International Development Program Concentration

The International Development concentration equips International Relations Online students with the skills necessary for careers that contribute to improving the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. The coursework provides an understanding of the economic, political, and social challenges of economic development; contending perspectives on how best to achieve development; and issues crucial to development, such as the environment and global health.

Sample Learning Outcomes 

Upon completion of this concentration, students will have met a number of learning objectives, including the ability to:

  • Define and understand central concepts of international development, including measurement of development, actors, theoretical approaches, and the history and trajectory of the field.
  • Gain a greater ability to apply knowledge and analysis to specific development contexts and cases in order to evaluate the strengths and limitations of theoretical approaches, programs, and projects.
  • Evaluate the merits of different approaches to international development on the basis of values at stake, including ethical, political, social, environmental, and economic ramifications.
  • Have a working understanding of the causes and implications of a range of global environmental challenges and of different forms of response.
  • Analyze the main problems related to diseases and health in international relations and development policy, as well as international efforts to control the spread of disease.

Watch a sample of the course content from this concentration.

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Specialized Courses

In addition to core courses, students who select the International Development concentration will take three of the four following courses:

Politics of Global Development

This course examines the field of international development, focusing on the history, theory, and current approaches toward alleviating poverty and global inequality. Students will focus especially on the impacts of development strategies on the environment and on the most vulnerable members of society. The course emphasizes critical analysis of the central assumptions and power relations that have influenced the field as well as the resulting discourses, policies, programs, and political arrangements.

In the course, students will explore what development means, how to measure it, and how to understand attempts to balance among economic, ecological, and equity concerns. They will engage the key propositions that emerge in contemporary international development debates and offer frameworks for evaluating theories, interventions, and policies. The course offers a foundation for uncovering and assessing social structures, institutions, inequalities, and development policies as theories meet practice.

Foundations of Economic Development

This course has three main aims:

  1. It introduces different ways to define and to measure economic development.
  2. It examines the nature and causes of the economic challenges in developing countries (growth, employment, poverty, income inequality, gender inequality, financial stability, maintaining balance of payments, etc.).
  3. It explores debates about the most effective economic policies for promoting the advancement of low- and middle-income countries.

Sustainable Development and Global Environmental Politics

Global environmental dangers are among the most profound challenges facing humanity. They currently undermine the quality of life for many and threaten, in the extreme, to compromise the fundamental, organic infrastructure that supports all life on Earth.

This course introduces the sociopolitical dynamics of global environmental affairs. Students will explore the causes of environmental harm and avenues of effective response. The course examines a number of key environmental challenges, including species extinction, food and agriculture, and climate change. Its overall aim is to familiarize students with the role that power plays in the emergence of environmental problems and how power can be wielded in the service of sustainability.

Global Health Politics and Policy

This course begins with an overview of the most significant health and disease issues facing the global community—including HIV, TB, malnutrition, SARS, and avian flu; endemic diseases like malaria; and the growth of noncommunicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Students will relate these nontraditional challenges to current theories and research in international relations. The course addresses a number of different issues in international relations and affairs, primarily from the perspective of how they interact with global and international public health.

Careers in International Development

An International Development concentration prepares International Relations Online students to apply the skills they learn—including research, communication, assessment/evaluation, and quantitative analysis—in think tanks, nonprofits, consulting firms, international organizations, and government agencies. Potential career paths include positions as consultants, analysts, administrators, teachers, program/project managers, and others. 

Students may work within the field of international development in areas such as:

  • Development and disaster relief
  • Infrastructure building
  • Trade and economic policy
  • Human rights and humanitarian aid

The School of International Service also offers the following programs from International Relations Online: Master’s in International Relations and International Service for Experienced Professionals, as well as an on-campus master’s degree, the International Development Program, in Washington, D.C.

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