2021-2022 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 20, 2024  
2021-2022 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

International Development and Social Change Major

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International Development and Social Change Overview

Undergraduate Program

In the International Development and Social Change program, students learn from faculty who are actively engaged in vital world issues, for example, post disaster reconstruction in Sri Lanka and Puerto Rico, reproductive health in Senegal, land use planning and climate change in Bolivia, and social justice and education in South Africa. The program begins by building a foundation to help students to understand and think critically about the social, political, economic and cultural dynamics shaping the world. Courses provide important insights on how the developed and developing worlds are linked historically and currently. Clark University is one of the few universities in the nation to offer a liberal-arts major in international development.

Beyond the classroom-in workshops, panels, and informal gatherings-international development and social change majors learn from faculty, as well as from undergraduate and graduate students, with field experience from around the world. Students have the opportunity to expand this knowledge with hands-on experience through internships and field research.

As a major in this program, you will be part of a diverse student body and discover a program that offers intellectual excitement, insightful perspectives and stimulating ideas. International development students explore strategic political action by developing an awareness of the complexities and contradictions of global power relations. You will learn the history of social change around the world from professors who have been involved in social change in Asia, South America and Africa. Students in this major become thinkers and doers who are prepared to tackle the challenges of development in the 21st century.

For more information, please visit the International Development and Social Change Department’s website.

Major Requirements

The IDSC major requires 13 units/courses, including five core courses, four electives (including the capstone) around a particular theme or issue in international development and social change called the specialization, one methods course, two skills courses, one internship or directed research project.

Majors should try to finish their core classes in their first two years of study. By junior year, they should be taking more advanced seminars (200 level) with core faculty in their area of interest.

IDSC majors must earn at least a C- in core and required courses to count towards the major.

Core Courses (5 courses/units)

  • ID 125 - Tales from the Far Side: Third World Development and Underdevelopment in the Age of Globalization
  • ID 120 - Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology OR ID 121 - Culture, Health and Development: What makes us sick?
  • ECON 128 - Introduction to Economic Development (Note: ECON 010 - Economics and the World Economy or an equivalent is a prerequisite for ECON 128)
  • Politics of Development (choose from a variety of electives)
  • Environmental sustainability (choose from a variety of electives) 

Area of Specialization (4 courses/units)

IDSC majors take at least four elective courses in an area of specialization. Students may follow well-established specializations that relate to international development and social change (e.g., Political Economy, Peace and Conflict, Gender, Environment & Sustainability, Education, Global Health, Participatory and Community-Based Approaches, Refugees and Forced Migration, Human Rights or Social Justice) or they may design their own area of specialization with the approval of their IDSC advisor. Two of the 4 courses in the specialization must be with IDSC core faculty and two of the 4 courses must be at the 200-level.

One of the 200 level courses must be taken in the Senior Year with a core IDSC faculty member and will serve as the ‘capstone eligible seminar’. Capstone eligible seminars are noted as such at the time of course registration.

Methods (1 Unit)

The required methods class, ID 132 - Research Methods for International Development and Social Change , is usually offered during the fall semester. This course will prepare you for independent research during study abroad, your capstone, and your honors thesis. Hence, students are strongly encouraged to take ID 132  before beginning these endeavors.

Note: ID 132  does not fulfill the Formal Analysis (FA) requirement.

Skills Courses (2 units)

IDSC majors are required to complete 2 language courses at the intermediate level (105 or above) to satisfy this requirement. Students who can demonstrate fluency in another language are exempt. Such students and other students who wish to substitute language courses with other courses (e.g. GIS, statistics, conflict negotiation, grant writing, another research methods course) should seek approval from their advisor, complete a petition and submit it his/her adviser and the IDSC Undergraduate Program Coordinator before enrolling in a substitute course. If students choose this later course of study, then the 2 non-language skill course substitutes must be taken in different departments.

Internship or Field Research (1 unit)

Students may either take:

Honors Thesis (1 course unit)

Those wishing to graduate with honors register for ID 297  with a thesis supervisor in the second semester of senior year.

*IDSC majors must earn at least a C- in core and required courses to count toward the major.


To graduate with Honors in the major and to be considered for admission into the accelerated BA/MA program in IDSC, a student must complete an original Honors Thesis on a topic of relevance to the field of international development and social change.


Majors who have maintained at least a 3.5 grade point average in IDSC major courses and a 3.25 overall grade point average (GPA) are eligible to apply for an Honors Thesis. Admission to the Honors Thesis program does not automatically guarantee the awarding of Honors. Students must first satisfy a number of requirements:

  • Identification of a faculty supervisor by March 1 of the junior year
  • Application to the IDSC Honors Committee second week of April in the junior year
  • Presentation of a chapter and detailed outline of the entire thesis to the thesis supervisor at the end of fall semester of senior year
  • Completion of the thesis during the spring semester of the senior year, with the approval of the thesis supervisor
  • Oral defense of the completed thesis before the first and second (of which one must a core IDSC faculty member) during mid-spring semester.
  • Presentation of the thesis at Academic Spree Day

The IDSC Undergraduate Coordinator and the IDSC Accelerated BA/MA Coordinator oversee the Honors program in consultation with the IDSC program faculty. Their roles are to evaluate applications to the program, coordinate procedures, and serve as a source of information to students and faculty participating in the program.

For further information on procedures and dates, please see the IDSC undergraduate handbook at: http://www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/id/ba/

The Double Major

Many students double major or major in IDSC and minor in related departments, such as Economics, Geography, Government (especially international relations), Sociology, and Women’s Studies. Up to two courses can be counted toward both majors.

International Development and Social Change Internships

Internships provide an opportunity to gain insight and experience in development through work in government or nonprofit agencies. Recently, students have had overseas internships with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the American Jewish World Service in El Salvador, the London Internship Program, and the World Health Organization in Geneva. Other interns have worked in the United States on national and international development issues with the Environmental Defense Fund, Grassroots International, Oxfam America, Habitat for Humanity, MassPIRG, Save the Children, Aid to Artisans, and Lutheran Community Services Refugee Program.

All International Development majors must undertake an internship for academic credit. Internships for credit must be supervised or sponsored by core ID faculty or affiliate IDCE faculty with the approval of your faculty adviser. You should register for ID 299 the semester during the internship to receive credit. If your internship is during the summer, you should register through the School of Professional Studies.

Study Abroad

Many international development students have learned about development issues first-hand through Study Abroad programs, such as those in Namibia, Vietnam, Thailand, Morocco, Costa Rica, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. Students have also studied abroad on related programs at the London School of Economics, Seville, Spain and Italy.  Please contact the Study Abroad office at Clark for information on study-abroad options. You should discuss your study-abroad plans in advance with your major adviser to maximize your learning experience. For more information, visit www.clarku.edu/offices/studyabroad/.

International Development and Social Change Faculty


David Bell, Ed.D.,

Ramón Borges-Méndez Ph.DNigel Brissett, Ph.D.

Cynthia Caron, Ph. D.

Ed Carr, Ph. D.

Anita Häusermann Fábos, Ph. D.

Jude Fernando, Ph. D.

Ellen Foley, Ph. D.

Denise Humphries Bebbington

Ken MacLean, Ph. D.

Laurie Ross, Ph. D.

International Development and Social Change Courses

Courses offered within the last 2 Academic Years


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