Global Development and Sustainability

The Global Development and Sustainability concentration prepares graduates for challenging research, policy and planning positions that shape and evaluate global and national efforts to achieve sustainable development including reduction of poverty, income inequality, disease burden, and impacts of climate variability.

Focus of the Concentration

The Global Development and Sustainability concentration brings together interdisciplinary and multinational perspectives on problems of poverty, vulnerability and marginalization in developing countries as well as in advanced economies. Though many low- and middle-income countries are achieving rapid growth in GDP, the benefits of human development still elude large groups. Globally, over 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty with deprivations in health, employment, education, environmental resources, human rights and social equality.

This concentration examines societal and environmental influences that abet or constrain inclusive policies to promote equitable, sustainable development. Such factors include attitudes toward economic groups, race, ethnicity and indigenous and tribal identity, gender, sexual orientation and religious tradition. They also include our dependence upon the natural environment and ecosystems for our livelihoods and well-being. This dependence is more pronounced for the poor, as these are the primary resources required for their survival and livelihood security. Our work in this area is focused on linking research to effective policy and practical measures to assist local researchers in the most affected areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop resilience and sustainable livelihood options for vulnerable communities.

We study the nature and effects of modernization, state and non-state actors, development aid, global development policy frameworks and social movements on social and environmental dependency and for their potential to uproot deeply embedded discriminations that have created structural inequalities. We interact with institutions across the globe to learn the lessons of development strategies that can lead to sustained progress toward equitable and robust development.

All students in this concentration are advised by affiliated faculty and work on research projects directed by the Center for Global Development and Sustainability, an interdisciplinary and multinational applied research group that addresses issues of vulnerability in developing countries as well as in advanced economies. Its Program on Climate Change and Sustainable Livelihoods has established the Applied Knowledge and Intervention Network of national and regional climate change researchers in West and East Africa, India and Mongolia to develop resilience and sustainable livelihood options for vulnerable communities. The Program on Social Exclusion advances research and promotes global dialogue to lower the barriers to meaningful participation in economic growth that still eludes large groups within emerging economies and growing inequality in the U.S. The Program examines societal influences that abet or constrain inclusive policies including attitudes toward race, ethnicity, caste and tribal identity, gender, sexual orientation and religious tradition. Other programs work on issues of sustainable forest and marine resources, payments for environmental services, and access to education.

Required Concentration Courses

Sample Dissertations

  • Danielle Fuller-Wimbush, 2014. “The Effectiveness of US Development Aid in Supporting Agriculture and Food Security in Haiti: A Case Study of USAID’s Haiti Feed the Future West/WINNER Project.”