Development Studies

The Development Studies Nexus track gives students the analytical skills to understand the complexities of global poverty, inequality, and injustice and strategies that state and non-state actors have used to improve the well-being of the people. Through an interdisciplinary set of courses, devised in consultation with the Nexus track chair, students can explore the relationships among history, politics, economics and power that shape the conditions and choices that developing countries and marginalized people around the globe face. Ultimately, the track enables students to engage thoughtfully with the development endeavor, and to imagine  ways to promote social, economic, and environmental justice from the personal to the global scale.

Track Chair

Professor Holly Hanson


Courses may be chosen from the list of faculty-approved courses for your Nexus track, in consultation with your academic advisor and the Nexus track chair. You are not limited to the courses on these lists, however. If you identify another Mount Holyoke or Five College course relevant to the Nexus track, you can ask permission of the Nexus track chair to allow you to count the course toward your Nexus.

Example Programs

In her sophomore year, Jane takes the new 200-level Dilemmas and Debates in Sustainable Development course. She is also thinking of doing fieldwork, and so takes Anthropology 275, Research Methods (ethnography) that year, as well as Economics 203, Environmental Economics. In the spring she takes COLL 210, Ready for the World. She receives funding to go work on an international project exploring new business design for rural women in Kenya. When she returns she takes the post-experience course, presents in the fall LEAP symposium, and adds in another course called Economics 314, Economic Development in the Age of Globalization.

Sara is considering an Asian studies major and has taken several courses in south Asian history, and politics (such as History 242, Colonial Worlds: Africa and India). She receives funding to work at a USAID development project that is exploring alternative agricultural design in northern India. She takes the pre-course and embarks on her internship. This trip makes her realize that she is also interested in sustainable development, and so she enrolls that fall in both the new 200-level Dilemmas course and takes the post-course that culminates in a presentation at the fall LEAP symposium. Over the course of the next two semesters she takes three more classes, ENVST 321, Agroecosystems, and ENVST 344, Biogeochemistry of Northern Ecosystems, as well as a natural sciences course on local food systems at Hampshire College, and COLL 211, Tying It All Together.

Study Abroad and Nexus

Coursework from a study abroad program may be applied towards the Nexus with the approval of the track chair.   Students can participate in study abroad programs without participating in Nexus or, by the same token, participate in Nexus without doing study abroad programs, but this study abroad opportunity and Nexus track are particularly suited to each other.