University of Florida
The Master of Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) Program is administered jointly by the Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for African Studies, each with over 150 affiliate faculty members. Our program strength lies in our faculty, who have over several decades developed a niche working with communities and appropriate partners in Africa, Latin America and other regions of the world. In addition to the utilization of grassroots, participatory approaches to development and research, faculty and students also carry out collaborative work with private sector entities, NGOs, educational institutions and with other partners devoted to legal and political dimensions of development. Faculty from over 7 schools of study and over 20 different departments, centers and research institutions at UF support the MDP Program. Program faculty and staff are committed to helping students understand the multidimensional nature of development challenges, to gain the analytical capacity and tools to apply to development challenges, and to become critical thinkers about complex development processes and their implications.
Over two academic years, students complete an interdisciplinary curriculum including 33 major credits of which 24 are denominated core credits in the natural sciences, social sciences, health and management. Students dedicate another 12 credits to earn a specialization of their choice, for example tropical conservation, gender and development, public health, ecotourism, organizational leadership for nonprofits, wildlife conservation, monitoring and evaluation, climate science, program management, sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, and social entrepreneurship, among others. A small number of students have earned joint MDP-Law degrees, and one student pursued a MDP degree in conjunction with her PhD degree program.
Most students carry out the capstone 10-12 week field practicum in the summer between year one and year two. The field practicum is the formative development practice experience for MDP students, involving collaborative work with a host organization (NGO, multilateral or government agency, or private sector). Students apply inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural problem solving skills outside the classroom in international contexts with local communities, experienced practitioners and teams, representing diverse organizations and institutions, to address important development challenges. The outcome is a service to the host organization and at the same time the fulfillment of a major academic requirement of the MDP program.
Our graduates find employment in nonprofits, NGOs, the private sector, with government and research institutions, among others. They are employed in a variety of development fields with position titles that include project manager, program coordinator, executive director, evaluation research coordinator, country director and monitoring & evaluation coordinator, to name a few. They serve sectors ranging from sustainable tropical agriculture, global health, forestry, gender and development, conservation, and education in an evolving group of countries which at present includes Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the US.