Courses of Study 2023-2024 
    Feb 22, 2024  
Courses of Study 2023-2024

Global Development

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .


Course Offerings in Global Development  


The Global Development (GDEV) undergraduate major responds to the need for innovative and critical thinking on the concept and practice of development. It prepares students to interpret problems, clarify solutions, develop leadership and foster positive social change. Students receive comprehensive training in the key ideas, issues, and debates central to global development. All GDEV students take a breadth of interdisciplinary coursework in development scholarship and practice and gain depth in a concentration of their choice, selecting from social and economic development, agriculture and food systems or environment and development.

As a Global Development major, students are required to spend at least eight weeks in a field-based internship. In their field experience, students work with and learn from innovative development practitioners and community leaders, crafting cutting-edge strategies to address some of the world’s most significant challenges and advance the well-being of people and the planet.



R. Bezner Kerr, R. Cahoon, M.J. Dudley, R. Dudley, P. Eloundou-Enyegue, D. Fei, J. Ficarra, S. Giroux, J. Goldstein, M. Herrero Acosta, T. Hirschl, L. Leonard, C. Liao, E. Mabaya, F. Makki, R. Nelson, J. Perry, S. Peters, A. Raymer, R. Scott, J. Sipple, T. Tucker, L. Van De Valk, M. Warner, W. Wolford, J. Zinda.


The Major (B.S.)

Declaring the Major: 

The Global Development major will be welcoming its inaugural class of first-year students in the Fall of 2022.

Current Cornell students who are interested in transferring to the Global Development major must meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum cumulative Cornell GPA of 3.0
  • Completion of GDEV: Intro to Global Development, PLSCI 1300: Just Food, and GDEV 1105: Global Development Cornerstone completed before transfer with an average grade of a B+ or better in 1102 and 1300, and a “S” in the Cornerstone (note: the three courses are only offered in the fall semester).

To apply to join the major and be assigned a major advisor, students should contact the Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Lynn Morris (

Requirements for the Major:

In addition to the requirements for the Major, students must also complete the General Requirements for CALS (see Graduation Requirements for Bachelor of Science).  All majors must complete the: 1) Global Development Core requirements; 2) Engaged Learning Requirements, and 3) the requirements of the thematic concentration of their choice.

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.

  1. GDEV 1102 - Introduction to Global Development  (3 credits; fall first year)
  2. GDEV 1105 - Global Development Cornerstone  (2 credits; fall first year)
  3. PLSCI 1300 - Just Food: Exploring the Modern Food System   (4 credits; fall first year)
  4. 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 the requirement.)
  5. GDEV 4961 - Perspectives in Global Development  (1 credit, fall or spring)
  6. GDEV 2130 - Introduction to Social Science Research Methods  (3 credits; spring second year)
  7. GDEV 2305 - Planning for Change  (3 credits; fall second year)
Engaged Learning Requirements

3 courses, 1 field-based “learning experience”: 4 credits

Experiential and engaged learning is a defining feature of the Global Development undergraduate major, reflecting the overall vision of the Department of Global Development as a unit that unites scholarship and practice in pursuit of a better world for all. Thus, all students must complete a minimum 8-week field-based learning experience that develops their skills as a development practitioner. In this field experience, students work with and learn from innovative development practitioners, community leaders, and researchers, crafting cutting-edge strategies to address some of the world’s most significant challenges and advance the well-being of people and the planet. Students take a set of pre-and post-engagement courses that help them prepare for and build upon their engaged learning experiences. 

  1. GDEV 2105 - Critical Global Citizenship: Preparing for Ethical Engagement  (2 credits; spring second year)
  2. Pre-Departure Portfolio, designed to help students thoughtfully prepare for their specific internship (Completed in the semester before the start of one’s internship).
    1. 8-week field-based engaged learning experience: Students may choose from a range of options for their eight-week experience,CALS Global Fellowships, SIT study abroad programs, and more.
  3. GDEV 3105 - Post-Internship Course: Critical Reflection on Engaged Experiences  (1 credit; first 7-weeks of fall following the required internship experience). 
  4. 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.

Concentration Requirements

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

1. Social & Economic Development

​​​​​​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.

Required Courses for the Social & Economic Development Concentration:

All students must complete the following 2 courses

Select 5 from the following list (at least 3 should be at the 3000 level or above):

Development Theory, Policy and Ethics

Development Practice

Development Economics, Emerging Markets and Trade

Population, Migration and Health

Human/Environment Relations

2. Agriculture & Food Systems

​​​​​​ 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 Courses for the Agriculture & Food Systems Concentration

All students must complete the following 3 courses

Select 3 courses from one track and 1 course from the other track:

Plant & Agricultural Sciences Track

Social, Economic and Health Track​ 

3. Environment & Development

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 Courses for the Environment & Development Concentration

Select 2 from social science list; 2 from science list; 1 from methods list

Social Science Courses

Science Courses

Methods Courses (or others as approved by the student’s advisor)

Select 2 additional environmental science or social science courses from those listed above or from the following list

Learning Outcomes for Global Development majors:

Upon completion of the Global Development major, 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.

The Minors (Undergraduate)

The Global Development Department does NOT offer a minor in Global Development. However, our Faculty and Staff are engaged in a variety of university minors, and encourage students to consider a range of university minors. The department is closely affiliated with, and helps administer, the three minors listed below:

Community Food Systems Minor (CFS) - enables undergraduate students across the university to engage with critical contemporary issues relating to food security, food sovereignty, and food justice. In a context of diverse goals and approaches, the CFS Minor focuses on working with community partners to collaboratively understand and develop sustainable community food systems.

CFS Minor Requirements

Students must take all courses for a letter grade and achieve a final grade of “C” or better. All courses are expected to be 3 credits with the exception of the orientation to the practicum, which is a one-credit course. 

Required Courses

Elective Courses (choose 3 elective courses, at least one from each category)

Ethical and epistemic perspectives

Ecological perspectives

Agricultural perspectives

Education Minor- Cornell offers a minor in education that prepares students for a variety of post-graduate opportunities, including graduate programs in teaching and education policy as well as positions in professional development, training, outreach, extension, workplace learning and educational research. Teaching in public schools requires certification, which students can pursue at a variety of graduate and teacher-residency programs around the country. (Cornell faculty listed at can advise students on program options.) An especially convenient and strong option is the program at Ithaca College that leads to a master’s degree and New York State certification. A special agreement between Cornell and Ithaca College streamlines the application process. For information about Cornell’s education minor, as well as certification areas available under the agreement with Ithaca College, visit or programs/education.

Education Minor Requirements

Students must take all courses for a letter grade (with the exception of the capstone course that is only offered S/U) and achieve a final grade of “C” or better.

Required Courses

One course from each category below (two courses total):

Category 1: Education history, policy, philosophy

Category 2: Direct experience with learners


Elective Courses 

Take (at least) six credits of electives using two or more courses.

No more than four of these credits may be unstructured. Unstructured credits are internships (EDUC 4960), independent studies (EDUC 4970) or teaching assistantships (EDUC 4980).


In the final semester before graduation, Education minors must participate in one of two possible culminating experiences:

  • Option 1 (Conversations): Education minors may participate in a 20-minute discussion with educators from the community. Minors spend five-to-seven minutes informally summarizing their new insights on education, how they developed and how they might be applied in the future. Q&A follows.

  • Option 2 (Publications): Education minors may submit a publication that summarizes their new insights on education, how they developed and how they might be applied in the future. “Publication” is broad, including but not limited to essays, editorials, short stories and poems. 

Leadership Minor- Prepares students to become actively engaged, reflective and effective citizens with a deeper understanding of the complexities, dynamics and interdependencies of life. Students work to develop the specific professional skills many employers say college graduates lack. The Leadership Minor features integrates courses with community activities and co-curricular experiences in a guided pathway that will help you develop the skills necessary to become a true leader and engage with diverse communities.

Leadership Minor requirements

Tier 1: Leadership Essentials (1 to 3 credits, choose one)

Tier 2: Foundations in Leadership

In this course you’ll do an in-depth investigation into your personal mastery and the development of your reflective self along with a broad introduction to leadership theories, skills, and practices as they apply to interpersonal influence, conflict resolution, working in teams, leading systems change, and community engagement.

Tier 3: Leadership Electives

Minimum of 6 credits. From the list that follows, complete at least six credits of leadership-related courses that interest you.  These courses will help you to deepen your knowledge on specific topics such as organizational behavior, ethics, diversity and inclusion, negotiation, conflict resolution, decision making, sustainability, and communications, and to understand the broad contexts in which leaders operate.

If you use a Tier 3 course for your Tier 1 requirement, keep in mind you will still need to take an additional 6 credits of coursework from the list below to satisfy Tier 3.

Tier 4: Experiential Capstone (1 to 3 credits)

In Tier 4, you’ll apply the leadership and academic skills and knowledge you’ve acquired so far through a community engagement experience under the direction of a mentor. This should generally occur after you have completed the requirements for Tiers 1 through 3 but can be completed simultaneously with other Tier 3 requirements. Your experience will include establishing personal development goals, reflecting on challenges you face and feedback you receive, identifying ongoing personal development needs, and reflecting on attitudes and lessons you learned by engaging in the community. You will summarize and reflect on this experience through your ePortfolio (and enrollment in LEAD 4925 - Leadership Minor ePortfolio  following completion of your capstone).

Capstone Experience

A capstone experience is one in which you are in a position to lead a group of people to accomplish a certain goal over an extended period of time, such as a semester or over the summer. For the Leadership Minor, we ask that you participate in a capstone experience, either as part of a class or of your own design, after most of your leadership coursework is complete. Students completing the Certificate of Engaged LeadershipLinks to an external site. and Dyson FellowsLinks to an external site. program will complete a capstone experience with an ePortfolio as part of their respective programs.

Examples of appropriate roles in which you can serve in an extended leadership capacity include captain of a sports team, community volunteer, residential life leader, officer in a club, fraternity or sorority, etc. If you are not sure whether an experience you have participated in is sufficient for your capstone requirement, contact Dr. Lawrence Van De Valk, leadership minor advisor.

Tier 4 requirements include:

  • A personal statement of your learning outcomes, leadership philosophy, and principles of community engagement intended for the experience.
  • Feedback from peers and others on your performance in the experience based on that statement.
  • Your personal reflections on the lessons you’ve learned.
  • Mentorship/coaching to approve, support, and monitor the experience.
  • LEAD 4925 - Leadership Minor ePortfolio  or the equivalent, such as completing an ePortfolio in another course.

In your final semester at Cornell or when you are ready to complete the minor, you will enroll in LEAD 4925 - Leadership Minor ePortfolio  (1 credit, fall, spring). This requirement involves creating a digital portfolio–also called an ePortfolio–on the Digication platform. 

Master of Professional Studies in Global Development

A candidate for the Master of Professional Studies in Global Development degree must complete the following items to be eligible to graduate:

  • A minimum of 2 semesters of coursework, in residence, with a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester, and a total of 30 credit hours.
  • Out of the 30 credits, 20 must be in CALS; 18 must be for a letter grade; and all 30 must be in graduate-level courses 5000 and higher.
  • A maximum of 6 of the required 30 credit hours may be earned through the student’s capstone project.
  • Language courses and writing courses do not count toward the credits required for the degree.
  • A maximum of 6 credit hours earned outside the program at Cornell University or elsewhere may be counted toward the 30 credit hours requirement at the discretion of the faculty advisor. These credits must be appropriate to the subject of the chosen field of study and completed not more than 5 years prior to admission.
  • Satisfactory completion of a capstone project paper under the supervision of the faculty advisor. This paper may be the execution of an action program, the development of materials or methodology suited to the student’s situation, or development and execution of research appropriate to the profession.
  • Hold a minimum grade point average of 2.5.
  • Complete the degree within 4 years of admission.

Ph.D. in Development Studies Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Development Studies (previously known as Development Sociology) is administered by the Development Studies Field, but connected to the Global Development Department. This training integrates diverse frameworks and methodologies with classical sociological theory to fuel investigation, analysis, and evaluation of social phenomenon. Our graduate students are at the frontlines of developing solutions to pressing issues — from agriculture and food systems to gender, economics and demographics — on the local and global scale. 

Whether through ethnographies, statistical analyses, or participatory action research, our students are trained to produce the highest quality social science research in areas including:

  • Inequality across health, class, and gender
  • Impacts of social policy including health and education
  • Governance, community development, and civic organization
  • Food systems, food sovereignty, and sustainable agriculture 
  • Migration and demographic change
  • Political ecololgy and land use change

Graduate (PhD) fields at Cornell, including Development Studies, have no mandatory course work requirements nor credit hours to be earned, and courses can be taken within any school or department at Cornell. However, the Field of Development Studies has a set of four core courses which are highly recommended to all students. They should be completed within the first year for all Ph.D. students and include:

The following course should be completed every semester while in the Ph.D. program:

More details about the Ph.D. in Development Studies can be found on the Development Studies Ph.D. website.