Author: Jessica Coates
Date: February 19, 2013
Categories: Academics|Intercultural Studies

Houghton College has enhanced its strong commitment to global engagement with the addition of a new major in international development.

Housed in the Department of Intercultural Studies, the new major will prepare students for international service in (or related to) developing countries.

“The new international development major will allow students to focus on development from a cultural perspective and gain valuable knowledge and skills,” said Marcus Dean, chair for the department of intercultural studies. 

Dean also stated, “We believe our program will not only prepare students academically, but also enable them to move quickly, post-graduation, into development fields.”

This interdisciplinary major will be paired with one of several others to help Houghton students become fully prepared for wherever their career may lead, domestic or abroad. The possible double majors include: business, political science, sociology, art, communication, and religion. Houghton also can provide important collateral programs in fields such linguistics, TESOL, missions, and Islamics.  With this dual major, students will have the ability to map out a degree that will fit into a niche that isn’t being readily filled by many higher educational institutions at this time.

The addition of the major follows on a growing list of international development endeavors that have taken Houghton students and faculty to various parts of the world.  For several years, Houghton’s internationally experienced  faculty have provided students with opportunities for field-based study that strongly complement the classroom, connecting theory and practice, working with agencies such as MAP International (a global Christian health organization) and World Hope International (a Christian development agency).  For example, Ndunge Kiiti, associate professor intercultural studies, routinely takes students to Bolivia or Ecuador to participate in development programs grounded in community health.  Professor of Political Science Ron Oakerson has taken students to Sierra Leone, where they participated in creating, implementing, and evaluating a village-based economic development program for subsistence farmers.  These opportunities have also helped students wrestle with the critical link between grassroots realities and the policy making process.

Caitlin Wittemore ’10 said, “Houghton prepared me well for my current work in global health and international development.  The emphasis on experiential learning and study abroad brings relevance to my daily interactions with people from other countries and cultures and my understanding of international development programs on the ground.”

Additionally, the department facilitates student participation in numerous development related conferences, including the Cornell Institute for African Development Annual Symposium in Ithaca, New York, and the Faith and the International Development Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The new major will draw on these strengths to create a powerful program of preparation for development practice.  Employment opportunities with both governmental and non-governmental agencies are numerous in the U.S., Canada, Europe and around the world, including many private agencies with an explicitly Christian perspective.

Housed in the department of intercultural studies, the new major will prepare students for international service in (or related to) countries mainly in the Global South.  Students will also be able to use their knowledge and skills in domestic contexts.

Charlotte Keniston ‘07 has worked in a number of places stretching from Thailand and Tanzania to southwest Baltimore.  “I’m thankful for the sensitive cultural training I received at Houghton. My professors taught me how to approach communities with questions, not answers, and that’s a lesson that has served me well.”

More information about the new program can be found online at