Center for Strategic and International Studies Highlights WPI’s Progressive Multidisciplinary Approach to Addressing Development Challenges

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently featured WPI’s innovative leadership in equipping students with the technological knowledge and essential policy and “soft” skills that not only make them “work ready,” but also the kind of responsible global citizens critical to international development and public policy.

The article Preparing International Development Professionals for the Digital Age” delves into the real challenges posed by disruptive digital transformation and the need for students to be prepared such that they will become experts who are able to “discern and manage the threats associated with technology.” The author, Romina Bandura, further clarifies that “professionals will need to learn new skills and gain a deeper understanding of how technology and its applications can be used responsibly to solve global challenges.”  

CSIS describes itself as “a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to advancing practical ideas to address the world’s greatest challenges.” Bandura is a senior fellow with the organization’s Project on Prosperity and Development and the Project on U.S. Leadership in Development. In the article, she outlines the obstacles that, in many cases, are preventing universities from empowering the next generation of development practitioners for the digital age and focuses attention on the importance of “integrating digital courses and training into their curricula.” Bandura further defines strategies and provides successful examples to help universities make gains in and through the areas of leadership engagement, interdisciplinary approaches, and “strong partnerships with companies and development organizations.”

At the top of a list of U.S.-based universities it reads: “The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) offers a multidisciplinary program—the master in science and technology for innovation in global development—that combines technological and scientific innovation with cross-cultural design thinking to address development challenges. Students who come from different disciplines are driven to experiment and conduct projects in developing regions.”

The article also includes a quote from WPI Professor Rob Krueger, Department Head of Social Science and Policy Studies. “Universities must bring together the right partners—inside, outside, and between them—to ensure that this digital revolution captures a range of data sources, cultural views, and local contexts,” he observes.

To prepare students to deal with pressing challenges and create change to impact people and communities around the globe, WPI’s Master's in Science and Technology for Innovation in Global Development focuses on appropriate technology and development, and cross-cultural design thinking. In keeping with the School of Arts and Sciences interdisciplinary nature, this program is an integral part of WPI's Global Initiatives and the work of The Global School. This transdisciplinary team of faculty, researchers, affiliated scholars, students, and volunteers seeks to advance the ways science and technology can solve pressing global problems from the individual to the global level and are committed to building alliances among communities, private sector firms, NGOs, government, and universities from around the world with the goal of bringing together different forms of knowledge to co-create solutions to some of the world’s grand challenges—in such a way that promotes self-sufficiency, community, social responsibility, sustainability, and collaboration.