The first global initiative to provide rigorous professional training
for future leaders in the field of sustainable development was unveiled
last week at Columbia University in New York City.
The program, which was recommended in a newly released report by the
International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development
Practice, sets a new standard for other universities hoping to design
their own Master's degrees along this model. The John D. and Catherine
T. MacArthur Foundation has committed $15 million to seed the creation
of such Master's in Development Practice programs at up to 12
universities worldwide over the next three years. The Foundation will
issue a request for proposals from other universities later this month.
Columbia's program will begin in the fall of 2009.
The two-year Global Master's in Development Practice (MDP)
programs will build a new host of generalist practitioners able to
diagnose and address factors impacting sustainable development. Study
for the degree will include a rigorous core curriculum emphasizing
practical, cross-disciplinary knowledge from the health, natural, and
social sciences with a strong focus on leadership and management
skills. Courses will cover topics such as agronomy, climate change, and
tropical diseases and will be supplemented by two summers of field
"Drawing on knowledge from across the natural, health, and
social sciences and management, courses in the new MDP programs will
train students to address the complex challenges contributing to
poverty in proven, practical ways," said MacArthur President Jonathan
Fanton. "It is our hope that MacArthur's investment will not simply
fund this initial group of schools, but will also encourage other
universities to establish similar programs. We expect that these
programs will quickly become self-sustaining, and that they will set a
new standard for development education. We welcome the time when the
MDP will become as familiar and ubiquitous as the MBA."
Creation of the program is one of the core recommendations of a
report from the MacArthur-supported International Commission on
Education for Sustainable Development Practice. The year-long
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 including Ann Veneman, Executive Director of
UNICEF; R.K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and Goolam Mohamedbhai,
Secretary General of the Association of African Universities.
"The field of sustainable development is growing rapidly and
facing challenges of increasing complexity," said Sachs. "Today's
practitioners must confront the enormous and interconnected crises of
climate change, extreme poverty, epidemic disease, hunger, rapid
population growth, and environmental degradation. The new Master's in
Development Practice will train professionals with the
multi-disciplinary knowledge, tools and management skills they will
need for success."
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