About IDS

About IDS

Why are the poor countries poor? Why are the rich countries rich? What can be done to enable poorer countries to become better off? Do policies that narrow the economic gap between nations worsen or ameliorate the socio-economic inequalities within them? Are the factors that have widened socio-economic inequalities in the developing world the same or different than those in more fully industrialized countries? To address these questions, students in the IDS major focus their studies on the cultural, political and economic realities of the developing world, which includes the countries of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.


  •  Interdisciplinary Major
  •   Study abroad and internship credit may fulfill major requirements
  •  Small core courses and senior seminar
  •  Senior Thesis option that leads to Departmental Honors
  •  Students must  apply to be admitted during Fall of their Junior Year



IDS students' educational experiences are balanced between applied, field case-study learning and theoretical, conceptual knowledge. We believe strongly that these two types of learning are inseparable, and are useful for work in academia, government agencies, private industry, or non-governmental and non-profit organizations.  Most importantly, the program assists students in developing critical thinking skills with insight into, and knowledge of, the complex and diverse world community.


 Our approach enables students to address the challenges of development from several different academic lenses. Ranging from Anthropology to Economics, Public Health to Women's Studies, Geography to History, Political Science to Sociology and more, our curriculum exposes students to the concerns of developing countries from diverse perspectives. This approach is indispensable to the understanding global development issues in a holistic and robust way for both practical and scholarly purposes. 


The program values field experience involving travel, study and/or work in regions in the Developing World. Thus a strongly encouraged (though not required) aspect of the major is study abroad, especially in a developing region, and to intern with a local, national, or international community development agency/organization. While encouraging the acquisition of theoretical and conceptual knowledge, the program is equally concerned with their practical application to global realities.


Common topics of concern to students in the International Development Studies major include:

  • The History of International Economic Expansion
  • Development Theory & Aid Institutions
  • The Consequences of Rapid Urbanization
  • Population-Resource Issues
  • The Transfer of Resources
  • Conflict Resolution & Diplomacy
  • International Migration & Refugee Relief
  • War and Political Violence
  • Health, Illness, and Health Services
  • Food Security & Self-Sufficiency
  • Human Rights & Environmental Justice
  • Political Stability & Democratization
  • Survival of Indigenous Societies
  • Conflicts between Modernity & Tradition
  • Inequalities of Wealth & Power at all Levels
  • Relationships between Development & Underdevelopment
  • Cultural Identity and Cultural Production
  • Gender Disparities in the Developing World
  • Globalization as a Contributor to Development and Underdevelopment 

Water in the middle east and africa: A nexus of cooperation and conflict