Governance and Development Policy (GDP)

Why study Governance and Development Policy?

  • In an era of media saturation and hyper-partisanship, how do we engage with contemporary governance challenges and frame policy responses to address societal needs and our world crises? 
  • How do governments engage with public, private, and civil-society actors to develop workable solutions to societal problems? 
  • How are initiatives and programmes really designed in today’s complex policy world? How do governance and policy actors engage with local development and act in times of crisis? 

These are the questions that animate the Major in Governance and Development Policy (GDP).

The GDP Major prepares students to study and work on governance at the local, national, and international levels and to provide meaningful inputs to policy-making and reform strategies. It strives for a balance between theoretical knowledge, critical thinking, and practice-oriented tools and skills to enable our students to work in academia, research, or as practitioners development in the fields of governance, policy-making, civil society intervention, NGOs, and humanitarian action. 

The GDP Major is interdisciplinary and draws on insights derived from policy studies, political science, economics, management, sociology, human geography, and humanitarian and disaster studies. Using a political economy perspective which recognizes that relations of power and influence are inherent features that direct and constrain policy action, the GDP Major engages with the nature and stages of policy making, from conception to policy evaluation. It sees political life as mobilisation to problems and opportunities in any given context. It explores concrete governance elements such as capacity, leadership, inequalities, participation, employment, income generation, corruption, representation, and accountability. It delivers instruments to consider social forces, ideologies and interests and go beyond merely technical-rational solutions. 

The Major courses also teach project design, development, and evaluation; everyday and local practice; and provide access to a diversity of research and practice-oriented skills and methods to prepare participants to become effective actors in policy processes. Drawing on a diversity of real-life examples, encounters with professionals in the field, and a case-based pedagogy, it seeks to connect theory and real-world applications in the learning process of our students. Many of our courses also include field visits and opportunities to engage with various organizations in the fields of development, humanitarianism, governance, and policy-making.

After completing the Major, participants will be familiar with the analysis of governance processes from the local to the global level. They will be able to work on and research a combination of political processes and provide meaningful inputs to governance, policy-making and project design and evaluation.

GDP in a flash

Governance and Development Policy

GDP overlapping areas of expertise

  • Public policy - the nature and practices of public sector institutions and organizations as well as public sector reform.
  • Local development strategies - policies and politics with a focus on local economic development and the scope for communities to engage in collective and state focused action.
  • Humanitarian action and disasters governance - how societies prepare, respond and recover from crises related to conflict, disaster or fragility, resulting many times in large humanitarian crises
  • The state, private sector and civil society in governance processes - interactions of governments, private enterprises, development organizations and communities and their strategies towards challenges and opportunities.
  • Policy and projects analysis and design - design,  evaluation and formulation of policies and projects, considering factors such as feasibility, impact assessment, stakeholder engagement, governance,  and sustainability measures.

Revisit the 2024 GDP webinar

Governance and Development Policy webinar session 2024

Target group

This Major offers essential insights for people interested and/or involved in the analysis or practices of multi-actor governance, policy and local economic development processes in relation to socioeconomic development. 

It targets people occupying or aspiring careers in local or national governments, in development organisations, NGOs, universities and the private sector.


Students who wish to specialize further within the context of the Major may choose to follow one of two specializations: 

  • Governance of local development and humanitarian crises (GoLDH)
  • Public Policy and Projects Management (PPM)

Beyond the GDP specializations, students can combine their Major training with other specializations from across ISS. Take a look at the current list of specializations on offer

What our students say about GDP

If you value a universally diverse atmosphere, are not just able but thoroughly enjoy debating and learning from controversial opinions, and can empathise deeply, ISS might just be for you.

GDP team and student representatives

The GDP team brings together a diversity of disciplines and expertise to the Major educational journey. Our team members combine academic work with years of consultancy and practical experience in various organizations, bringing not only multiple viewpoints and experiences to the classroom but also enriching the learning experience and networks that the Major can offer.

  • dr. (Rodrigo) R Mena Fluhmann

    I am an Assistant Professor of Disasters and Humanitarian Studies, also serving as the Deputy Director of the Humanitarian Studies Centre (HSC) and Coordinator…
    dr. (Rodrigo) R Mena Fluhmann
  • dr. (Marijn) M Faling

    Marijn is Assistant Professor at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research focuses on collaborative change…
    dr. (Marijn) M Faling
  • dr. (Georgina) GM Gomez

    I am fascinated by the diversity of forms of organising local economic governance. My interests focus on patterns of collaboration and competition around the…
    dr. (Georgina) GM Gomez
  • (Thea) DJM Hilhorst

    I am an expert in development in areas affected by disaster, conflict or fragility, with a special focus on aid-society relations: the impact of humanitarian… (Thea) DJM Hilhorst
  • prof.dr. (Peter) P Knorringa

    Peter Knorringa is a Professor of Private Sector & Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His…
    prof.dr. (Peter) P Knorringa
  • dr. (Farhad) F Mukhtarov

    Mukhtarov is Assistant Professor of Governance and Public Policy at the International Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam…
    dr. (Farhad) F Mukhtarov
  • dr. (Sunil) S Tankha

      Sunil Tankha is Assistant Professor of States, Societies and World Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus…
    dr. (Sunil) S Tankha
  • dr. (Sylvia) SI Bergh

    I am an associate professor in development management and governance at ISS. I currently combine my position at ISS with the position of senior researcher at…
    dr. (Sylvia) SI Bergh
  • prof.dr. (Shuaib) S Lwasa

    prof.dr. (Shuaib) S Lwasa
  • dr. (Kaira Zoe) KZ Canete

    Dr. Kaira Zoe Alburo-Cañete is a Filipino feminist scholar with training in Anthropology and Critical Development Studies. She is currently Senior Researcher at…
    dr. (Kaira Zoe) KZ Canete
  • dr. (Sonja) S Fransen

    I am a Senior Researcher at the Humanitarian Studies Centre (, researching and teaching on issues regarding…
    dr. (Sonja) S Fransen

Student reps

  • Priscila Condori Cosme

    I’m an economist from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), with most of my professional experience in the public sector of my country. I have worked in different government institutions like the Education and Transportation Ministries. There I gained knowledge in the planning, budgeting, policy analysis and design fields

    Priscila Cndori Cosme
  • Adilet Akmatbaev

    I am originally a Business Administration graduate of the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich. Having a great personal interest in development work, I dedicated the past years to working within the sector for two organizations with varying approaches: the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Bread for the World (BftW). These opportunities allowed me to learn both the grand notions of development pursued through policy and the power of local initiatives to address our most pressing challenges. 

    I see the GDP major as an important stepping stone in my personal development. It not only provides a profound academic experience but its internationality parallels the reality of the development domain. The different backgrounds, cultures and perspectives help me view the world through different angles, and push me to think outside the box

    Adilet Akmatbaev
  •  Linda Akua Ampommea Bonsra

    I have a diploma in Early Childhood Development from University of Cape Coast, Ghana and taught in both government and private  schools for over twelve years. My career as a teacher gave me more insights in the educational system and parenthood.After years of teaching, I was promoted to the Administration to work as an administrator at Mount Eye International School,whilst attending evening school at Ghana Institute of Management and  Public Administration where I graduated with BA in Public Administration . After graduation, I worked a while at the Administration unit of the National Communications Authority Accra, Ghana.

    Linda Akua Ampommea Bonsra
  • Rahmat Putra Marsaoli

    I graduated from Unviersitas Gadjah Mada with a BA in political science. I had 3.5 years working experience with the Ministry of National and Development Planning of Indonesia as policy analyst. My role has provided me with the opportunity to contribute my policy experience towards Indonesia’s development planning challenge and policy options. 

    Studying GDP at ISS has taught me a critical overview of how to develop systems of change. I love the diversity of discussion in the classroom that challenges us through critical reasoning and collaborative learning. 

    Rahmat Putra Marsaoli

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