An Integrated Approach to Social Change

Our community of scholars and practitioners is dedicated to fostering environmental sustainability, social justice, and economic well-being in both the developing and developed world. The major forces of social change—grass roots initiatives, social movements, government policy, market approaches, entrepreneurship, technological innovation, individual action, and education—form the core of our transdisciplinary studies.

The programs approach complex problems by crossing conventional disciplinary boundaries. Each of IDCE's programs is flexible, encouraging students to take courses across programs representing a diversity of perspectives. The breadth of opportunities for integrated coursework makes IDCE unique among similar traditional programs. IDCE maintains close links with other academic centers at Clark, including the Graduate School of Geography and the Graduate School of Management, providing even more opportunities for students to gain the skills they will need to cross nonprofit, private, government, NGO, and research sectors.

IDCE Signatures

Taking a Transdisciplinary Approach

IDCE's master's programs are designed to mutually enrich one another. Our commitment to transdisciplinarity means that our educational approaches are based inherently on the integration of multiple disciplines and perspectives from a broad array of scholars, practitioners, and stakeholders, making an IDCE education unparalleled among other graduate programs in international development and social change, environmental science and policy, community development and planning, or GIS.

Creating Agents of Social Change

All IDCE programs focus on how to effectively enact social change. Whether working with local communities to address environmental health concerns, developing improvements to innovative microfinance opportunities in Asia, or advancing climate change adaptation initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa, IDCE graduates pursue action on the forefront of social change.

Integrating Theory and Practice

IDCE trains students to integrate what they learn about theory with practical experience in approaching complex social and environmental problems. Students learn to engage with complexity in order to analyze problems from various perspectives in search of innovative solutions. Through coursework, group projects, internships, and extracurricular activities, students are encouraged to cross boundaries between scholarship and practice, to think both theoretically and empirically, and to put their ideals into practice.

IDCE Graduate Programs

IDCE offers four distinct, yet interlinked Master's degrees:


International Development and Social Change


Environmental Science and Policy


Community Development and Planning


Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment

IDCE Dual Degree Programs

IDCE offers two dual-degree programs in partnership with Clark's Graduate School of Management:


Environmental Science and Policy / Master of Business Administration


Community Development and Planning / Master of Business Administration

[ Spotlight Profile ]

Heather Tomlins

(IDSC '12)

spent the Fall 2011 semester in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, conducting a risk assessment project for Save the Children. Her project focused on assisting Save the Children with identifying occupational and organizational risks associated with their youth development programs.

Simultaneously, she developed her MA project around risk management in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with particular emphasis on institutional relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors in remote locations. She was able to provide Save the Children with a set of comprehensive recommendations for mitigating risk at the local, state, and national levels of the organization, and continues to consult with project partners remotely.

She also presented her findings at the 2012 Clark University Graduate Student Research Colloquium, and engaged in a directed study with Prof. Denise Bebbington in Spring 2012 to further analyze NGO governance and practice, based on her work with Save the Children.

Scholar-Practitioner Initiatives

IDSC - Dalits in Nepal

IDSC students developed a project proposal that aims to empower Dalits, while also strengthening the rule of law for the elimination of untouchability. Their proposal was funded by the European Commission's European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights program.

ES&P - Strengthening Vulnerable Communities

ES&P students explored environmental justice through the Strengthening Vulnerable Communities in the Worcester Built Environment initiative. They used environmental sampling to learn how social drivers keep vulnerable communities at risk for chronic diseases and hazards such as lead poisoning.

CDP - Tourism in Cusco, Peru

CDP students applied planning skills learned in the classroom to explore the impact that tourism has on culture in Cusco, Peru. They initiated several dialogues with residents of Cusco about ways to increase their ability to influence the development process.

GISDE - Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil

Students in the GISDE program interned at the endangered and fragmented Atlantic Rainforest north of Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The interns created a GIS database and analyzed satellite images for the area surrounding Iracambi, including the Serra do Brigadeiro State Park.

More about current and past IDCE Students