Immersive, faculty-led study trips

As an engaged major, Global Development encourages students to learn from and with communities both locally and globally. In addition to the required eight-week internship and required courses designed to prepare students to engage productively with communities and make sense of their experiences, Global Development offers immersive study courses led by our faculty. 

Fall-Winter course format

GDEV 3500/5500 Development in Action: Fall Faculty-Led Study Trip Preparation

  • 0.5 credits of classroom instruction 
  • Occurs in the second seven weeks of the Fall semester as a one-hour class that meets weekly 


GDEV 3501/5501 Development in Action: Winter Faculty-Led Study Trip counts

  • 2.5 credits of field-based practicum
  • Occurs in January over Winter break with at least 62.5 practicum hours, which will be structured as an immersive, on-site learning experience over 8-14 days at an off-campus site 

Spring course format

GDEV 3502/5502 Development in Action: Spring Break Faculty-Led Study Trip

  • 1.5 credits of classroom instruction to occur through the entire Spring semester as a 75-minute class that meets weekly
  • 1.5 credits of field-based practicum to occur over Spring break with at least 37.5 practicum hours, which will be structured as an immersive, on-site learning experience over 7 days at an off-campus site

Credit as a GDEV major

All faculty-led study trips will count toward elective requirements in the Global Development major concentrations.

Current course offerings

Culture, Communities & Development: From Upstate NY to Quito, Ecuador

Taught by Julie Ficarrra and Sofia Villenas

Developed in partnership with Universidad San Francisco de Quito, this course invites students to explore the complexities of culture and community and their impact on the practice of development, with students and faculty from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and community partners in Upstate New York and Quito, Ecuador. Together, we will apply theories of cultural change, intercultural communication, and community empowerment to the geographic contexts of Upstate New York and Quito, Ecuador. USFQ student and faculty collaborators will come to Cornell for in-person collaborative work and will learn from and with community partners off-campus in both Ithaca and Buffalo. We will then all travel together (USFQ and Cornell students) from Syracuse to Quito, to continue our collaborative learning.

In Quito, Cornell students will learn about community-based development in the areas of: poverty alleviation, food security, education, and elder inclusion from USFQ faculty and community experts. They’ll then spend time with community-based organizations that address these development challenges in and around Quito. Cornell students will return to NY and the remainder of the course will be focused on critical reflection of the community-based global learning experience and a final collaborative solution-focused project with our Ecuadorian partners.    

Social Inequalities in Africa 

Taught by Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue 

This course will explore the manifestations, depth, and reproduction of inequality in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is becoming a global epicenter of inequality. Throughout the course and fieldwork in Cameroon, the students will examine the myriad of manifestations of inequality across various institutions across an individual’s life course, from cradle to grave. It will cover access to maternal health care (at birth), adequate nutrition (in early childhood), schooling and extracurricular cultivation (in childhood and adolescence), employment and adequate housing (in adulthood) and social security (in old-age). For each of these outcomes, students will visit and contrast people and institutions at both extremes of the distribution. More importantly, they will analyze the importance of discrete life experiences and various institutions in maintaining and reproducing inequality.  The field experience will be facilitated by IFORD and PICHNET.


Agroecology: Theory and Practice

Taught by Rachel Bezner Kerr

Agroecology is a holistic approach to food systems that applies social and ecological principles and adapts to the local agroecosystem and cultural context. Students will be hosted by the non-profit, farmer-led organization Soils, Food and Healthy Communities organization (SFHC), who has long-term experience carrying out participatory research and training on agroecology, alongside gender, nutrition and climate change adaptation. Most of the time the students will stay at the SFHC Farmer Research and Training Centre, in northern Malawi. They will learn and collaborate with local farmers, communities, students and researchers to learn about agroecology in practice, including farmer experimentation, indigenous knowledge, and gender issues in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Activities will include visiting a community seed bank, participating in implementing agroecological practices alongside farmers, helping to cook local recipes as part of community recipe days, attending agroecological farmers’ markets, and meeting with policy-makers, extension workers and academics involved in agroecology. They will, in conjunction with Malawian collaborators, reflect on their own relationships with food systems, and consider how agriculture and food systems can support food security, nutrition, rural livelihoods, community and ecosystem health.

Agents of Change

Taught by Scott Peters

This class is designed to support the growth and development of students as agents of change. It’s centered on the study of community organizing and development, a multidimensional craft with many situational and cultural variations. We’ll explore different theories, models, and practices of community organizing from many cultures and contexts through a mix of readings, discussions, skills-based workshops, guest speakers, and a week-long engaged learning field trip to Uruguay. The trip will include hands-on work with community partners and students from the Universidad de la República during Cornell’s spring break. Students from Cornell and the Universidad de la República will co-design the engaged learning experiences in collaboration with community partners. As we move through the semester, we’ll pose and answer two key questions that relate to the work of being an effective agent of change: What do we need to know? What do we need to know how to do? We’ll take these and other questions up together, using tools and processes from many disciplines and fields. In doing so we’ll join and contribute to a long history of debate about the theory and practice of democracy as a way of life.

Past course offerings

Agriculture & Food Systems of Costa Rica


This course will expose students to the organizations, labor conditions, trade policies, and gender considerations that impact value chains in Costa Rica, with a focus on specialty crop production such as flowers, pineapples, bananas, and coffee.

Faculty: Marvin PrittsTerry TuckerJustine Vanden Heuvel

Learn more about this trip in the Cornell Chronicle photo essay and Instagram reel

Photos from the field

In the inaugural Development In Action course, students traveled to Costa Rica with professors Marvin Pritts, Terry Tucker, and Justine Van Heuvel. Get a glimpse of their experience here.