Brown University
Development Studies



Development Studies is an interdisciplinary concentration whose main mission is to provide students with the knowledge, critical perspectives and skills they need to engage with the issues and problems of social and economic development, especially as they relate to the Global South. The concentration draws from a range of disciplines, but is particularly grounded in the social sciences: anthropology, sociology, political science, history and economics. Concentrators combine courses that offer local and historical knowledge of specific areas of the developing world, with those that explore transnational dimensions of development. During the senior year concentrators complete a capstone experience tailored to their interests in some aspect of international development. Towards this end, they benefit from extensive faculty and peer support.

The rigor and creativity of this academic experience is evidenced by the fact that many concentrators have published parts of their senior capstone in peer-reviewed academic and policy journals, while others have received competitive thesis awards or used their training to develop concrete initiatives in the practice of development.

What is DS?

Development Studies is an interdisciplinary social science concentration. The study of complex processes of social and economic development has theoretical, methodological, practical and ethical dimensions. As such, it calls on a wide range of academic disciplines. Development Studies concentrators are encouraged to develop the combination of skills and specialized knowledge that is best suited to their area of interest within the field. The study of development in a particular region or nation requires an intimate knowledge of internal factors, as well as an understanding of larger global processes.

The concentration emphasizes what is distinctive - both historically and culturally - about particular regions and the ways in which their development reflects general processes of socio-economic change. Thus, each individual program of study should include analytically oriented courses that cut across particular regions as well as courses that deepen local and historical knowledge.

While the concentration is designed to produce graduates with expertise in the study of development rather than area specialists, the large majority of concentrators combine their course work with some kind of first-hand experience in the developing world. Most students have spent time in developing countries either by studying or conducting research for their capstone project abroad.

The main strength of the concentration is the concentrators themselves. They have achieved impressive results academically and have taken numerous initiatives in organizing activities on campus.

See where a DS degree can take you! 

Visit our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter (@BrownDevStud)