Nine universities in seven countries have recently been awarded grants totaling $7.6 million by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to allow them to establish new Master's in Development Practice (MDP) academic programs. By 2010, the foundation will provide up to $15 million in grants to fund the creation of MDP programs at up to 15 universities around the world.

MDP programs will provide graduate students with training beyond the typical study of economics and management encompassed by most development studies programs by focusing on cross-disciplinary core curriculum that combines classroom studies in agriculture, policy, health, engineering, management, environmental science, education, and nutrition with field training. According to the MacArthur Foundation, these programs should produce 250 graduates holding a Master's in Development Practice degree by 2012.

The universities receiving funding for MDP programs are:

  • Emory University, Atlanta

  • The Energy Resources Institute University, New Delhi, India

  • James Cook University, Cairns and Townsville, Australia

  • Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

  • Tsinghua University, Beijing

  • University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal

  • University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana

  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.

  • University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria Columbia University received funding for the first MDP program in 2008. In fall 2009, after a summer session pre-master's program "boot camp," Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, in conjunction with The Earth Institute at Columbia, will launch the first MDP program—Master of Public Administration in Development Practice—for students seeking careers in the fields of global, social, and scientific public administration. It was created with support by the MacArthur Foundation in answer to a key recommendation of a report by the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, released in 2008, and will serve as a model for the development of other universities' MDP programs. The Earth Institute also will be the home base of a Global MDP Program Secretariat, which will administer an open-source, online curriculum accessible to all universities worldwide.