The Global Development Studies (GDS) minor allows students to explore the political, economic, and sociocultural dimensions of global development, while also providing opportunities to learn skills and engage in experiences that enable future studies or work in the field of global development.
I feel like GDS is a lens through which to view the world and my studies. Whenever I'm looking at a global issue, I'm asking myself about the trade-offs, how this impacts low-income countries specifically, and how international organizations could effectively help. I chose a GDS minor because I wanted to take more classes that fit into the discipline and try my hand at writing a thesis. GDS complements my major really well: Foreign Languages and International Affairs (FLIA) is angled as a French major with a side of international affairs, and I think GDS gave me more of the global perspective to round it out.
Looking back at the classes I have taken at this university and what I have learned over my four years here, it is clear that global development has been a constant underlying theme all in all my studies. Although I did not originally notice the overlapping themes in my first few semesters, I quickly began picking up on the connections following my first global development studies class. From that point on, I have been able to understand the ways in which development theories and frameworks have impacted almost every field of study. I think that global development is important to study because not only does it provide you with a deeper understanding of the international system and policy creation, but it is prevalent in so many other fields, whether obvious or not.
When Global Development Studies was launched, I was ecstatic. I have always been interested in global health care and when I found out there would be a possibility to merge my pre-med studies with my global interests, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I came into Puget Sound with enough science credits that I was able to spend a lot of time with Global Development Studies, and I am so glad I did. The ability for me to be able to critically think about global health inequities and the challenges that the world faces when it comes to policy making and funding of healthcare gives me perspective when I am working in my community.
Studying Global Development allows students to apply an Interdisciplinary approach to understanding poverty and systems. Students synthesize the legacies of historical events (most notably, colonialism) with various political ideologies within political, economic, and social structures to better understand how marginalized groups are impacted. Students are encouraged to be critical of various approaches to development in order to consider the implications that arise when conflicting interests intervene in foreign communities. Students must be critical of their prior belief systems as they consider the dangers of intervening in ways that may not respect the dignity of vulnerable populations. Overall, students gain a holistic understanding of approaching poverty and develop skills necessary for implementing sustainable and respectful changes.
GDS was very different from most of the topics of my major (Communication Studies), but I felt that the interdisciplinary nature of GDS greatly complemented my major. Especially as I progressed, I found more and more overlap, and GDS informed my thinking on communications and vice versa. So often, I think our majors focus so heavily on the United States and Europe, but GDS helped me expand my thinking beyond just countries in the global north to include a more holistic world view.
As a sociology and anthropology major, and as someone who enjoys learning other languages, the interaction between two cultures is something I think about a lot. I quickly realized that GDS presents its materials in a way for students to historically contextualize their own lives within a broader global narrative, as well as understand the contemporary movements for a variety of intersectional issues that are being explored across the world. In a world that is becoming ever more connected, I found that it was through my GDS classes where I really learned and understood not just about development, but about the global processes connecting the world, as well as my own place within it. In this way, I feel more prepared for engaging with others, and interacting with cultures that are outside of my own.
I believe that Global Development Studies is invaluable in contextualizing the world today. Our experience of globalization means that political, economic, and social decisions impact people across the world, including people in developing countries. Global Development Studies ended up being the centralizing theme of my varying interests of French, music, and International Political Economy. It was through GDS that much of the Francophone literature that I read in French classes made sense in light of the history of colonialism and development. My goal is to make or contribute to a positive change in the world, and I believe that GDS has not only shown me some of the most pressing problems that need to be solved, but has also provided me with the tools to collaborate to solve these problems.
The Global Development Studies minor has allowed me to see outside the world of science and to analyze how networks of social, political, cultural, and economic factors are influencing the world around me. The interdisciplinary approach of this program has allowed me to explore many different subjects within the minor, such as global trade relationships, tourism, and healthcare practices that have ultimately led to a more complex understanding of different processes that have shaped global inequality.