Development Studies Option Graduate Student Testimonials
Jan Oledan (Economics, 2018-19)
I chose the DSO because I wanted to get an interdisciplinary experience while pursuing my Master’s degree in Economics. Development economics is a well-established field in terms of studies and methods, however I was so used to approaching inherently interdisciplinary topics from the somewhat limited economic point of view. I chose DSO because I was interested in seeing how different fields approach research questions in terms of the what is asked and demanded, methodologies (whether qualitative, quantitative, or mixed), and to learn from my peers and other researchers.
I enjoyed meeting other students from the different disciplines through INTD 657 and engaging with topics from the themed lectures (i.e. having a different lecture each week dedicated to Economics, Political Science, and Anthropology). I learned about different topics that someone who studies Economics may not specifically focus on (i.e. “Canadian extractivism in Latin America” or “humanitarianism and development in the Palestine case”) and read texts which I would never come across in my other courses.
The program has helped me think of Economic research questions not just from an empirical and identification-based point of view, but also to consider such questions from other perspectives. In my current work at a research lab in Princeton, I still work on the former but have been engaged with other projects that require a greater contextual understanding that draws from other fields.
Despite the demanding course load from a one-year masters in Economics, overall, I enjoyed taking the additional course as it has helped me better understand and approach development topics that are inherently interdisciplinary.
Kip Jorgensen (Political Science, 2018-Present)
Being in the Development Studies Option has allowed me to pursue my research interests in International Development, while obtaining a comprehensive background in Political Science. The possibility of this avenue was one of my main reasons for attending McGill University. The experience of such an interdisciplinary space led me to further develop communication and analytic skills, as I translated the insights of my own discipline and listened to other students' unique approaches. The DSO cohort that I took the INTD 657 seminar with have remained my closest colleagues at McGill, and I frequently rely on their feedback and breadth of expertise. The research community supported through ISID and the DSO - events, conferences, and bulletins - have enriched my graduate degree immensely prepared me for my next academic and professional steps."
Hannah Reardon (Anthroplogy, 2018-Present)
Taking the Development Studies Option during my M.A. in Anthropology added real value to my degree. The first-year interdisciplinary seminar was one of the highlights of my program. Having the opportunity to discuss, debate and share ideas with students from other disciplines broadened the scope of my interests, and contributed to my adopting multi-disciplinary methods in my M.A. research. Attending ISID talks, seminars, and conferences is also invaluable for any graduate students interested in development research. These events give you access to a vibrant and diverse community of professors, researchers and development practitioners that will help you widen your network, and learn from experts in the field. For anyone doing graduate studies in the social sciences at McGill, and who hopes to work in an area related to development in the future, the DSO is an absolute must for your degree!
Peter Garber (Geography, 2018-Present)
Development is demanding. From our current understanding of it, development demands a level of resources--human, physical, and financial--seemingly unparalleled to almost all other global endeavors, while, at the same time, demanding nuance, precision, and care. These evidently extreme bounds of development 'thought' and 'practice' allow for an equally wide range of different interpretations and goals among the many people 'thinking about' and 'practicing' development. The Development Studies Option (DSO) provides the space for people from various backgrounds, whether academic or otherwise, to meet and contemplate the ever-changing and truly uncertain nature of development, while still leaving students with the hope and fervor needed to contribute to positive change in its many forms. From my experience with DSO and INTD 657, I learned that it is essential to confront development's vastness, diversity, and uncertainty from as many perspectives as possible, and fortunately, the DSO program provided the space for students to immerse themselves within the perspectives of other students and faculty, as well as the people and places 'targeted' for development. Altogether, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the DSO and the appreciation for diversity and uncertainty that the program imparts to its students. I would certainly recommend the DSO program to other students.
Laurence LeBlanc (Political Science, 2018-Present)
The Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) is a key institution in facilitating interest amongst scholars of the importance of development issues. My decision to study Political Science at McGill University was based on the availability of the Development Studies Option (DSO). In fact, I applied to McGill University only because the DSO existed, evidenced by my three applications to McGill in Political Science, Anthropology, and Geography--three programs which offered this DSO option. As someone who completed their undergraduate degree in International Development Studies, McGill University's commitment to development issues only struck a chord because this option was available. McGill University does not offer an MA in Development Studies, but the Development Studies Option is a step towards making this study area relevant across disciplines. I chose the political science program for my field of study because it aligned with my research interests. However, I would not have accepted the offer had it not been complemented by the DSO. After all, what better way is there to complement a political science degree than by internationalizing its scope and making it more interdisciplinary? The DSO opened access to ISID, opened access to professors interested in research that fascinates me, and opened access to practical coursework advancing my development knowledge. It would be a shame for such an option to be discontinued. Perhaps more importantly, it would symbolically diminish McGill's commitment to development issues for students with a passion for this kind of academic work.
Maxime Both (Political Science, 2019 – Present)
After finishing my undergraduate degree in the Joint-Honours program (IDS and Political Science) at McGill, I knew I wanted to continue this path into graduate studies, and I was especially thankful that McGill offered the ability to combine my two interests: politics and policy in developing areas. I am generally interested in themes of migration, peacekeeping, democracy support, transitional justice, and civil society, and I knew the program was well-connected with professors working in these fields.
The strength of the program is actually its ability to bring in academics from a number of fields, working on development topics, something which I would have not been exposed to had I been limited to a “pure” political science degree. Knowing the DSO from my undergraduate degree, I also very much wanted to make use of the knowledge and strengths of these professors, especially those from different fields working on the topic of migration (Professor Megan Bradley, Professor Diana Allan and Professor Kazue Takamura).
Enrolled in the INTD 657 course in Fall 2019, I really found it rewarding that this course better shaped an interdisciplinary approach to my studies, through incorporating students from different fields in social sciences (history, anthropology, political science, sociology) as well as a critical analysis of how to view development issues from different lenses. We need to be encouraged to look at our own topics of interests from different fields, as well as to see their limits and advantages, especially as our future (as young adults) is becoming increasingly complex. This course was excellent in encouraging me to consider how to view my own subject from different fields, and I think this is one of the many strengths of the DSO graduate option. It would be absolutely devastating news to me if the DSO could no longer offer graduate studies in this field, and quite frankly, discourage a highly valuable interdisciplinary approach to research. As a Teaching Assistant for INTD 200 I know there are many bright individuals who would be more than interested in continuing their studies in the DSO graduate program, and eliminating this option would be a loss to McGill and our wider community of potential future students and change-makers. I sincerely hope the Committee rethinks their decision and the impacts it has on current and future students, faculty, and the community at large.