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Development Starts With Us.  

Our commitment to Cornell’s mission of knowledge with a public purpose has always guided our work. Founded in 1915 as the first rural sociology department in the United States, we have built a lasting legacy of pioneering research and leadership in development studies. From our roots researching the social organization of a predominantly rural American society, our scope has grown to include the diverse ways in which development influences the shape of human life.

With backgrounds from across the social sciences, our faculty conducts research on diverse aspects of development, including governance, population dynamics, environmental change, and food systems. We are renowned globally for our contributions to areas of specialization that include demographic transitions; gender, health, and development; education policy; and the politics of food and land use.

Our undergraduate program and MS/PhD program offer interdisciplinary and transformative educational experiences. We provide close mentorship and opportunities for active, engaged and experiential learning for the next generation of change-makers and cutting-edge researchers.

Our research informs and shapes scientific and policy debates in universities, think tanks, and governments. We are also dedicated to working with communities to actualize change at the local level. In addition to engaged and applied research, we host adult education programs, capacity-building workshops, and teaching institutes designed to enable community development in New York State.