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Development, Climate, and Sustainability

Focus on issues of development, poverty reduction, energy, environment, and climate change.


Develop advanced skills and expertise to address complex development and environmental global challenges.

Global Food Systems and Policy

This course is designed to help students examine food policy and the political landscape of food in high-, middle-, and low-income countries.

Ensuring food security for the growing, global population is a grand challenge and one that has many contentious issues. Conflicts regarding land, technology, natural resources, subsidies, inequity, and trade are all being played out in the food policy arena. Some argue, that to effectively address food security, global food systems must be efficient, equitable, and sustainable. However, the political framing of how food systems are designed, function, and governed are determined by a complex set of networks of individuals and institutions with vested interests. This course will expand students’ knowledge of global food systems and the policies that impact global food security, human nutrition, and broader aspects of health, food safety, economics, and the environment. Students who take this course will analyze both domestic and international food policy processes along with the key players involved in global food governance.

Climate Change: Science, Economics, Politics

Climate change is anticipated to have catastrophic impacts on the planet and on human civilization over the coming century and beyond.

Sea-level rise is expected to have severe consequences on coastal communities; weather extremes such as droughts, heat waves, and hurricanes are expected to intensify; and the combination of these impacts with warming temperatures is expected to influence human activities from agriculture to the development and maintenance of energy systems. Globally, scientists have come to a consensus that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities contribute to present trends in climate. Students will acquire a firm grounding in climate science, mitigation options, economics, and politics that they can leverage at SAIS and throughout their careers. Join us for a lively course on how policymakers and society have addressed this challenge up to now and options into the future, accounting for interactions with the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Classroom sessions will involve lectures, seminar discussions, and active learning (e.g., simulations of international climate negotiations).

Humanitarianism, Aid, and Politics

Over the past 20 years, the attention given to the humanitarian consequences of conflict has grown considerably, not least due to advances in media technology.

These consequences are multiple and transnational: civilian casualties, insecurity and human rights abuses, population displacement and attendant health impacts, food insecurity, damage to traditional political and economic structures—what some have called “development in reverse”. The human toll of these conflicts--sometimes fueled by natural resources such as oil, water, land, diamonds, timber, or poppy-- has placed substantial public pressure on donor governments and aid agencies to respond with ever more rapid and effective assistance. The resulting relief programs in turn carry real political repercussions, locally and internationally. The course examines these political repercussions. It provides a foundation for understanding the context of conflict and humanitarian crises, laying out such components as the nature of conflict, forced migration, humanitarian law, how the international aid community functions, and the use of militaries in humanitarian interventions. It also follows current trends in humanitarian action, tracking the role and use of Western aid agencies, the changes arising from counter terrorism policies, and the dynamics of specific crises

Improving Service Delivery in Developing Countries

Basic services such as drinking water, sanitation, solid waste management, and public transport are essential to development, yet in many countries their provision remains extremely problematic.

In this course, we review the main challenges to effective and reliable service delivery, roles of key players, and how these roles have been changing over time. We begin by discussing the role of the state in service provision, why some services are harder to provide, or some populations more difficult to serve. Next, we focus on four sectors: drinking water, sanitation, solid waste, and public transport. We will discuss problems specific to each sector, policies and programs used to address these challenges, to what extent they have been successful and why, and what approaches may work in the future. We will highlight innovations in service delivery: clearer incentives for regular service provision, strengthening municipal financing, and integrating the private sector and communities into service provision. Students will study the costs associated with service delivery; service delivery planning; tools used for benchmarking utilities; and innovations in financing services.


Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Jessica Fanzo

Interim Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and International Research Cooperation, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Food Ethics and Policy, Director of the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program

Johannes Urpelainen

Director and Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment, Founding Director, Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP)

Marco Dell'Aquila

Senior Adjunct Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment

Deborah Bräutigam

Bernard L. Schwartz Professor in International Political Economy, Director of China-Africa Research Initiative

In the News

Tucker Carlson is stirring up hatred of America.

Anne Applebaum wrote in The Atlantic, 11/02

Lebanon is dragged back into eye of Iranian-Saudi storm.

Sanam Vakil quoted in Daily Mail, 11/01

China has started making the same mistakes as the Soviets.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 10/27

An open letter in defense of democracy.

Eliot A. Cohen cited in The New Republic, 10/27

Woodrow Wilson and the Great War.

Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman hosted Shield of the Republic podcast, 10/26

Four measures that are helping Germany beat COVID.

Yascha Mounk wrote in The Atlantic, 10/26

Climate realism.

Francis Fukuyama wrote in American Purpose, 10/25