In international development studies, you'll learn about the factors that contribute to global hunger, poverty, and oppression. Discover how you can build a world in which every human being has the opportunity to flourish.

Equipping agents of renewal

The statistics can be jarring: 1.2 billion people struggle to make ends meet on less than $1.25 a day, while an additional 2.7 billion do it on less than $2.50 per day. At Calvin, we want to give you the skills and the knowledge to do something about it.

With an interdisciplinary array of courses, experiential off-campus learning, community development internships, vocational retreats, and an annual Faith and International Development Conference, Calvin's IDS program prepares you be a servant of God in a global context. Many graduates go on to work in fields such as community health, environmental science, and international law.

Combine Topics

Many students also choose to pair their IDS studies with a specialization in another field such as business, international relations, or political science.
If you have a particular area of interest, talk to your advisor about how it might fit with IDS.

More about us

Frequently asked questions

What is international development?

International development studies (IDS) is a multidisciplinary program that addresses the question of how to build a world in which everyone can eat, work, live well, be respected, and, in general, thrive. IDS works to understand the world’s brokenness, manifested by global poverty and inequality, injustices of all sorts, corruption, violence and war, environmental degradation, sickness and disease, and gender and racial divisions. It follows up on this by studying pathways to shared prosperity, good governance, reconciliation and peacebuilding, health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability, or, in a word, shalom.

How is IDS different from international relations (IR)?

IDS focuses on the parts of the world where people are poor, suffering, marginalized, and vulnerable. It is especially concerned with nations of the Global South and how they grow and change over time. IR, on the other hand, focuses primarily on the interactions and relationships of governments and non-state actors among all countries of the world, including those among such developed countries as, for example, Japan, France, and the USA. Another key difference is that IDS is a multidisciplinary program while IR is a political science subfield.

What are some of the unique features of Calvin’s IDS program?

Calvin’s IDS program has a wonderful community of students and alumni. Under the leadership of the Student Planning Council (SPC), students gather periodically during the year for meet and greet events, potluck suppers, picnics, and vocational events. All IDS majors participate on an off-campus semester in the Global South, most often in Ghana and Honduras. A semester-long, Global South internship with World Renew is another option. The IDS community is especially proud of our annual Faith and International Development Conference (FIDC), a student-directed and managed conference featuring speakers with practical experience in the field, 25-30 sponsoring organizations, and 20-30 breakout sessions.

What can I do with an IDS degree?

The short answer is almost anything, but a better answer might be simply to mention that our graduates have gone on to work for the following organizations:

  • World Bank
  • World Vision
  • Samaritan's Purse
  • Mennonite Central Committee
  • International Justice Mission
  • Plant With Purpose
  • World Renew
Find out the specifics of what our alumni have done.

Explore international development studies

Explore the variety of IDS-related fields students have pursued.

Non-governmental Organizations

Find organizations to partner with in future, as well as other development resources.

Off-campus Programs

Explore the different study-abroad semesters you will participate in as a part of your international development studies.

Department Info

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