The GPD training program has three components: coursework, community building, and research & fieldwork. All GPD fellows must complete the core requirements and are expected to be active in community-building activities. GPD trainees are invited to take advantage of the courses and talks offered and are expected to be active in these and other community-building activities.


All fellows are required and trainees are encouraged to fulfill the following:

  • IAPA 2000, the foundational interdisciplinary course
  • One module (short methods courses specifically designed for GPD)
  • Attend the weekly Development and Governance Seminar (DGS)

All fellows are required and trainees are encouraged to fulfill ONE of the following:

  • IAPA 2010, an interdisciplinary field methods course
  • One course outside their home department (not including IAPA 2000).  These should be methods courses or substantive courses related to development.
  • One additional module (short methods courses specifically designed for GPD)
  • Traineeship: Working with a faculty member on a research project (roughly understood to be 10 hrs a week)

Courses and Modules 

IAPA 2000: This course provides an overview of theories, concepts, and debates from the four social science disciplines with respect to inequality and development. The goal is to expose students to the varied conceptual prisms through which each discipline examines development and inequality, including the significantly different ways in which the disciplines measure and evaluate inequality. New approaches to thinking about inequality, including the capabilities approach, relational perspectives in sociology, the emergent literature on participation in political science, and new debates on social exclusion will be emphasized. The course will review state-of-the-art research and emphasize disciplinary complementarities in developing new perspectives on inequality. The course is team-taught.

Fieldwork across disciplines – IAPA 2010: This course draws on the collective fieldwork experience of GPD faculty and visiting research collaborators to expose students to a range of fieldwork challenges and practices. The course is team-taught and is organized around presentations from faculty and visitors conducting research on inequality. In addition to addressing a range of key methodological challenges of fieldwork (case selection, data reliability, linking micro mechanisms to macro phenomena, making sense of context), the course will also address the “nuts and bolts” of fieldwork. This includes developing contacts and networks, dealing with unfamiliar institutional environments, working with collaborators, and handling politically or culturally sensitive issues. The course will also review IRB protocols and address the range of ethical issues that come into play doing fieldwork. The primary student assignment in the course will be to produce a research proposal.

Training modules in research techniques: In order to give trainees exposure to different research techniques, GPD sponsors a number of intensive research modules during the winter break and early summer. The modules include spatial analysis, demographic analysis and survey methods, interviewing and ethnographic methods, and program evaluation. Trainees are required to take at least one module. Modules last one to two weeks and are designed to introduce trainees to a specific technique, identify where/when its use is appropriate, demonstrate some basic applications to the question of inequality, inculcate basic skills in using the technique, and where appropriate review existing sources of data. The modules are designed so that trainees who develop an interest in furthering their skills in a particular technique will be in a position at the end of the module to take more advanced courses.

Community-building Activities

One of the most important objectives of GPD is to build a cross-disciplinary research community of graduate students and faculty with shared interests who actively learn from each other. GPD sponsors three community-building activities.

Development and Governance Seminar: This year-long speaker series hosts Brown faculty, international collaborators, and outside speakers who give public talks on their ongoing research every other week.  View the current speaker list. Alternate weeks are reserved for presentation of research by GPD trainees, including the annual “Back from the Field” forum.

Graduate Student Workshops:  Each year, GPD funds a small number for Graduate Student workshops proposed and run by GPD students.  These focus on selected interdisciplinary themes and bring together a small group of GPD trainees with shared research interests.  Workshop funds support meetings and invited speakers.  For the list of current workshops go to GPD News.

Annual workshops and conferences:  Every year, GPD supports or co-sponsors a number of workshops or conferences that bring researchers to Watson to explore a wide range of themes.

Research and Fieldwork

The GPD program offers all trainees a range of opportunities to work with Brown faculty, visitors, and our collaborating institutions on research projects.

In order to gain research experience, all trainees are encouraged to collaborate with faculty on research projects. In order to provide trainees with field-based research experience, GPD facilitates summer research by providing summer funding for individual projects and organizing research opportunities through collaborating institutions. Each of these partners can integrate trainees into ongoing research projects on inequality.

GPD trainees are encouraged to spend at least one summer in the field. In most cases, this will be after their first or second year of graduate training.  GPD offers summer research grants on a competitive basis.  Only GPD trainees can apply for these grants and are eligible for 2 summers of support.  Summer grants are only for pre-dissertation research.

Sequencing for Trainees and Fellows

Training in the GPD program requires more of students than traditional disciplinary programs. In addition to completing the requirement in their PhD discipline, GPD trainees invest significant effort in moving beyond the domain of their home disciplines to develop multidisciplinary knowledge and skills. Fellowships are designed to provide support for this additional investment. First, with fellowship support for the second or third year, trainees will not work as teaching assistants during this period and will be fully focused on their studies and research.  Second, the two summers of funded fieldwork for which GPD trainees are eligible directly contributes to developing and launching the dissertation research.