MacArthur today announced grants totaling $5.6 million to ten universities in eight countries to establish new Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) programs. The programs combine training in the natural sciences, social sciences, health sciences, and management to help practitioners address global challenges such as sustainable development, climate change, and extreme poverty. The universities were selected through a competitive process that included reviews by experts outside the Foundation.
MDP programs are designed to offer graduate students training beyond the typical focus on classroom study of economics and management found in most development studies programs. The degree will provide students with substantive knowledge required to analyze and diagnose multi-dimensional problems such as malnutrition, extreme poverty, climate change, and infectious disease control by integrating the core disciplines of health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences and management. At the same time, the programs help develop practical skills through extended periods of field training to provide hands on, problem solving experience for students in a developing country.
"Today’s global development challenges—from human rights to extreme poverty and climate change—are interconnected," said Barry Lowenkron, MacArthur’s Vice President for Global Security and Sustainability. "So the next generation of sustainable development leaders must be able to draw on our best knowledge across multiple fields such as agronomy, health, and the environment."
These grants complete a $16 million MacArthur investment to seed the creation of new Master’s programs in sustainable development practice at universities worldwide over three years. The first awards were made last year to ten universities in seven countries. Together, the universities are expected to produce 400 graduates by 2013, with a total of 800 students enrolled each year.
The universities receiving grants to establish MDP programs are:
Universities were selected based on five criteria, including support from top university leadership, excellent infrastructure and academic programs, and the ability to serve as regional hub; geographic representation among students and exceptional faculty across the four core competencies of the natural, health, and social sciences and management; and a timeline and business plan for financial sustainability when funding ends in three years.
A Global Master’s in Development Practice Secretariat, supported by MacArthur and based at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, will help manage the MDP network of universities, develop an open-source repository for the MDP curriculum and other teaching materials, and offer an online global classroom on sustainable development for students worldwide.
The creation of the Master’s in Development Practice Program was a key recommendation of the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, whose report (PDF) was released in October 2008. The MacArthur-supported Commission was co-chaired by John McArthur, Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Promise, and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and comprised of 20 top thinkers in the field of sustainable development from around the world.