Competition for Briefs on Sustainable Development Education: funding available

Submit abstract with a chance of getting $2,000 for a full report.

19 January 2018

The secretariat of the consortium of Master’s in Development Practice Programs (MDP) at the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, NYC, invites abstracts exploring challenges in development education and practice. Abstracts should illuminate a specific issue (and may propose a solution) related to one of the following general themes:

  • What content knowledge is in greatest demand by employers in the development field today? Is demand being met?
  • What skills are in greatest demand by employers in the development field today? Is demand being met?
  • Are graduates of sustainable development programs (or MDP programs) prepared for today’s workforce?
  • Could other programs and degrees (e.g., specializations at the undergraduate and secondary school-level, or joint-degrees at the Master’s level) help meet demand? If so, how?
  • How can access to high quality sustainable development training be improved in the world’s developing and/or developed countries?
  • How can continued professional development be promoted across the field?
  • What should be the role of online education in development education?
  • How should the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals be incorporated into curricula?
  • How are partnerships (particularly in the private sector) helping to move forward the implementation of SDGs and, by association, sustainable development in general?
  • How can sustainable development education be funded?

Contributors may include anyone in the development space: students, alumni and faculty of sustainable development programs; development professionals in private industry or non-profits; government leaders and independent experts. (Please note: student submitters must have a faculty co-author.)

Abstracts must be 300-500 words in English and be submitted online by March 15th. Each abstract may only be submitted once and under one theme. Failure to answer questions on the submission form or the submission of the same abstract under multiple themes is likely to result in the abstract being declined. The Secretariat will notify contributors by April 1st whether their abstracts have been selected or not.

Final Papers

For selected abstracts only, contributors will be given three months to develop a full paper, according to editorial guidelines that will be provided. Finished papers must be 4,000-6,000 words in length (excluding citations) and be submitted online by July 2nd, 2018. Contributors of papers that are submitted on time and according to editorial guidelines will receive a total of US$2,000 per paper, not individually.

Finished papers will help inform the Education for Sustainable Development Report, which will define priorities in sustainable development education for the coming decade. The Secretariat may excerpt or quote papers in the Report (with due reference to authors), or use papers indirectly in shaping the content of the report. All finished papers will be made freely available on the website that will promote and disseminate the Report.

Here is the Master’s in Development Practice Programs (MDP) call for abstracts to explain submission process.


A Commission Report, released in October 2008, emphasized the need for a new type of “generalist practitioner” with cross-disciplinary skills in health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences and management. Based on this report, Columbia University led a consortium of institutions around the world in launching a new degree: Master’s in Development Practice (MDP). The global consortium now consists of 34 MDP programs in 23 countries, and continues to expand. Over 3,500 students have graduated with an MDP degree.

As the 10th anniversary of that landmark Commission Report nears, it’s time to take stock of the state of development education once again. The Secretariat, with guidance from a number of influential thought leaders led by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, will produce a report, to be released in January 2019. The new report will consist of high-level recommendations, and will be useful for a broad audience, including MDP institutions that want to review and update their programs; institutions that are considering adding a program in sustainable development; prospective students who want to understand the direction of development education; and employers across the field that want to hire and re-train staff to meet development goals of the future.

Timeline for submissions:

  • 15 January 2018 Call for Abstracts open
  • 15 March 2018 Deadline for submitting abstracts online
  • 1 April 2018 Abstract decision letter sent by email
  • 2 July 2018 Deadline for full papers (for selected abstracts only)

Education for Sustainable Development Report: call for abstracts


See  ICSD 2017 Columbia University  – Panel: Training Future Leaders on Sustainable Development