International Development Studies

The IDS program is designed for those students who wish to take advantage of the resources available at McGill to pursue an interdisciplinary program of study focusing on the problems of the developing countries. IDS is the third largest program in the Faculty of Arts, with an enrollment of over 1300 students. Each year about 150 new students enroll in one of the undergraduate (Minor, Major, Honours) programs.

Students are advised to:

  • Review the following course-related pages very carefully and thoroughly.
  • Review the FAQ and the Program Advising pages for pertinent information prior to making an advising appointment. Many general inquires can be found on the FAQ page.

All major and honours students in International Development Studies must choose between one of the following streams:

Stream 1: Economic Development and Living Standards

Experience has shown that development requires economic growth and is shaped by the distribution of economic resources. At the same time, the globalized economy has created new opportunities and new challenges for sustained growth. Courses in this stream revolve around the factors contributing to sustained economic growth, the trade-offs associated with different ways of achieving it, and the distributional issues development inevitably raises. More generally, this stream is also concerned with understanding what "development" actually entails in different contexts.

Stream 2: States and Governance

The courses in this stream focus on how political institutions shape developmental processes. Some courses analyze states and recognize how some promote development by providing diverse developmental goods while others impede development by preying on their peoples. Other courses focus on regimes and consider how political rights and participation, or their absences, affect developmental processes. Finally, several courses consider factors that make possible effective states and regimes.

Stream 3: Culture and Society

The courses in this stream focus on how the social structures, history, and culture of populations affect developmental processes. Associations, class, gender, religion, race, and ethnicity, for example, all shape development in multiple and diverse ways. Moreover, present developmental processes oftentimes cannot be adequately understood without considering history. Culture, in turn, is increasingly recognized within development studies as both a determinant and a constitutive element of development. In exploring all three, the courses in this stream provide important insight into the complex and varied relationship between social context and development.

Stream 4: Environment and Agricultural Resources

Within development studies, the environment has long been recognized as a vital determinant of development. More recently, many scholars have changed their environmental focus to emphasize sustainability. The courses in this stream recognize both: some courses consider how the environment can be exploited to promote human well-being while others consider how the environment must be respected to render development sustainable. Together, they highlight the delicate balance that must be attained between humans and their environments to make possible sustainable livelihoods.