Advancing equitable and sustainable solutions to global challenges

Global problems are becoming more interconnected. The Global Development major curriculum is a response to the complexification of the concept and practice of development. The major prepares students to interpret problems, clarify solutions, develop leadership and foster positive social change. Students in the Global Development major receive comprehensive training in the key ideas, issues and debates central to global development.

Global Development Core Requirements

7 courses; 19 credits

These core courses ensure that students can demonstrate a broad introductory knowledge in the major disciplines involved in global development. They enable students to interpret a comprehensive multi-disciplinary set of issues related to socio-economic development, agriculture & food systems, and environmental sustainability in developing countries.

  • GDEV/DSOC/IARD 1102: Introduction to Global Development (3 credits; Fall first year)

  • GDEV/DSOC/IARD 1105: Global Development Cornerstone (2 credits; Fall first year)

  • PLSCI 1300: Just Food (4 credits; Fall first year)

  • GDEV 2065: Environment and Development (3 credits; Spring first year. Note: incoming students in 2023 will take this Fall first year; Students who have already taken NTRES 2010 Environmental Conservation can use that course for this requirement)

  • GDEV 4961 Perspectives in Global Development (1 credit; Fall and Spring; previously IARD 6960)

  • GDEV 2130 Introduction to Social Science Research Methods (3 credits; Spring second year; previously DSOC 3130)

  • GDEV/DSOC/IARD 2305: Planning for Change (3 credits; Fall second year; previously GDEV/DSOC/IARD 3305)

Engaged Learning Requirements

3 courses, 1 internship

  • GDEV 2105: Preparing for Ethical Engagement (2 credits; Spring second year)
  • Pre-departure Portfolio, designed to help students thoughtfully prepare for their specific internship (Completed in the semester before the start of one’s internship)
  • 8-week field-based internship: Students may choose from a range of options for their eight-week experience, including independent internships, Cornell internship programs, study abroad programs that include an internship experience as part of their curriculum, and more
  • GDEV 3105: Post-Internship: Critical Reflection on Engaged Experiences (1 credit; first 7-weeks of Fall following the required internship experience)
  • GDEV 3106: Professional Preparation for Global Development (1 credit; second 7-weeks of Fall following the required internship experience)

Read the full Engaged Learning Requirements and guidelines on how to identify and select your learning experience.

Thematic concentration requirements

To gain more depth in a particular aspect of development, all Global Development majors choose to affiliate with one thematic concentration and take an additional 24-26 credits of coursework within that concentration.

​​​​​​The Social and Economic Development Concentration provides students an opportunity to explore global development issues, theories, policies, and practices in greater depth using the theories, approaches, and analytical frameworks of multiple social science disciplines. Students can develop individualized pathways through the concentration in consultation with their academic advisors. In addition, this concentration provides students planning to pursue graduate study in economics or sociology an opportunity to take advanced undergraduate coursework in those disciplines. The pathway for students planning graduate study in economics requires the four foundational courses coded with an (e). An additional four courses in economics are required for the economics pathway. For this pathway, advanced mathematics is highly recommended.

Required and Elective Courses

See the GDEV Advising Checklist for all Social and Economic Development concentration requirements.

​​​​​​This concentration is built on an integrative systems perspective that melds the biophysical, socio-economic, and nutritional sciences towards the sustainable development of inclusive agriculture and food systems. Students will learn about how food is produced, significant trends and drivers of change, and how to assess systems from an interdisciplinary perspective across cultural contexts. Critical contemporary debates about the future of food systems, such as sustainability, social justice, and resilience, will be examined from various perspectives. Students will also gain foundational skills in agriculture and food systems, including analytics for decision-making, monitoring and evaluation, and project management. This major is designed to support a range of career paths, including development practice, food policy, agricultural extension, and academia.

Required and Elective Courses

See the GDEV Advising Checklist for all Ag and Food Systems concentration requirements.

​​​​​​Students in this concentration will build their capacity to analyze how development affects the environment and how the environment shapes development. Through a range of courses, students will explore how society makes difficult choices concerning the control, use, and long-term management of land, freshwater, and marine resources. In engaging with these ethically complex and politically laden issues, students also examine how these topics are inextricably intertwined with issues of global food security and health, culture and identity, livelihood security, and intergenerational environmental justice.

Required and Elective Courses

See the GDEV Advising Checklist for all Environment & Development concentration requirements.

Learning Outcomes

The following learning outcomes are general learning outcomes for the Global Development major. By the completion of the program, students will be able to:

  1. Describe, critique and debate competing global development paradigms, and craft and defend a personal philosophy of development.
  2. Demonstrate an ability to apply systems perspectives to analyses of current and future development problems, and to draw upon multiple disciplines for supporting evidence.
  3. Exhibit basic skills appropriate to development practice, including group facilitation, team building, multi-stakeholder problem assessment and priority setting, and participatory learning and action.
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in applying at least one research or program evaluation approach (quantitative, qualitative, participatory learning and action, etc.) in a real-world situation.
  5. Propose, plan, secure and carry out an approved summer or semester-long internship or professional practice activity. As part of that experience, demonstrate skill in reflective writing and cross-cultural communication.
  6. Exhibit attitudes of tolerance, humility and respect in interactions with others, including those who hold different perspectives and world views, or who differ along lines of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual identity, socioeconomic class or political or religious affiliation.


  • All required GDEV core and concentration courses must be taken for a letter grade (except for 1105, 1104, 3104, and 3105, which are currently only offered S/U) unless there are extenuating circumstances to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 
  • To receive credit for the required GDEV core and concentration elective courses, a student must receive a grade of C or higher unless there are extenuating circumstances to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

Questions? We're here to help!

Aubryn Sidle headshot
Aubryn Sidle

Lecturer and Research Associate

Department of Global Development

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Department of Global Development

Aubryn Sidle
  • as286 [at]
Gender & development
International education
Evaluation research
Lynn Morris headshot
Lynn Morris

Undergraduate Program Coordinator

Department of Global Development

Lynn Morris