Development studies program growing

The development studies department at Queen’s will be going through some development of its own next year, adding new courses and program offerings in September 2006.

Development studies, which examines economic, political and social aspects of development in Canada and abroad, will start offering the program as a major starting in September 2006, due to student demand. It was initially introduced as a medial and minor in 1997.

David McDonald, director of development studies (DEVS), said his students have been asking for a DEVS major for years.

“We didn’t have the staff and faculty in place until this year ... that’s why we’ve waited until now to do it,” he said. “A lot of other universities in Canada offer a major, so we were concerned. We didn’t want to lose students to other universities who were keen to do DEVS.”

There are currently 20 development studies programs—also known as international development studies—at the undergraduate level in Canada, McDonald said “Back in 1997, there was demand for this kind of program at Queen’s and the department was put together by a faculty member who convinced the faculty office that there was student demand for it,” McDonald said.

Several core DEVS courses were created, and students were able to choose from more than 150 courses from other departments that deal with development issues.

McDonald said he attributes the “phenomenal” growth in student interest in DEVS to DEVS’s interdisciplinary nature.

“Having other departments offering courses is a critical part of the program,” he said. “Students want to learn about the world as a whole and DEVS is the one place they can come and learn about Africa, Asia and Latin America in a focused, comprehensive way. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, students want to learn about the whole world and not just parts of it.”

The department has hired two new faculty members and will have a total of five full-time faculty who will be teaching four new courses next year.

McDonald said the most important new course is DEVS 100, a full-year course available to first-years called “Canada and the ‘Third World,’” which will be an introduction to the main conceptual debates in DEVS.

At least three other new courses will also be offered next year.

McDonald said the medial and minor are being revamped as well, including the addition of a language requirement.

“[Students need] either to learn another language or to take a course in film or literature in the second language,” he said, “because so much international work is done in languages other than English.”

The DEVS department currently has 220 students in its medial program, but hopes to increase the number to 390. The department is looking to take 105 new students in the new major in 2006 and increase that number to 120 to 125 in years to come.

While the application process to DEVS in previous years required students to submit a letter of interest, admission will now be based on grades. McDonald said the change was made because the department is growing and managing the process would become more difficult.

“It’s a very exciting time for us. We’re also looking at introducing a masters program in the next year or two,” he said. “We’ve improved the program ... and the work study component [gives] students the opportunity to get credit for working or studying overseas at an NGO related to development—that kind of experiential learning is very important to the program.” The work study credit allows students to apply the development theory that they have studied by working with an agency involved in international development, either in Canada or abroad. Placements normally last 10 to 20 weeks.

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