This webpage for prospective students of this program is from the first batch of Development Studies students. It is intended to provide an insider's view behind the formal facts and key data indicated on the official program profile page to give you an idea of what this program is all about.
The University's new master's program in Development Studies deals with the economic and social development of countries from an interdisciplinary perspective. Questions like: 'What should the right development measures look like?' or 'Which policies should we focus on?' are discussed and analysed in-depth. It is not about the classical form of development aid, it's about the economic integration of developing countries to enable them to catch up with the richer countries.
In October 2015, the first batch of students started this master program: 22 students from 13 different countries from all over the world were selected out of nearly 220 applicants. By now, all of our pioneer students have successfully finished their studies and started exciting careers in various development-related fields, such as development consulting, refugee work, legal aid, sustainable coffee production, and others. Five of our alumni have started a development-related PhD program.
In October 2018, we welcomed the fourth generation to begin a master in Development Studies here at the University of Passau. Since the start of the program, the number of applications has constantly increased to almost 300 for the current batch. Out of these, 40 students from 19 countries have started their studies. The share of students from emerging and developing countries has increased from 22% in the first batch to 83% in the current batch. We are also happy to see an increasing number of mid-career professionals joining our program.
'At some point during my Bachelor’s program in Social Communication/Journalism in Colombia, I decided to focus my study load on communications for development because I felt drawn to the use of communications as a tool to expand ideas and spread welfare, instead of selling products and services. This decision was a turning point in my career and the main reason I chose to pursue a Master’s degree in Development Studies. With this Master’s program I hope to understand some of the complexities of the modern world and find out the best way to apply my knowledge in order to contribute and make a positive difference to society. After this Master’s program I would like to lead the communications department of a NGO or a multilateral agency; a step further would be to run my own socially driven company that produces documentary films in order to draw attention to the most important development issues.'
‘During my Bachelor in European Studies I started to engage in development strategies of the European Union. This grabbed my interest and made me curios to look beyond Europe and understand the differences in terms of development in other regions of the world and their causes. Therefore I decided to study Development Studies at Passau University to engage in these multifaceted issues. What particularly motivated me to go to Passau was the interdisciplinary design of the program. The wide range of courses enables you to specialize in a field of your own interest, may it be Economics, South East Asia or Sustainability. This is supported by our motivated professors who are engaging in the named different fields of science. Additionally, our small but international group of students invites for interesting discussions and learning about different countries and cultures on firsthand information. The small group further allows you close contact and exchange with the professors. For me, this master program is the base to widen my experience abroad and engage in development work with a NGO or a multilateral organization.‘
Since my youth, the active engagement in development aid for India has been a part of my life. These activities confronted me early with challenges of global development differences, inequality and extreme poverty. Challenges whose causes I always wanted to understand. Through my work in a German State Bank and the simultaneous study of business administration, I was able to build the first foundation of economic knowledge in order to understand the basic developments of a national economy. My interest in further expanding my involvement in development aid and in gaining a deeper understanding of the existing injustices in our (globalized) world and of specific approaches to development strategies for a worldwide sustainable development, such as innovation concepts for the establishment of a private sector (e.g. by promoting entrepreneurship) were the decisive factors for my decision to take a Master's degree in Development Studies. Studying at the University of Passau offers me two major advantages. On the one hand, the interdisciplinary orientation of the study program, which enables me to set an individual focus, e.g. on development economics, and on the other hand, the possibility of participating in university-wide and often practically oriented seminar programs being offered in cooperation with experts (e.g. GIZ, business founders). Furthermore, the personal, supportive and intercultural atmosphere, not only among the students but especially among our three professors in charge, is particularly beneficial, rounds off the program and confirms my decision to study in Passau. I can very well imagine starting an academic career as a doctoral student in the field of sustainable economic development or working for a multilateral organization after graduation. Regardless of which career path I ultimately choose, I am convinced that my Master's degree in Development Studies is the optimal foundation.
Having a Bachelor's in Integrated Development Studies in my home country (Ghana) inspired and made me more curious to gain in-depth knowledge on developmental issues around the world. Finding the University of Passau as one of the excellent young universities in the world through the DAAD international programs was a perfect start for my journey to study Development Studies at a Masters level. Getting admission was eventually a dream come true because I knew my quest in finding quality education with a strong research focus in the area of socio-economic development as well as sustainability had just begun. The lecturers and the tuition they provide has helped me gain more understanding on mind-boggling developmental issues especially with reference to developing countries. Not only that, but also my confidence level as an individual has increased through presentations and the friendly nature the professors and their research assistance related to students. So far, it has been so good and I am very optimistic I will be able to put the knowledge that would be gained after a successful completion of the program into practice.
Major parts of Southeast Asia were colonized by European powers. The period of colonization in this region has left its mark on the people, culture and architecture alike. To analyze the latter, Professor Rüdiger Korff encouraged a selection of students to participate in a two-week excursion from March 25 to April 7, 2019 in order to trace back colonial heritage in the Southeast Asian urban environment. Our excursion took a start in Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar. This remarkable country is a special case in the Southeast Asian context due to its decade-long isolation. The democratization process since 2011 opened the nation to the outside world and enabled a more profound cultural exchange. Yet, we can tell that the city of Yangon has retained its unique beauty and mysticism. We continued the research in Penang, Malaysia, which has declared its colonial downtown area a UNESCO heritage site in order to preserve it. As we had been staying in Kuala Lumpur prior to Penang, we could identify the stark contrast between hypermodern urban development and clinging to historical heritage. Through individual research, each individual of our group explored the city in order to identify colonial buildings. Each one has its own story to tell, especially how and why it has survived more than a century of inhabitation or usage. In general, the key word to summarize the excursion is ambivalence. Renewing cities for the sake of development and preserving historical assets are incredibly difficult to balance. Every decision has to be viewed from multiple perspectives and concessions have to be made. For us students, this excursion is the very start of a continuous thought process and a particularly insightful experience for history, urbanism and struggles in Southeast Asia.
On January 10, 2019, students, lecturers and professors of the program departed to the picturesque village of Neuschönau in the Bavarian Forest for a three-day research trip. This trip is an inherent part of the Research Seminar that all students attend in their third semester in order to lay the groundwork for their master theses. The group was accommodated in a cozy youth hostel on the countryside and spent a fun and productive weekend together. On the first day, all students presented the current state of their research proposals and received comprehensive feedback from their peers and professors. Students then elaborated their proposals in student working groups and in direct dialogue with their supervisors. Apart from productive working sessions, the group enjoyed their common leisure time with various activities. ‘One highlight was definitely our adventurous snow hiking tour through a breathtaking winter landscape. Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with delicious local specialties in a traditional Bavarian tavern. We students really appreciated the weekend as we took home not only more elaborated research proposals but also lots of great memories.’ (Benjamin Busser, student of the third batch, M.A. Development Studies)
In addition to various methodological courses and an introduction to Methods and Theories of Development Research, the first semester also included a Master's seminar on Urbanisation. In this seminar we had to produce, in groups of 2 or 3, a video statement on a particular problem. The video clip below is an example of our coursework.
It was through DAAD, or the German Academic Exchange Service, search engine that I first discovered the M.A. in Development Studies program at the University of Passau. I, along with a few of my colleagues, were so fortunate to have been granted scholarships through DAAD, which have been a huge financial help in funding our stay and our studies in Germany. For more information on DAAD and their scholarship opportunities, you can visit their website here: https://www.daad.de/en/.
'This program addresses the worldwide need for experts in the expanding field of development research as well as for project managers in international development cooperation and multinational firms. Students enrolled in the program gain insights into the economic, social, ethical, and cultural contexts and constraints of development. The program provides outstanding opportunities for putting theory into practice through international field research, with a strong focus on integrating quantitative and qualitative methods required to understand and navigate the complexities of economic and social development.' (Professor Grimm, Chair of Development Economics)
'Teaching in development studies allows me to connect my current research interest in transdisciplinary approaches to sustainability issues. I believe that only thinking out of disciplinary boxes will enable us to tackle social, economic and ecological inequalities. For this end we offer empirical involvement equipped with critical thinking and sound methods at the MA:DS!' (Professor Martina Padmanabhan, Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies – Southeast Asia)
Each summer semester the students and professors organise a Short Film Night to present the short films produced by the students as part of the Interdisciplinary Seminar during the first semester of the Master program. The short films are produced in group work and deal with current hot topics of Development Studies such as poverty, inequality, sustainability and many more. Therefore, the students are given a statement by the professors which they have to critically discuss throughout their videos. The Short Film Night is an event to show these videos in front of an open audience at the University of Passau. In the end, the audience itself decides which video deserves to win based on content, creativity and line of argumentation. The time between the videos serves as a good opportunity for all audience members to engage with the students, professors and staff members of the Master program to gain insights into the depth of Development Studies to possibly find the program suitable for their own future.