Global Social Development Practice Program of Study (SW)

Global Social Development Practice (GSDP) is a Program of Study. You must be accepted first to the Crown Family School's Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) program and then by the Program of Study. Crown Family School students apply to GSDP Program of Study during the fall quarter of their first year. Criteria for acceptance include an ability to critically reflect on the implications of cross-cultural practice and an articulation of an interest in gaining a global perspective on social welfare problems, policy, and practice.


The Global Social Development Practice Program of Study is designed for students interested in understanding social welfare challenges in a globalizing world. Internationally, processes of urbanization, economic liberalization, and various dimensions of globalization have had an increasing influence on local contexts. Along with some social benefits, these changes have led to a number of social problems and policy challenges. These occur across a range of social arenas, including growing disparities in wealth, income access to opportunity, and new pressures on service systems and governance regimes.

This program provides students with the opportunity to think about social problems, social policy, and social work practice in comparative cross-national perspective, grounded in scholarship and practice around a set of concrete issues.

Any Crown Family School student may take GSDP courses, regardless of whether they apply and are accepted into the Program of Study. This provides all students with an opportunity to incorporate some international perspectives into their work. The Program of Study allows students with a particular interest in working abroad or with international populations in the United States to craft a program that allows for a more robust specialization, including coursework, a GSDP-relevant second-year field placement in Chicago, an integrated field seminar with other students focused on global social development practice, and experiential learning abroad.


The Global Social Development Practice Program of Study selects a cohort of students from either the social administration or clinical concentration

Students who are accepted into the Program of Study will take at least three courses from available curricular offerings that focus on social welfare issues and social work practice in global perspective. This includes one of the required core introductory courses during Spring quarter of the first year, plus at least two additional elective courses in the second or third years of coursework. Students in the Program of Study will also engage in an internship or study program abroad during the summer months. Students will also participate in an integrated clinical and social administration field seminar with a global focus. 

We currently offer courses that focus on international social work and social welfare, cross-national comparative perspectives, and the implications of global processes on social work practice. To find courses currently offered in this program, search the course catalog by using the keywords ‘international’ and 'global.' 

Additional courses are offered through other units of the university, including the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights Program, the Harris School of Public Policy, the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Law School, the Booth School of Business, and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. These courses may also be accepted, by petition, as electives that count toward GSDP Program of Study requirements.

Field Placement

Students in the Global Social Development Practice Program of Study must do a GSDP-approved field placement in their second year. GSDP field placements provide students with direct experience working at agencies in Chicago that serve disadvantaged immigrant or refugee populations, advocate for policies that address international social welfare issues, and engage in global social work topics of research. Both social administration and clinical field placements are available.

Abroad Requirement

In addition to the field placement component, GSDP Program of Study students are required to participate in a either a study abroad or international internship expereince over the summer between their first and second year. The Crown Family School offers two study abroad programs: one in Mumbai, India and one in Hong Kong and Mainland China. For international internships, students can apply through the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, consult with GSDP staff, or work independently to secure a social work internship for the summer.

Career Opportunities

Students completing the program will be prepared to assume leadership in the development and provision of policies, programs, and practices that address problems in the international social work arena. These include careers working with migrants and refuges in the United States and in international, national, state, and local social welfare and human services agencies; international advocacy organizations; and firms and non-profit organizations that engage in global social work initiatives.


Jessica Darrow, Associate Instructional Professor
Director, Global Social Development Practice Programs