Major in International Development and Social Change

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Analyze. Act. Achieve.

According to the International Monetary Fund, approximately 70 percent of all nations are “developing” — characterized by economic vulnerability and high levels of poverty. At Clark, international development and social change (IDSC) majors learn how to bring about positive change by thinking critically, acting collaboratively, and engaging responsibly.

Research and activism are hallmarks of the IDSC experience at Clark, from promoting sustainable development through local action to devising technological solutions to food shortages in developing nations. Our graduates — who have gone on to work for organizations including The World Bank, UNICEF, Care USA, Partners in Health, and the National Democratic Institute — work to create a better world every day.

Why Study International Development and Social Change at Clark?

  • In spite of the importance of international development and social change in today’s fractious world, Clark is one of the few U.S. colleges and universities to offer this major. If you want to make a difference, here is where you want to start.
  • You will be active in the world; recent examples of student projects include working with an environmental activist organization in northeast Thailand, developing a social entrepreneur project in Colombia, and researching habitat encroachment in Myanmar.
  • Enjoy the benefits of being part of our renowned Department of International Development, Community and Environment, which is built on more than 35 years of collective field experience in North America, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
From Clark campus to the State House

Clark students make an impact during state public health seminar

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Photographer and IDSC major wants to reframe public policy on immigration

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She's pulling together threads of research

Molly Gurney explores Thai weavers' protest against mining company

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Your Will. Your Way.

The Major Path

In the classroom, IDSC majors develop critical analytical skills, explore links between local and global perspectives, and focus on the human and ecological dimensions of sustainability.

The major requires the completion of at least 12 courses. You’ll take five core courses and four in a subfield of international development and social change that interests you. You’ll also complete one methods course, two skills courses, one internship or directed research project, and a capstone seminar.

We encourage you to take courses across programs representing diverse perspectives, including undergraduate classes offered through Clark’s Graduate School of Geography and Graduate School of Management. This provides opportunities for you to gain the skills you need to work across the nonprofit, private, government, nongovernmental organization, and research sectors.

Skills you will learn include how to:

  • Read and interpret quantitative and qualitative data
  • Think critically about social, political, cultural, and economic dynamics and relationships
  • Work in teams to apply theory to real-world problems affecting vulnerable groups in Worcester and abroad
  • Address challenges on every level, from a village to the global policy arena
  • Problem-solve, evaluate, implement, monitor and communicate in a logical, organized way
  • Evaluate your own position and intentions to facilitate social change

During your junior year, you might be accepted into the international development and social change honors program. Joining the program means you’ll work closely with a professor to create a thesis on a topic of your choice. Examples of recent honors theses topics are:

  • Immigrant Rights in the Climate of Economic Crisis: An Ethnographic Study on Native Public Opinion in Seville, Spain
  • Sex Work and Storytelling: Toward a Feminist Epistemology in Social Science Research
  • Access to and Utilization of Primary Healthcare Services by the African and Latino Immigrant Communities in Worcester, Massachusetts

The LEEP difference

An education merging knowledge, action, and impact

With Liberal Education and Effective Practice, lessons begin in the classroom but never end there. Your learning includes world and workplace experiences that forge your skills and shape your path.

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Explore the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment