2010-2011 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 18, 2024  
2010-2011 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

International Development and Social Change, MA

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Graduate Program

The Master of Arts degree in International Development and Social Change (IDSC) emphasizes the connection between critical thinking and effective action. It is designed for scholars of international development, as well as for present and future practitioners of grassroots, community-based development.

Offering alternatives to centralized planning and implementation, the IDSC/MA program has been a pioneer in participatory development and a leading force in creating tools for social change. The challenge for the 21st-century is to promote just and equitable development and sustain environmental resources through critical thought, local planning and action. The IDCE Department and the IDSC Program stress participatory approaches that foster alliances and partnerships between local institutions and broader entities such as external development agencies, universities, and state and non-governmental organizations.

This master’s program helps students conceptualize innovative approaches to development problems by building an understanding of the complex causes, influences and implications of poverty, social injustice and conflict. Rooted in the belief that effective approaches merge many disciplines, the IDSC/MA employs a cross-disciplinary focus, with faculty from anthropology, economics, environmental sciences, women’s studies, geography, history, government, and management. Links with collaborating institutions in countries such as Kenya, Nepal, Ghana, India, Senegal, and Mexico provide important real-world perspectives and field work opportunities.

The IDSC/MA Program has three key elements:

  1. Challenging conventional ideas about development and seeking innovative alternatives,
  2. Understanding how the interplay of power relationships gives rise to social injustice and inequity, and
  3. Exploring the linkages between critical thinking and effective development practices at the community, regional, national, and global levels.

Visit www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/academicsGradID.cfm on the IDCE Web site for more information about the IDSC program.

Visiting Faculty

Marianne Sarkis, Ph.D.


Local Partnerships: Putting Theory into Action

The collaborative research projects of IDCE graduate students and faculty reflect their interdisciplinary approach to issues of environment and development. Many projects build upon partnerships between IDCE and community or governmental organizations around the United States and the globe, including in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Somalia, Ghana, India and Senegal.

Locally, environmental and community groups often invite IDCE to undertake key community building projects, as well as data gathering and analysis. This allows IDCE faculty and students to put theory into practice right in the neighborhood. By helping to facilitate participatory sessions and building collaborations, students see Worcester neighbors taking action, setting priorities, and maximizing into their human capital and governmental resources. Students hone their analytical skills through GIS mapping of land parcels for development or preservation and through monitoring water quality.

For more information about current Research Activities going on at IDCE, visit www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/researchActivities.cfm.

Program Requirements

IDSC Course of Study

The master’s degree in International Development and Social Change requires a minimum of 12 graduate course units. These include five required core courses, including a final MA project, two skills courses, and five elective courses to form the student’s field of specialization.

Through action-oriented, critical studies linking theory and practice, this master’s program offers opportunities to specialize in such topics as political economy, conflict and development, education and development, health and development, culture and development, resource management, community-based development, gender and development, and more.

Required Core Courses

  • provides a critical overview of classical and contemporary theories of development across many disciplines. Encourages thinking historically, politically and analytically about the multiplicity of development processes and the complex relations of power that underlie them.
  • develops skills in needs assessment, project design, implementation, management, budgeting, scheduling, work plans, and monitoring/evaluation.

One Graduate-level Economics Course, such as:

IDSC Elective Courses to form an area of specialization* (a sampling, 5 required)

Students select electives to focus their research, deepen their understanding of, and develop an area of specialization in one of the following areas: conflict and development, culture and development, political economy, gender and development, resource management, community-based development, health and development, education and development, geographical information systems, and more. This list is a sampling of specializations. Students may establish one of their own choosing.

Directed Study

As part of your elective credits, you have the option of doing undertaking an internship or a directed study with any IDSC core or affiliate faculty member. Directed studies are an opportunity for students to engage in advanced level work (beyond what they learn in seminars) on issues of special interest to them. Directed studies take different form (e.g. literature review, annotated bibliography, research paper, thesis preparation, grant proposal development, etc.) depending on the interest and abilities of each student, and the degree of involvement from the faculty.

Final MA Project

All four programs within IDCE offer three options for a final MA project, which is the culminating experience of an IDCE Masters degree. In IDSC the three options are: (1) a Research Paper, (2) a Practitioner Report, or (3) a Thesis. None of the options is considered more prestigious than the others. Students choose the option that is most compatible with their research and professional interests, and then develop these interests independently through the final project.

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