One of the strengths of the Global Human Development Program is the access to graduate-level courses across a wide range of colleges disciplines within Georgetown University. We provide the opportunity for students to use some of their elective courses to acquire a specialization while pursuing their degree, which requires the completion of 9 credits on a focused topic such as Global Health or Education and Human Capital.

The most popular specializations are listed below. There are also a variety of course offerings related to gender, humanitarian assistance, conflict, science and technology, and regional studies.

Education and Human Capital

The explosive growth of the youth segment of the world’s population has only increased the importance of having a robust national education system that can offer equitable and affordable educational opportunity for all youth. While the vast majority of the world’s children are now enroll in school, 93 million, the majority of whom are girls, and almost 80 per cent of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, are not in school. Only 60 percent of children enroll in secondary school and over half of those drop out before completion. The reach and quality of educational opportunities (public, private and informal) have a direct impact on fertility patterns, the education of the next generation, employment prospects and pressures to migrate, and more, making education one of the most critical areas for development policies and programming.

This concentration will give students a deep understanding of the current status and likely future trends in education systems (from early childhood through universities) in poor and middle income countries. Students will explore the burgeoning literature on the impact of policies and programs on changes in access to schooling, relevance and quality of schooling and student achievement. It will build understanding of the complex challenges facing countries seeking to allocate sufficient human and financial resources to meet the demands of parents and youth. Students will become familiar with and develop expertise in different components of the educational system (policy, curriculum, teacher training and evaluation) as well as the broader role of education in current innovations in communications and social media as well as the rapidly changing job market. Students in this concentration will be prepared to design, manage and evaluate education programs as well as design, advocate and critique a range of education policies.

Food, Agriculture, and Urban Livelihoods

Notwithstanding the fact that the world is becoming increasingly urban, the majority of the world’s poor still live in rural areas and access to food at a reasonable cost profoundly impacts the lives and opportunities of the poor in low and even middle income countries. Agriculture remains a key driver of economic growth in a large number of developing countries. In addition, addressing food scarcity and famines to minimize the likelihood of recurrence has become an important challenge to development practitioners in the 21st century.

This concentration will give students a deep appreciation of the range of social, economic and political challenges faced by rural communities in developing economies and the opportunities that exist for rural economies to be a stimulus to national economic growth, provide food for the urban population and even lead to exportable food surplus. Beyond growth, improved nutrition and health, education, infrastructure development and non-farm job creation can all leading to better livelihoods. Students will also gain an appreciation of the role that food production, trade and food aid has played in addressing food insecurity, and the new technologies and approaches that offer the promise of mitigating food scarcity in the future. The roles of local and international actors in this process – public, private and non-governmental entities – will also be discussed.

Environment and Climate

One of the most pressing development challenges of the 21st century is managing and adapting to changes in climate and addressing a range of natural resource constraints – be they water, land, energy or even clean air. While change is inevitable, the pace and direction of our changing environment are profoundly affected by actions and policies pursued over the next 10 to 20 years. Sustainable management of land, forests, and watersheds, for example, often hinges on shared public-private governance with effective institutions, laws, policies and practices in place. Both the environment and civil society benefit when governments and local communities can agree to and enforce their respective rights and responsibilities regarding the use and allocation of forests, fisheries, minerals and other natural resources. Policy and field-level challenges across developing countries abound, however, as demographic pressure and urban/rural dynamics, competing local and global business interests, unclear tenure and property rights, climate change and other factors impact efforts to combine natural resources management (NRM) and governance.

Students working in this area will acquire a deep understanding of the range of environmental challenges the world now faces, and some of the trade-offs that programs and policy-makers must make. They will gain a better understanding of the scientific underpinnings of natural resource management, climate change and climate mitigation strategies, and they will develop a deeper appreciation for strategies that have worked to mitigate environmental challenges and achieved a measure of sustainability.

Quantitative Analysis

In almost every area of development, there is growing interest in and demand for quantitative analysis: the ability to compile, organize and analyze data and other information to inform the design and execution of development projects, programs, and policies. Decision makers increasingly want to ground their decisions in data, and want to better understand the key trends, relationships, and underlying forces that influence their options and their actions. This kind of analysis is needed across sectors, including education, health, agriculture, social enterprise, poverty, gender studies, and other critical areas of development.

This concentration will help deepen student’s skills in quantitative analysis, building on the core GHD courses in statistics and economics. Students with this concentration will have the opportunity to strengthen their aptitudes and knowledge in statistics, econometrics, evaluation, data analysis, research methods, research design, data modelling, data visualization, and other quantitative skills and methods; deepen their appreciation for the appropriate approaches and quantitative techniques needed to better understanding critical development challenges; and complete the GHD program with a strong set of quantitative skills. To attain this specialization, we recommend that students first take two economics courses and then GHDP-625 (Applied Econometrics) in the Spring Semester of their second year.

Global Health

The last several decades have witnessed tremendous progress in basic human health globally. With a few exceptions, life expectancy is rising, infant and child mortality is falling, and a growing number of communicable diseases are now being controlled, if not eliminated. At the same time, in virtually every country in the world, there are pockets of poor health that have remained out of reach of national programs. Further, there are a host of new health challenges, including the chronic diseases of aging populations, drug resistance, mal-distribution of health personnel globally and uncontrolled health care costs.

The concentration in Global Health is designed to give students a broad understanding of the determinants and global distribution of health by drawing upon both medicine and social science, including demography, economics, epidemiology, politics and sociology. Students will gain a basic understanding of the pathology of major diseases, and how these diseases are prevented, diagnosed and treated. They will also gain an understanding of cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-benefit approaches to health services; individual, cultural and behavioral considerations in the use of health services; the global labor market for health personnel; and an appreciation of the burden of disease and distribution of health services among distinct populations.