UC Berkeley master of development practice program joins Goldman School of Public Policy

photo of the school of public policy
Grace Zhang/Staff
The Master of Development Practice program at UC Berkeley joined the Goldman School of Public Policy to solidify the program’s future. Under the arrangement, the program can now offer counseling, career services and further interdisciplinary collaboration for its students.

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UC Berkeley’s Master of Development Practice, or MDP, program, joined the Goldman School of Public Policy on Thursday, leaving the Rausser College of Natural Resources, or CNR.

Established in 2011 by MDP executive director David Zilberman with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the program exists as a professional master’s program to provide an interdisciplinary education in sustainable development.

According to program director George Scharffenberger, the core curriculum combines quantitative and qualitative methods, sciences such as public health and natural resources, business and public policy to train students to become global leaders.

“MDP is a program that brings people from developing countries from international communities to Berkeley to raise awareness about international development,” Zilberman said. “The idea was to develop a program focusing on sustainable development, a program that would empower people and treat them like equals.”

The program was created as a response to a 2008 study funded by the MacArthur foundation, according to Scharffenberger. Additionally, he said the study cited the need for an integrated course of study that trained professionals to address global challenges around climate, democracy and public health.

Although the program began as an effort to provide professionals to world banks or nongovernmental organizations, Scharffenberger claims that the program widened its focus to include other organizations and the private sector. MDP also began to address domestic issues after the onset of public health and climate emergencies, according to Henry Brady, former dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy.

“We realized that this is such a globalized, interconnected world. Sustainable issues, things about environmental justice and public health, these issues are not just out there, they’re right here at our doorstep and in our house,” Scharffenberger said.

MDP, founded in CNR, was led by Zilberman and a group of faculty called a graduate group, which represented the many different departments and schools of the campus, according to Scharffenberger. Because of Zilberman’s position at the college and its interdisciplinary nature, CNR was a “natural starting place” for the program, Scharffenberger added.

However, the program is moving to the Goldman School of Public Policy to solidify its existence as a professional master’s program. While no major changes will be made to the course curriculum, the school will now be able to provide counseling and career services to the students, according to Scharffenberger and Brady.

“We’re going to provide the administrative support and a home for the program so it can enjoy economies of scale and it can interact with our other programs,” Brady said. “Students with similar interests, all master’s students, can actually get to know one another and work together.”

Contact Kavya Gupta at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @kavyaguptta.