Governance and Development Policy (GDP)

Globalization, decentralization and new forms of public-private sector cooperation have changed the ways in which people, organizations and territories are governed. They have also affected the ways in which different actors are able to voice their interests and act upon them.

The Governance and Development Policy (GDP) Major provides students with insights and skills relevant to understanding and affecting governance processes at local and national levels.

The Major addresses the processes and problems of governance, policy and local economic development, and how these work out in the everyday realities of people, with a bias towards the poor and vulnerable. It combines a thorough theoretical understanding with a practical, policy-oriented approach, with attention for concrete governance and policy dimensions such as the role of actors in democracy and public-private-community partnerships, the need for capacity and adequate planning systems, and the detrimental effects of corruption.   

Major themes

  • the way in which processes of governance, wealth creation and democracy relate to issues of participation, equality, accountability, and civil and human rights;

  • the way in which power affects the relations between actors in processes of governance and policy, and in politics from local to global levels;
  • the major factors influencing public policy processes in the current era, the roles of various groups and actors, and the methodologies employed to formulate and evaluate policies;
  • the interactions of governments, private enterprises, development organizations and communities and their strategies towards challenges and opportunities that come with globalization and enhanced competition;
  • the nature and characteristics of institutions through which governance is constructed and reproduced, as well as forms of resistance at local, national or international levels.

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 study reform processes at these various levels, and provide meaningful inputs to policy making and reform strategies.

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.


Within the MA programme students have an option to specialize further. Take a look at the current specializations on offer.

Videos: GDP webinar session 2023 and GDP general trailer

ISS GDP Webinar 2023

Governance and Development Policy

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.

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