Recognizing the proven leadership of campus faculty and students in addressing climate change, poverty and public health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in May selected the University of California, Berkeley, as one of 10 universities worldwide to launch a new master’s degree program in development practice.

UC Berkeley and UC Davis were the only two U.S. universities given MacArthur grants to set up the program. They — and eight universities outside the United States also selected — are now part of a global network of 20 schools offering advanced degrees in sustainable development practices. Last year, five U.S. and five international universities became the first to join the network. UC Berkeley will receive $800,000 to support the program.

The Berkeley program will provide rigorous, cross-disciplinary professional training for future leaders in sustainable development, enrolling 50 students in a two-year master’s degree program that will welcome its first 25 students in fall 2011. It will be housed in the College of Natural Resources and combine the work of faculty across the campus in fields including engineering, business, public health and public policy.

The campus’s success in establishing innovative programs and institutes that cut across diverse disciplines — including the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program and the Blum Center for Developing Economies — coupled with the strong interest of about 200 UC Berkeley faculty and hundreds of students in pursuing sustainable development studies, contributed to its selection by the MacArthur Foundation, said David Zilberman, professor of agricultural and resource economics in the College of Natural Resources. Zilberman helped spearhead the effort to establish the program on campus.

Read the full NewsCenter release by José Rodríguez.

David Zilberman
David Zilberman, a spearhead for the development-practice master's program, earned his Ph.D. at Berkeley in 1979, and has been on the faculty here since that year. On his homepage, he says, "I appreciate development. I grew up in Israel when it was a 'developing country.' My father was chopping wood once a week so we could take a warm shower. We got our first radio when I was 10, but by the time I was 22 I was working in a very sophisticated computer company. During this period the country made a quantum leap and to me it was associated with the emergence of new generations of competent managers and experts, mostly locally trained by teachers who studied abroad. I moved to Berkeley to do my Ph.D. ion agricultural economics and I was assigned to a project on dairy waste. Studying cow manure wasn't my dream when I applied to Berkeley, but actually it was my golden opportunity."