Developing Leaders Through Diversity and Inclusion

Georgetown University’s Global Human Development Program embraces diverse backgrounds, experiences, identities and viewpoints to prepare students to work on real-world development issues

By Steven Radelet and Erwin Tiongson

July 2021

Developing Leaders Through Diversity and Inclusion

Steven Radelet (left) is Director of the Global Human Development Program at Georgetown University. Erwin Tiongson (right) is the Deputy Director of the Global Human Development Program at Georgetown University.

Georgetown University’s Global Human Development (GHD) Program is an innovative, academically rigorous skills-based master’s degree program that is designed to prepare the next generation of development professionals to work with public sector agencies, private businesses and nonprofit organizations to accelerate human development and fight global poverty. Since its launch in 2012, the GHD program has established itself as home to one of the premier graduate degree programs in international development in the world. Through coursework, extracurricular activities, faculty mentoring and practical fieldwork experiences, our graduates develop the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to become leaders in development and to make a difference in our global community.

The two-year GHD curriculum combines core courses in economics, political economy, quantitative analysis, evaluation, development finance, and project design and management. The curriculum aims to give students a strong foundation in these topics, along with the flexibility to focus their electives in the areas in which they are particularly interested through specializations and certificates including food security, education, quantitative analysis, climate change and humanitarian crises, among others. These courses are complemented by our ethics retreat, skills workshops, seminars and optional language courses, which together give students the skills they need for a successful development career. We are proud to be part of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, which has earned a long-standing global reputation for excellence.

The GHD program strongly emphasizes practical, hands-on opportunities for students to work on real-world development issues. Students intern with the many development organizations in Washington, D.C., spend their summer field experience working on exciting projects in developing countries around the world and devote their second-year capstone project to engaging with a real-world client over several months on an issue of importance to the client organization. As a result, our students complete the program with significant professional experience and a wealth of contacts to help them in the job market.

At the core of the GHD experience are the relationships among students, faculty and staff. As described in our Values Statement, everything we do as a community is grounded in our four core values of service, inclusion, innovation and ethics. With our small size of about 30 students in each cohort, frequent small group discussions and community atmosphere, students, faculty and staff get to know each other well, learn from each other and support each other.

The most important asset of the GHD program, by far, is the students themselves. We intentionally select students with diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging experiences from around the world with the belief that students can learn as much from each other as they can from the faculty. As reflected in our Values Statement, we embrace diverse backgrounds, experiences, identities and viewpoints, appreciate how these differences enrich our perspectives on development and strive to further enhance the diversity of our community. We aim to cultivate an approach to development that is based on humility and respect and to center, uplift and amplify the voices of people in the communities in which we work. We believe development efforts are most successful when they are based on mutual respect, inclusiveness, local ownership and open exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Towards that end, during the last several years, we have worked hard to diversify our student body, our faculty, our course offerings and the perspectives we bring to development. The most important steps we have taken have been aimed at building a more international and more diverse student body. For the coming year, across our two cohorts of a total of 62 students, 21 students (34 percent) are international, 18 students (29 percent) are minority Americans (Black, Indigenous and people of color, or BIPOC) and 23 students (37 percent) are white Americans. By comparison, five years ago, across the two cohorts of 52 students, 16 students (31 percent) were international, 4 students (8 percent) were American BIPOC and 32 (61 percent) were white Americans. The share of female students has remained relatively steady over time at 60 to 65 percent.

 We have also taken steps to diversify our faculty. This year 48 percent of our courses were taught by international or American BIPOC faculty, up from 26 percent five years ago. At the same time, the share of courses taught by female faculty has increased from 30 percent to 46 percent. We are encouraging faculty to include more diverse reading lists and perspectives, facilitate critical discussion in class, and incorporate more material dealing with race, justice, exclusion and ethics. For example, we are very excited that this fall we will be introducing a new required core course, Ethical Leadership in Development, taught by Professor Mohini Malhotra, and this spring Professor Shareen Joshi introduced a new elective course on Social Identity and Inclusion in Development Policy.

 At GHD, we strive to create an inclusive, open and supportive community. Georgetown provides a variety of support services for international and minority students, and our faculty meet regularly with students on a wide variety of issues. Two of our students serve as GHD student assistants for social justice, a role in which they provide input and recommendations to faculty and staff on our curriculum, events, recruiting and ways we can strengthen the social justice aspects of our program. We are continuously looking for ways to strengthen and improve our program, and student input is critical to that effort. If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies focused on global human development, come check us out!

Steven Radelet is Director of the Global Human Development Program at Georgetown University. Erwin Tiongson is the Deputy Director of the Global Human Development Program at Georgetown University. 


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