The international development certificate in the School of Foreign Service could require an additional course if it receives curricular approval.
Although juniors and seniors will be unaffected by the new changes, underclassmen pursuing the certificate may be required to take an additional class which focuses on building quantitative analytical skills.
“It’s imperative that students graduate with a quantitative tool kit that allows them to respond to and analyze future data,” Dean of the SFS Carol Lancaster said.
Raj Desai, who was appointed director of the IDEV program in July, anticipates that the proposed changes will take effect after receiving the curriculum committee’s approval later this semester.
“We’re being flexible, and as of now, there is no one course that students will have to take. But, we want students to have the skills necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing field,” Desai said.
Once the changes are officially announced, Desai plans to hold an open forum for all students pursuing international development to explain the exact requirements of the certificate and the rationale behind the changes.
“[It is an] interdisciplinary certificate designed not only for economics majors, but rather designed to engage politics, economics, social change, culture, et cetera. We’re not making changes because we see the program as lacking in any way,” Lancaster said. “We’ve been very pleased, and we’re in a position of being able to strengthen all of our programs, particularly the IDEV certificate.”
The IDEV certificate has increasingly attracted students since its creation in 2006, now ranking as the most popular certificate in the SFS. The administration came under fire from student advocates afterDesai was tapped to replace the program’s founding director Maria Luise Wagner in February, sparking rumors that the undergraduate certificate was slated for elimination. At that time, Lancaster assured those concerned that the certificate was not in danger and that Desai, as a tenured faculty member, would strengthen the curriculum.
Desai brings real-world and academic experience to the program. He has worked for the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program. Currently he teaches in both the SFS and the government department and works with the Brookings Institute.
Desai says he is committed to adding value to the certificate and increasing the marketability of the unique Georgetown initiative.
“My objective [is] to carve out the value added so that employers and graduate schools will look at it, and the certificate will signal something extra as far as the Georgetown label goes,” he said.
Correction: This article originally stated that Raj Desai was appointed to his position in February. In fact, he was appointed in July with the change being announced in February. This version has since been corrected.