The Dean’s Office of the School of Foreign Service announced significant changes to the Certificate in International Development Program Thursday that will affect current freshmen and sophomores.
The changes in the program’s structure will reduce the number of electives needed while requiring students to take one of several approved quantitative courses, as well as an intermediate level course in international development.
SFS Deans Mitch Kaneda and Kendra Billingslea, who will oversee the program’s administration, announced the quantitative shift.
“We’ve tried to give a little bit of form and substance to the certificate, and part of that involves a little more emphasis on analytical tools and methodologies,” Raj Desai, director of the IDEV program, said. “The field is changing to the point that if you don’t graduate with those skills, you will be at adisadvantage.”
Visiting assistant professor Shareen Joshi, who teaches the gateway course for the IDEV certificate, said that students who do not develop these kinds of analytical skills during their training are being done a great disservice.
“I think regardless of whether you work for a small [nongovernmental organization] or a big international organization, or go to graduate school, that skill set is required, not optional, anymore,”Joshi said.
Desai and Joshi added that their experience working with former Georgetown graduates who lack these skills indicated the need for a change in the program.
“It’s very difficult. They don’t have a lot of options when it comes to job placement if they cannot read a regression table or if they don’t know what a poverty table is,” Desai said.
Another change in the program is the elimination of elective course subfields. Desai hopes that this change will allow more flexibility in terms of students’ interests by allowing them to take all three electives in the same area of study.
Many students are excited about the prospect of more flexibility within the program.
“If it means that students have more say in their education … I am all for it,” Sonia Kikeri (SFS ’13) said.
The new program will be the first certificate administered through the dean’s office, rather than through another academic department within the university. Kaneda hopes that this change will provide the necessary support for launching the new program.
In addition to explaining the certificate’s changes, Desai swiftly dispelled last semester’s rumors that the certificate was being disbanded.
“You have two deans, an administrator and core faculty who are now involved,” he said. “It is not going anywhere. I wouldn’t have taken the directorship had it been the case that it was being eliminated.”