for all people. Economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development.” 

In line with our definition of development, any internship to be considered for approval as counting towards the GDEV major must, at a minimum:

  • Be or contribute to an “undertaking to achieve a higher quality of life for all people.”  The internship may focus on social, economic, or environmental well-being or a combination of them, including through one or more areas of interest studied in a students’ concentration (social and economic development; agriculture and food systems; environment and development).
  • Clearly contribute to a student’s achievement of two or more of the GDEV major learning outcomes: 
    • Describe, critique and debate competing global development paradigms, and craft and defend a personal philosophy of development. 
    • Apply systems perspectives to analyses of current and future development problems, and to draw upon multiple disciplines for supporting evidence
    • Demonstrate proficiency in research design and data collection OR analyzing and synthesizing quantitative, qualitative or geospatial data using at least one type of analytical method to reach defensible conclusions to inform science, policy, program design or practice. 
    • Develop and apply professional and technical skills in the context of development research, practice and policy.
    • Communicate to diverse audiences how their engaged experiences inform and enrich their understanding of research, practice or policy. 
    • Exhibit attitudes of openness, humility and respect in interactions with others, including those who hold different perspectives and worldviews, or who differ along lines of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual identity, socioeconomic class or political or religious affiliation.

Importantly, it is up to a student to make a case for how their internship both contributes to “a higher quality of life for all individuals” (in a particular local, regional national or global context) and how it contributes to their achievement of at least two GDEV major learning outcomes. 

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.

Identifying a Global Development internship

Hasta plant

Cornell Administered International and Domestic Internship Programs

Cornell-administered internship opportunities are offered through programs, offices and departments within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and across the university. They have been vetted by the university, are considered Cornell Travel, and may have a development focus. Global Development students frequently pursue internships through the following Cornell-administered programs: CALS Global Fellows, the Einaudi CenterCornell in WashingtonLund Fellows, and Laidlaw Fellows

**Several of these internships are typically competitive, meaning they have a limited number of spots and cannot accept all students who apply. It is important to apply early and be proactive in the application process (e.g. attend information sessions, observe deadlines, meet with program staff and ask questions, etc.).

Student Identified Opportunities

Student identified opportunities are those that students discover on their own or through Cornell resources such as GDEV or CALS Student Services newsletters. In order to determine whether a “student identified” internship meets the Global Development major internship requirement, students must complete the GDEV Internship Registration form in the Internship Pre-departure Portfolio and meet with the Engaged Learning Coordinator as soon as possible.  

Please note:  “Student identified” internships are typically limited to domestic contexts (i.e. internships in the U.S. for students from the U.S. or internships in the home countries of international students or who hold dual citizenships.) 

Internship database

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 in Module 3 of the GDEV Internship Launchpad in Canvas.

Engaged Learning Coordinator

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