International Development and Social Change (IDSC)


Tackling the challenges of global poverty, inequity, and injustice

For over thirty years, the International Development and Social Change (IDSC) program has prepared students to tackle the challenges of global poverty, inequity, and injustice. The IDSC program addresses these deep-seated problems through teaching, research, and practice. Our long experience in the field has made us skeptical of easy solutions. Therefore, we help students develop the analytical skills necessary to understand the complex relationships among history, politics, development, and power, and the social relations in which they are embedded. We combine a strong intellectual focus on social theory and its power to explain and critique, with a passion for social, economic, and environmental justice through action.

The IDSC faculty is unique in both its transdisciplinary approach and its commitment to a scholar-practitioner ideal. Our students also come from a broad range of experiences, disciplinary backgrounds, viewpoints, identities, and geographic origins. Our students learn to understand the dynamics of power and to develop complementary skills to challenge privilege and structural violence. IDSC students take what they learn in the classroom and from each other and develop it further through a process of creative engagement with communities, social movements, and groups that have been overlooked or harmed by development efforts.

To us “social change” means engaging in the scholarly and practical task of challenging conventional wisdom and working toward social, economic, and environmental justice.  While implicit within the notion of social change is the promise of a better world, we recognize the difficulties and complexities associated with these efforts and the questions they raise about how intentions to “do good” bear out in practice. Current movements for social change bear the legacy of past ones, thus requiring us to understand the functioning and implications of contemporary relationships of power and politics in specific contexts, as well as re-imagining alternative and more just societal relationships.

IDSC trains complex thinkers who go beyond charity and technical solutions to engage intellectually and practically with social change issues. We work with students to move from ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’, a process that requires students to become partners in their own learning.

Our faculty of ‘scholar/practitioners’ help students develop the skills to communicate and collaborate towards social justice in such areas as:

  • Global Social Movements and Civil Society
  • Corporate Power
  • Race and Nationalism
  • Global Health and Social Justice
  • Education
  • Human Rights
  • Displacement and Migration

Sample courses include:


[ Spotlight Profile ]

Huynh Tan Anh
(IDSC '12)

Huynh Tan Anh (Vietnam) received a Bachelor degree of Agriculture and Forestry Economics from Tay Nguyen University in 2000. After graduation, he spent 4 years working for Agriculture State-Enterprise as a planning officer, and then decided to improve further in agriculture economic field by conducting the Master of Science in Agriculture Economics in 2006 in Hanoi University, Hanoi capital, Vietnam. In the year getting the Economics Master degree, he was promoted to work for Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Daknong state located in the Central Highland of Vietnam. In the institution, he worked as a planning officer and then coordinator of Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Program Support Unit.

Read more | Other profiles

Admissions Calendar

Application Deadline: January 15, 2013
Feb 1, 2013 (Dual Degrees)

Late Applications:
Contact the Admissions Office at 508-793-7205