2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
    Mar 29, 2023  
2022-2023 Academic 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, reproductive health in Senegal, land use planning, gender, and climate change in Bolivia, strategies that displaced families use to make ‘home’ in new places, youth empowerment in Worcester, and educational policy in the Caribbean. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of tackling the world’s most pressing problems, the academic 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 into how countries around the world are connected to one another both 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, international development and social change majors learn about the research and field experience of faculty and their undergraduate and graduate student peers through workshops, panels, and informal gatherings. Students are required to build on and expand their knowledge with hands-on experience through either an internship or applied 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 with a focus on thoughtful and purposeful action. International development students explore strategic political action by developing an awareness of the complexities and contradictions of global power relations. 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 department website.

Major Requirements

Below you will find the requirements to complete the International Development and Social Change (IDSC) major at Clark University. The major requires 12 credit units, divided into three categories. The first category comprises foundation courses. The six foundation courses provide you with an overview of IDSC, which is an interdisciplinary major. These courses introduce you to the history of international development, the often-contested nature of what constitutes ‘development’, and the actors, agencies, social groups, and institutions that catalyze, influence, and change development pathways at various levels: village, city, regional, national, or global. Thinking about social change as a process that occurs across multiple levels will help you identify what development means to you and where you want to engage and learn with and from others.

The IDSC major’s second category is community engagement and effective and ethical practice. You’ll learn about and develop skills through a required internship or applied research project and your choice of another research methods, intermediate language competency, or a Problems of Practice (POP) course.

The IDSC major’s third category is a specialization of your choice. The specialization allows you to focus on one topical area across a range of substantive issues addressed in the field of development. Some topical areas include but are not limited to: health equity and reproductive rights, peace building, agriculture and food security, education and youth, gender equity, environmental sustainability, climate change, human rights and justice, and displacement and forced migration.

Majors should try to finish their foundational classes in their first two years of study. At the end of the second year, they should be taking more advanced-level seminars (200-level classes) 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.

Foundation Courses (6 courses/units)

1. ID 125 Tales from the Far Side

2. Econ 10

3. Culture, Race, Difference (choose one from the following 3 courses):

  • ID 121 Culture, Health and Development
  • PECO 101 Introduction to Peace Studies
  • ID 227 Ideologies of Race and Development

4. Research Methods (choose either ID 132 or GEOG 141)

5. Political Economy of Development (choose one from the following 7 courses):

  • Geog 127 Political Economy of Development
  • Geog 274 Africa’s Development in a Global Context
  • ID 212 Development Management in Developing Countries
  • ID 217 Gig Cities: Work and Inequality
  • ID 221 Food Systems: Place, Politics and Policy
  • ID 222 Political Economy of Food and the Ethic of Eating
  • Poli Sci 173 Latin American Politics

6. Environment and Development (choose one from the following 7 courses)

  • EN 101 Environmental Science and Policy: Introductory Case Studies
  • EN 217 Place-based Ecological Knowledge
  • EN 242 Sustainable Development Assessment & Planning
  • EN 282 Food Security and Climate Change
  • Geog 017 Environment and Society
  • Geog 018 Environment and Development in the Global South
  • Geog 226 Critical Environmental Histories of the US: Race, Indigeneity & Nature

The foundational 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 seminar project, or your honors thesis. Hence, students are strongly encouraged to take ID 132  before beginning these endeavors (at the start of the second year)

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


Community Engagement and Practice (2 credit units)


  1. ID 298 (Internship) or ID 299 (Research, primary or field-based research preferred)
  2. One of the following types of courses (one credit unit):
  • Any Problems of Practice (POP) course, or
  • A language class at the intermediate level, or
  • A GIS course (either GEOG 190, GEOG 282 or GEOG 294), or
  • A quantitative method or statistics course (GEOG 110, SOC 202, or ECON 160)

IDSC program faculty do encourage students to consider advanced language learning to enhance their cultural competencies and their competitiveness on the job market.

Area of Specialization (4 courses/units)

IDSC majors take at least four elective courses in an area of specialization (3 electives and 1 capstone seminar).

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 and Community Health, Refugees, Forced Migration and Belonging) or they may design their own area of specialization with the approval of their IDSC advisor.

Three elective courses in an area of specialization (created with your ID advisor):

  1. One of these 3 courses may be a non-ID course at the 100 or 200 level
  2. Two of these 3 courses must be ID courses at the 100 or 200-level course

One capstone seminar (this seminar must be 200-level ID course that you take in either the first or second semester of your Senior Year)

To help students, capstone eligible seminars are noted as such at the time of course registration.

  • If you are pursuing the ADP in Community Development and Planning, IDCE 344 serves as the Senior Capstone class.  Please see the IDSC Handbook.

Optional Programming

Honors Thesis (1 course unit)

One must apply through the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for the Honors Thesis Program.  Please refer to the IDSC Handbook. 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.

Eligibility and Application Process

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 in April in the junior year
  • Two page update on thesis progress due on October 1.
  • 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 workshop of the completed thesis before the first and second (of which one must a core IDSC faculty member) in March of the Spring semester.
  • Presentation of the thesis at ClarkFEST in the Spring semester

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 on the Major’s Moodle site or contact the IDSC Undergraduate Program Coordinator.

The Double Major

Many students double major or major in IDSC and minor in related departments, such as Economics, Geography, Political Science, (especially international relations or comparative politics), 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 Girls, Inc.

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.D
Nigel 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 Humphreys Bebbington, Ph.D.
Ken MacLean, Ph.D.
Margaret Post, Ph.D.
Laurie Ross, Ph.D.

International Development and Social Change Courses

Courses offered within the last 2 Academic Years


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