Course Descriptions

A total of thirteen (13) courses worth three credits each are necessary to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Arts in Community Development Policy and Practice program (39 credits total). This includes ten (10) required courses and three (3) elective courses as follows:

Required Courses (10):

Economic Analysis for Development - DPP 902

Instructor: Jillann Fitzsimmons

This course provides the practitioner with tools of economic analysis that are necessary for effective development practice. Drawing upon principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics, the course explores how markets, property rights, political institutions, government policies, environmental conditions and cultural values interact to produce development outcomes.

Environmental Sciences and Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities and Development - DPP 909

Instructor: Paul Kirshen

Achieving sustainability requires that consideration be given to meeting present and future human needs and respecting “triple bottom line” economic, social, and environmental goals. In this course, we provide the necessary background in the environmental sciences so that development practitioners can understand the environmental consequences of development and, moreover, how environmental services directly support human needs. Since communities also need constructed facilities, known as infrastructure, that support and shelter human activities, the course also provides a review of several important types of infrastructure systems, their interactions with the social, economic, natural environments, and how they can be designed and managed to support sustainable development and communities. By the end of the course, the student will understand (1) the role of environmental considerations in sustainable communities and development and (2) the management of several major sustainable infrastructure systems in the industrialized, non-industrialized, and in-transition worlds.

Topics include the following:

  • Sustainable Infrastructure: Role of infrastructure in hindering and/or supporting sustainable communities and development, sustainability evaluation systems, Life Cycle Assessment.
  • Ecosystems Functions: Process-based, holistic view of the environment, including: habitat, local flora and fauna, biodiversity, conservation, ecosystem change, resilience, vulnerability, and adaptation. Ecosystem services, approaches to legal protection, and restoration will also be examined.
  • Hydrology and Water Resources Uses and Management: The hydrologic cycle, surface and ground waters, instream and offstream uses such as water supply (municipal, industrial, irrigation), power plant cooling, waste disposal, recreation, spiritual, navigation, hydropower, ecosystems and environmental impacts, basic design and planning principles such as Darcy’s law, Manning’s equation, energy-water nexus, Integrated Water Resources Management (IRWM) , Integrated Water Planning (IWP), local and global stresses.
  • Energy: Demands, renewable and non-renewable generation, transmission, distribution, basic design principles, the associated economic, social, environmental and health impacts, GHG emissions and management.
  • Transportation: Modes, planning and design, impacts, particularly on air quality.
  • Climate Change: Causes, impacts, adaptation planning.
  • Global Food Systems: The multitude of factors that influence access to food of sufficient quantity and quality for both urban and rural populations.
  • Smart Growth: Goals and the Planning Process.

Fiscal Management for Development Organizations - DPP 905

Instructor: Robby Vanrijkel

This course is geared towards building financial management capacity at all levels within a community development organization. It is not just for accountants, finance officers, and/or finance managers. While at one level, some basic financial skills are needed to keep accounting records and provide financial information that is required by law, financial management capacity can be achieved by non-finance people as well and is essential for the success of an organization.

The aim of this course is to ensure that there are sufficient and effective internal controls in place within the organization to facilitate sound management over resources, management, and administrative duties within your organization. This course will assist in establishing good financial practices needed to build a strong organization capable of implementing effective programs. It will cover the following topics:

  • Planning
  • Tracking funds by different donors/programs
  • Financial Reporting
  • Building sound internal controls within your organization
    • US Government (USG) rules and regulations and how they pertain to financial management of NGOs
  • Sub-granting

Integrative Approaches to Development Policy and Practice - DPP 901

Instructors: Joe Lugalla, Michael Swack

This course aims to provide students with a general introduction to the basic core competencies and practical skills required of a “generalist” development practitioner and serves as the foundation course for the curriculum. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the interconnectedness of natural sciences and engineering, social science, health sciences, and management, especially as they relate to communities. In the first part of the course, faculty will present case studies related to their own experience and lead students in an exploration of the various interrelated dimensions of development practice. In the second part, students will work in multidisciplinary teams, using the primary natural and social science literature, available economic, demographic, and ecological data, and current information from government agencies and the popular press to describe and define the practical problems facing a specific community within their historic, ecological, cultural, economic, and policy context. Throughout the course, we will also examine development practice within the context of various development theories, controversies, and debates.

By successfully completing this course, students will

  1. Develop a shared understanding of the problem areas
  2. Cultivate a familiarity with and understanding of the terminology, practices, and methods of disciplines outside those they have brought to the program
  3. Explore the challenges and possibilities of chronically poor communities
  4. Be able to articulate the difference between disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary approaches to development problems and the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches
  5. Gain experience working as a team to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of communities and ecosystems and to develop overarching policy and practice questions framing various development approaches
  • Understand the core concepts and technical skills required to solve professional problems within the field of sustainable development
  • Develop practical problem-solving skills through the analysis and diagnosis of complex development challenges
  • Develop a spirit of collaboration both inside and outside the classroom through increased communication skills and social networking tools in order to prepare them for such environments in the professional world of development practice
  • Be able to identify, create, and reflect upon “integrated approaches” and appropriate interventions that may lead to poverty alleviation and sustainable development

Course topics will be grounded in a practical, multidisciplinary approach that will focus on the inter-relationship of each of the following core fields of study:

  • Health Sciences — Primary health and nutrition
  • Natural Sciences — Agriculture, climate change, energy, engineering, environmental sciences, including biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, technology, and water
  • Social Sciences — Economics, education, ethics, gender, policy and foreign aid
  • Management — Project management, community development, global cooperation and governance

Leadership, Collaboration and Communication - DPP 906

Instructors: Jim Varn, Bill Maddocks

This course examines theories, concepts, research, and practices in collaborative leadership. The course is designed to promote creative and innovative policy leadership among emerging leaders in sustainable development and the environment and is directly connected to competency IV Management, including leadership, collaboration, communication, and ethics.

By successfully completing this course students will:

  1. Increase self awareness—unique qualities of one’s own leadership style
  2. Explore new research and literature on leadership and policy advocacy through books, articles and internet searches
  3. Cultivate a broad range of strategies to accomplish policy goals, including effective negotiation and communication strategies
  4. Understand strategies to harness resources (people, funds, etc.) to move policy agendas
  5. Practice taking risks, gaining experience with ambiguity, chaos, confusion, and change, within one’s organization and community
  6. Deepen understanding and use of cultural competency skills
  7. Apply new knowledge through an individual or collaborative team policy project
  8. Apply ethical considerations to policy decisions

Policy Analysis, Policymaking and Sustainable Development - DPP 908

Instructor: Stacy VanDeveer

This seminar will reinforce the multidisciplinary breadth and trans-disciplinary perspective of the program, providing students with the opportunity to sharpen critical policy analysis skills. Guest speakers will be specifically selected to highlight international and intercultural dimensions of development policy challenges. Students will be evaluated based on engagement and on a final policy paper in which they analyze a key policy issue facing their home country. The goal of this course is to help students understand the sources of public policy, that is, why we have various public policies and to how to produce professional policy analysis whether you are working for decision maker in government, an NGO, or the private sector. Developing policy expertise requires general understanding of policymaking and policy analysis approaches and the ability to apply these in differing institutional contexts. These tend to be messy, imprecise and dynamic across time and issue areas. Students will learn how to produce professional analyses, focused on specific policy questions and goals applicable to specific country.

Project Design - DPP 980

Instructors: Curt Grimm, Bill Kaschak, Jolan Rivera

Project 1 (first semester): During this semester, students will identify a community problem or issue, research and analyze the issue in consultation with colleagues and community stakeholders, and design a project. A preliminary project design will be submitted at the end of the first semester.

Project Implementation - DPP 981

Instructor: Jolan Rivera, Sanjeev Sharma

Students will begin implementation activities in field placement communities. Regular progress reports and online postings will be required.

Project Management - DPP 982

Instructor: Jolan Rivera, Sanjeev Sharma

Studies how project plan inputs are accurately gathered, integrated, documented and managed; the tools and techniques used in project management; and the outputs of a project plan to viable stakeholders. Considers the development of project scope, work breakdown structures, and the importance of quality, risk, and contingency management in planning development.

Project Monitoring and Evaluation - DPP 983

Instructor: Jolan Rivera, Sanjeev Sharma

This semester, students will conduct and evaluation of their project and manage closure processes. At the end students will submit a written final report and present it to the faculty and peers. This final project and the final report detailing the project will serve as the capstone course of the program.

[planned for 2013-2014] Law and Development (elective)

This course provides an overview of the relationship between law and development work and some of the basic legal issues facing development practitioners. The course will touch on the historical use and impact of the law, aspects of property and corporations law, and some basic issues of planning law. The course will also focus on general tax law issues; economic development policy including the Community Reinvestment Act, credit issues and microlending; and constitutional issues in community control of benefits.

Elective Courses (3):

Balancing Resource Management, Land Use and Development - DPP 952

Instructors: Charlie French, Joel Hartter

Without an understanding of the dynamics behind land-use change—including human behaviors, the need for people to meet their basic needs, the role of decision-makers and institutions (including corporations), baseline land cover conditions, local-global policy frameworks, as well as interactions among these and other factors—we cannot come to understand changes in land cover, nor can we estimate the utility of policy intervention.

The most critical element in land use is the human agent. It is the agent (an individual, household, or institution) that takes specific actions, according to their own decision rules, which drive land-use change and, in turn, change the physical landscape. Furthermore, landscapes are not simply agglomerations of individual pieces (for example, vegetation, buildings, roads, water bodies), but rather, they are collections of environmental, socio-economic, and institutional components interacting within and among one another at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The landscape is better examined as a whole.

By studying the whole landscape and learning the land use context (forms, history, scale, etc.), we can move beyond narrow prescriptions to larger, place-appropriate development strategies that meet the livelihood needs of people. Successful solutions are attained by balancing the long- and short-term needs as well as the intended and unintended consequences. In this course, we will explore how land use, resource management, and development are balanced within the context of three case studies: Africa, Central America, and New England, USA. Students will apply the methods and concepts learned in the class to develop a local New Hampshire case study/policy analysis.

Community Development Finance - DPP 961

Please see the Community Development Finance certificate page for more details...

Community Medicine and Epidemiology - DPP 953

Instructor: Rosemary Caron

This course covers nutrition, reproductive health, environmental health, women's health, child health, complex humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters, global partnerships, and how we assess these public health issues by using the science of public health called Epidemiology.

Current Issues in Microfinance and Microenterprise Development - DPP 950

Instructor: Michael Swack

Course topics cover a wide range of best practices from financial, risk, and human resource management, social performance monitoring and management, value chain and Pro Poor market development, social enterprise, savings groups led microfinance, and sustainable responses to climate change.

The course maintains a commitment to providing highly relevant and effective practitioner training for programs for mid- to upper-level managers, board members, government officials, donors, and others working in microfinance, enterprise and value chain development, and other non-profit and for-profit economic and business development organizations and initiatives.

The course features a diverse and extremely talented faculty of some of the most regarded practitioner experts in the broad microfinance and enterprise development fields. Many of the faculty have published extensively, teach in other training programs such as the Boulder MFT and the School of Applied Microfinance, and are viewed as leaders in the development field.

Environmental Sustainability and Development - DPP 904

Instructor: Mark Ducey

Provide students working at a graduate level but lacking specific background in ecology with an applied perspective on challenges at the interface of rural development and environmental science. By the end of the course students should be conversant in the languages of large-scale ecosystem ecology and conservation biology, and should have a basic working knowledge of the science of carbon and climate change, land use change and deforestation, and the impacts of land use on biodiversity and water quantity/quality.

Financing Development - DPP 958

This course examines the role of capital in promoting development. The course details the need for and importance of capital for development activities, the nature and limitations of traditional private and public sources of capital, and the policies and institutions needed to increase the availability and effective use of capital for development purposes. The course examines various sources of capital (public and private, traditional and non-traditional) and the benefits and problems associated with using each source. The course will also examine various types of capital, financial instruments, and address the difficulties and problems of financial packaging. Finally, the course will examine specific models and mechanisms (Community Development Financial Institutions) for financing community economic development projects and ventures. We will also review a number of case studies throughout the course, including specific cases brought by the participants.

Global Health - DPP 903

Instructor: Rosemary Caron

An analysis of the public policy process, the development of public health policy in developing countries, and a discussion of specific public health policy issues with cross-country comparisons. This course begins with an analytical framework for analyzing a public health system and process. It is followed by a general introduction to effective health policies in developing countries with examples of specific policies and programs that have been effective.

Housing Development - DPP 956

This course covers market analysis and housing needs assessments, site selection and control, financial feasibility reports, the selection of a development team, methods of obtaining approval from various government entities, identification of private and public funding and subsidies, and various forms of ownership, including cooperatives and land trusts. Students also learn about the policy framework for affordable housing development, and the legal, institutional, economic, political and environmental factors that shape that framework.

Independent Study - DPP 990

This course allows students to study a unique topic in-depth that is not offered as a traditional course. Please contact your advisor with your specific topic of interest to obtain approval to proceed with enrollment and determine the requirements for course completion.

Negotiation Strategies - DPP 957

Instructor: Michael Swack

This course will help participants develop a “method” for preparing and carrying out negotiations across a range of community development situations. This course will also examine important negotiations issues for the community development practitioner such as: valuing non-financial assets; negotiating with larger, more powerful entities; and, dealing with uncooperative parties. The course will focus on case studies and debriefing as the primary learning technique. Participants will examine their assumptions about negotiations and work to improve their negotiating skills.

Nuts and Bolts of Microfinance - DPP 951

Instructor: Malcolm Harper

This course is designed to provide the participant with an overall understanding of the microfinance institutions including management, planning and monitoring strategies, tools and systems. Sessions will seek to develop skills and capacity to examine various areas, such as competition, expansion, growth, product development, service delivery and human resource, marketing, and information management systems.

Sexuality and HIV/SIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa - DPP 955

Instructor: Joe Lugalla

This course brings together a range of different social science perspectives on HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. During the course we will discuss the history of AIDS in Africa; the social, economic, political, cultural and biological contexts in which HIV/AIDS was able to spread so rapidly on the continent, especially in Eastern and Southern Africa. HIV/AIDS appeared in African societies at a time of social and economic transformations, we will discuss how HIV/AIDS can be interpreted as part of these transformations, as well as the profound effects HIV/AIDS itself have had on families, kinship, moralities and notions of gender and sexualities. The AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa has also been the center of international attention and intervention. The course deals with how HIV/AIDS in Africa has been conceptualized as a problem of international development interventions and of global health governance; we will discuss how representations of ‘African AIDS’ are connected to a longer history of representing Africa, how to analyze global and local interventions to address the AIDS epidemic in the context of international & national politics and economics, and how the international AIDS interventions and discourses have fed into and influenced local political, moral and cultural debates on how to address the AIDS epidemic.

Social Enterprise - DPP 960

Instructors: Yusi Turell, Fiona Wilson

Social Enterprise is a course examining innovative organizations that are created to improve people's lives and that contribute to improved social, economic and environmental conditions. These organizations adapt various aspects of the market model emphasizing both financial viability and social (including environmental) goals—measuring achievement in all of the areas. Social enterprises are often launched to address problems where government, the private sector and the traditional non-profit sector fail to provide a public good. The course emphasis will be on how such organizations are started, the business models they develop, and how they are sustained. We will have a wide-range of social entrepreneurs presenting in the class.

The class will focus on case studies that give students an understanding of various approaches to social enterprise and illustrate the general strengths and weaknesses of different social enterprise business models. The course will examine a number of social enterprises, including for-profit, non-profit and cooperative models. Students will become familiar with real-life organizations and entrepreneurs through the case method and guest lecturers who will describe their own experiences as social entrepreneurs, and by examining and analyzing a specific social enterprise.

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems - DPP 954

Instructor: Drew Conroy

The course reviews the historical, ecological, economic, social and political aspects of agricultural sustainability principles and practices. Examines the sustainability of various agricultural systems and practices. Examines specific commodity chains—vegetables, grains, meat—in comparative global context. Reviews general concepts governing the functioning of tropical agro-ecosystems in relation to resource availability, ecological sustainability, and socio-economic viability.

Sustainable Engineering for Development Practice - DPP 907

Instructors: Kevin Gardner, Kalle Matso

Course begins with exploration of the precept that we live in a world where we must design and engineer products with a finite supply of natural resources, and with limited life support capacity. Tools for sustainability engineering related to development practice (for example, health, energy, housing) are the major focus of the course, which include life cycle, analysis and life cycle impact analysis, the metrics and mass and energy flow analysis used in the field of industrial ecology, and environmental management systems.

Workforce Development - DPP 959

Skilled workers are the backbone of a productive and efficient economy. This course explains the relationship between economic and workforce development through case studies, practical examples and current research. Topics include: reviewing the core components of the workforce development system; understanding occupational data analysis and career pathways; assessing qualifications, skills and abilities of current workforce; recruitment and retention of a skilled labor force; target industry clusters; the role of higher education in workforce and economic development; and, new alliances, models and best practices in regional & local workforce initiatives.