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Focus Area

Development, Climate, and Sustainability


Focus on issues of development, poverty reduction, energy, environment, and climate change.

Some of the most vexing economic, political, social, legal, and environmental policy challenges the global community faces today require a central focus on development, climate, and sustainability. These challenges are escalating, propelled by a resurgence of nationalism, rising global inequalities, demographic trends, sharpening geopolitical competition, and inexorable climate change. Responses to these challenges are framed within the broader perspective of sustainable development for current and future generations, in developing and advanced industrial countries alike.

The Development, Climate and Sustainability focus area at SAIS prepares students with a sound comprehension of the core concepts of sustainable development in an era of the triple environmental crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and toxification of the planet, provides them with the skills and tools to analyze these problems, and empowers them with the knowledge necessary to discern the complex tradeoffs in formulating public policies to address these challenges. This focus area includes courses that emphasize an interdisciplinary approach involving the social, political, economic, legal and natural science disciplines.

Together with faculty at Johns Hopkins University, students will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of a wide variety of themes, including climate change and its social consequences, the causes of and solutions to extreme poverty, the transition away from fossil sources of energy, inequitable and deteriorating agriculture and food systems, threatened and degraded water supplies and other natural resources, policies for green economic growth, globalization and development, and the ever changing legal and regulatory regimes to face these hurdles. They will also develop critical, analytical, and integrative skills to understand and resolve sustainable development challenges broadly conceived.

Students will be expected to develop depth and breadth in at least two of the three themes of the focus area. Students with a strong interest in sustainable development can pair an emphasis on development with courses from either the climate or sustainability clusters, while those with a primary interest in climate and energy should stress courses from both of those clusters.

This focus area is ideal for students interested in a variety of non-academic career paths, including leadership roles in government ministries, in NGOs, in international financial and development institutions such as the World Bank and UNDP, or in the burgeoning private sector engaged in promoting responsible business conduct, climate policy, and clean energy transitions.

Thematic Areas and Course Mapping

Develop advanced skills and expertise to address complex development and environmental global challenges.

Economic Development

Students interested in a career in the field of economic development, or in using the tools of economics to understand development issues, can choose to pursue the Economic Development pathway. The students will hone their skills in the empirical methods most widely used in the field, and apply them to a wide range of issues related to development. The primary courses will be listed in both the DCS and IEF focus areas.

●Primary courses: Impact Evaluation in Development (IED) (pre-requisites: Econometrics + IE1 + IE2) | Economic Development (ED) (pre-requisites: Econometrics + IE1 + IE2, or IED) | Governance and Development (G&D) (pre-requisites: IED) | Topics in Economic Development (capstone, pre-requisites: ED or G&D) | Theories & Models of Economic Development (Bologna) ●Other related courses: International Economic Policy | Enterprise and Development | Corporate Sustainability, Business & Human Rights | Governance and Development ●Regional courses: Introduction to Economic Growth and Development of Southeast Asia | Financial Crises and Policy Dilemmas in Emerging Markets and Latin America | Economic Development and Policy in India | Asian Economic Development | Economic Development in Latin America (Bologna)

Energy and Climate Change

Students interested in climate change and the intersection with energy as part of the global decarbonization transition can pursue the Energy and Climate Change pathway. Students will learn about markets and economics, innovation in science, technology, and policy, and the governance of energy and the environment. In addition, students will be able to incorporate the study of region-specific themes and issues, including challenges in the global south.

●Primary courses: Introduction to Energy, Resources & Environment | Comparative Energy and Environmental Governance | Climate Change: Science, Economics, and Politics | Energy Economics ●Other related courses: The Costs of Climate Change: Responding in Developing Countries | Energy and Climate Change (Bologna) | Global Governance of Energy and Environment | Global Electricity Markets | Renewables: The Challenges of Transitioning from Marginal to Mainstream Source of Energy (Bologna) | International Water: Issues and Policies | Life Cycle Assessment | Geospatial Dimensions of Energy and Environment (GIS) | The Geopolitics of Energy | Science and Technology and International Affairs | Creating Markets in Infrastructure - Electricity and beyond | Organization and Regulation of Infrastructure | Nuclear Non-Proliferation Challenges in the 21st Century ●Regional courses: Energy Transitions in the U.S. | Energy in the Americas: Conflict, Cooperation & Future Prospects | Energy, Politics and Development in Africa | Facing the Oil Problem: The United States, Canada, OPEC and the World

Finance and Development

Students who hope to work in project finance, microfinance, or development banking can follow the finance and development pathway. Students can learn financial analysis, impact investing, credit risk skills and the broader context of global debt and development issues.

●Primary courses: Corporate Finance | Development Finance | Sustainable Finance and Impact Investing | Financial Inclusion (2 credits) | Venture Capital and Impact Investing in Emerging Markets ●Other related courses: Public Finance | Public-Private Partnerships: Creating Public Value in Economic and Social Infrastructure | International Financial Markets | Credit Markets & Credit Risk | Business Strategies for Global Financial Institutions | The International Financial Institutions: Case Studies in the Search for Relevance | Asia in International Finance | Financial Crises and Policy Dilemmas in Emerging Markets and Latin America | Governance and Development

Social Policy and Development

Students who wish to pursue a career designing, carrying out and evaluating social policies, particularly ones that affect disadvantaged populations, can follow the social policy and development pathway. Students can learn about policy-making in a variety of sectors, including food and nutrition, health, education, migration, children’s welfare and disaster response.

●Primary courses: Global Food Systems and Policy | Global Health Policy | Reimagining International Development for Children and Youth | Social Entrepreneurship: Driving Innovation in Development | International Migration, Diasporas and Development | Politics of Disaster in the Middle East and Beyond ●Other related courses: Health Policy Analysis in Low and Middle-Income Countries (at Bloomberg School of Public Health) | Development Strategies | Humanitarianism, Aid, and Politics | Nutrition and Food Equity and Ethics (at Bloomberg School of Public Health) | Digital Development: Innovative Use of Technology in Emerging Markets | The International Financial Institutions: Case Studies in the Search for Relevance | Public-Private Partnerships: Creating Public Value in Economic and Social Infrastructure | International Human Rights Law Clinic | International Water: Issues and Policies | Rural Development, Gender and Social Inclusion (Bologna) | Labor Market Politics in Developing Countries (Bologna) ●Regional Courses: Introduction to Latin America: History, Politics and Society (Bologna)


Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Jessica Fanzo

Interim Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and International Research Cooperation, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Director of the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program

Johannes Urpelainen

Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment, Founding Director, Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP)

John Banks

Practitioner-in-Residence of Energy, Resources and Environment

Deborah Bräutigam

Bernard L. Schwartz Professor in International Political Economy, Director of China-Africa Research Initiative

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