About the MDP Program

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Global Challenges 

Social injustice, economic inequality, climate change and environmental degradation pose significant obstacles to achieving sustainable development across the globe. The MDP program at Arizona gives students the unique opportunity to engage with these issues internationally and along the U.S./Mexico borderlands (see local engagement).  

We bring together talented students and faculty dedicated to addressing these global challenges and developing new approaches that improve the well-being of the under-resourced and socially excluded. Our holistic, and social justice-oriented approach gives students a chance to learn about natural resources management, climate change adaption and mitigation, new models of agricultural production, health services for marginalized communities and monitoring and evaluation techniques.  

What Makes an MDP Student? 

As a practice-based professional degree program, we welcome students interested in gaining interdisciplinary skills and perspective into the field of international and community development. We also seek students with professional experience who wish to hone their analytical and managerial skills, technical abilities and practice. 

History of the Program

Founded in 2012, we are part of a Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) programs (8 in the United States, and another 28 worldwide). These MDP programs emerged from a year-long commission led by the Earth Institute at Columbia University in 2007, with support from the MacArthur Foundation. The commission aimed to reimagine sustainable development practice for the challenges of the twenty-first century. By combining the insights of the social, natural, and health sciences with essential management skills, these MDP programs are preparing a new generation of development practitioners. The University of Arizona program was cofounded and initially led by Prof. Tim Finan and has been directed since 2016 by Prof. Katherine Snyder.