Certificate in Global Social Development Practice (GSDP)

China InstituteThe Objective of The Certificate in Global Social Development Practice (GSDP) is to identify, recruit, and train well qualified candidates who are committed to assume leadership in the development and provision of policies, programs, and practices that address problems in the international social development arena. These include careers in international, national, state, and local social welfare and human service agencies and social development organizations; government; international policy, research, and advocacy organizations; and firms and non-profit organizations that engage in global social development initiatives.

Students in the Certificate program will embark on a rigorous course of study focused on understanding social problems, social policy, and on-the-ground practice in a globalized world. Recognizing that in order to contribute to social change it is necessary to understand the social, political, economic, and cultural structures and processes that shape disadvantage, the program provides students with the opportunity to study social problems and responses, taking into account social relations and power dynamics at various levels (policy, community, organization, direct practice), in comparative cross-national perspective. It focuses on providing students with both a particular knowledge base (on global processes, historical trends, and comparative perspectives) as well as a set of skills (regarding critical assessment, project implementation, program evaluation, and management). It places particular emphasis on understanding and working with culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged populations, attention to the needs and circumstances of individuals in the context of their local environment and in light of the structures and influences that shape their conditions and opportunities at more macro levels, and an understanding of the social construction of social problems that hones students’ capacity to think critically and flexibly across contexts.

Eligibility and Application Procedures:

GSDP candidates must:

  • Be accepted as a first-year student at Crown Family School (second-year students are not eligible to apply to GSDP);
  • Have previous experience in global social policy or social work or a clearly expressed commitment to pursue a career in global social policy social work.
  • Have the ability to meet academic course requirements; complete an approved 6-month international block field placement; engage in an approved first year field placement; participate in at least two approved co-curricular activities each quarter; engage in a monthly discussion seminar; and complete a capstone project. 

Applications for the GSDP Certificate Program will be considered on an ongoing basis up to the final deadline of April 10, 2022 with priority consideration given to earlier applicants.

A complete application packet includes:

  1. A completed application,
  2. A resume or curriculum vita,
  3. One letter of recommendation that speaks to your ability to productively engage in and contribute to an international field placement setting for six months,
  4. Essay.

Please write an essay/personal statement (2-3 pages in length) describing:

(a) past experience in the global social welfare field;
(b) areas of interest, including (to the extent known) problem focus, population of interest, region of interest, and future goals; and
(c) how participation in the Certificate Program in Global Social Development Practice will help the applicant to achieve their goals.

Specific skills relevant to the applicant’s interests, such as language proficiency, should also be noted.


Program Details:

ACADEMIC COURSES: Students who are accepted into the Certificate Program will take at least four courses from available curricular offerings that focus on social welfare issues and social development practice in global perspective. This includes the required core introductory course, Global Development and Social Welfare (SSA 62912), plus at least three additional courses. Crown Family School offers courses that focus on international social work and social welfare, cross-national comparative perspectives, and the implications of global processes on social work and social development practice. For full descriptions, see our course catalog.

Students in India

Courses are organized under three major themes: (1) Foundation courses, which focus on underlying theories and social policy orientations in comparative perspective; (2) Issues and Perspectives, which examine particular social development themes; and (3) Social Development Practice in Context, which address specific strategies and tools related to social development practice globally.

Additional courses may be offered through other units of the university, including the Booth School of BusinessDepartment of Comparative Human DevelopmentHarris School of Public Policy, Law SchoolPozen Family Center for Human Rights, and the Pritzker School of Medicine. The courses may be accepted, by petition, as electives that count toward Certificate Program requirements.

  • 1st YEAR FIELD PLACEMENT (CHICAGO-BASED): Field placements provide opportunities for students to get direct experience working in agencies that serve disadvantaged immigrant or refugee populations, advocate for policies that address international social work issues, and engage in research on global social work topics. Most local (Chicago) field placements are designed for social administration students who are preparing for careers in international social development.
  • 2nd YEAR FIELD PLACEMENT (ABROAD): In addition to the first year field placement, students are required to participate in a six-month block field placement during their final year of the program. Students in the GSDP Certificate program take a course load of three to four classes per term, every academic quarter, prior to their international departure, and one independent study while they are abroad, adding cumulatively to 18 courses.
  • CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Students are required to complete two co-curricular activities per quarter over a two-year period. Suggested co-curricular activities will be provided to students in the Certificate Program through periodic e-mails sent to students. Lectures and other events that qualify as co-curricular activities are held at various times throughout the year. Students may select events that coordinate well with their academic schedules and particular substantive interests, including those hosted by the Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Race, Politics, and CultureInstitute on Politics, Katz Center for Mexican Studies, and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, among other university affiliates. Students in the Certificate Program will also receive a one-year membership to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which will allow them free access to a range of events the Council sponsors each year, which also qualify as approved co-curricular activities.
  • DISCUSSION SEMINAR: Students in the Certificate Program in Global Social Development Practice are required to participate in a monthly discussion seminar. Seminars in the first year will largely be organized around presentations by and discussion with scholars and practitioners working on specific global social welfare issues. In the second year, the seminar will also include presentation and discussion of students’ international experience in the field and work toward their capstone projects.
  • CAPSTONE PROJECT: In the spring of students’ final year, students will present on their experience in the field or on a specific project they have developed in the course of their study.