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Objectives of the master

The Master aims to provide post-graduate specialist training in food security and human development.

The training process involves the acquisition of high theoretical and practical skills in the field of applied statistical analysis, research methods, development economics, rural development, food security, and human development.

The master aims to shape experts in the fight against hunger and poverty.

Course of the Master

The master has a duration of 12 months, starting from September of each year, for a total of 1500 hours and 60 ECTS. The program consists of a theoretical part lasting 9 months and includes about 360 hours of lessons, usually from September to May, and takes place in Rome. At the end of the second semester, all students must redact a dissertation. All activities are conducted in English.

For the academic year 2023/2024, the planned teaching method will be mixed/blended (both online and in person, in Rome). Attendance will be mandatory for both in-person students and those taking the online course.

The master consists of four phases:

  1. Pre-courses in economics, statistics and mathematics.
  2. University lectures conducted by teaching staff selected by the University of Roma Tre, other Italian and foreign universities, FAO, IFAD, WFP, ILC, and other international organizations, NGOs, research institutes and national organizations (please visit the section entitled “the professors” for more information). The material is largely based on the use of case studies and other practical modules, including the use of software for data analysis.
  3. Workshops, seminars, and conferences that will cover complimentary themes to the cycle of lectures, where leading experts from international organizations, universities, and NGOs will be involved.
  4. Internship, dissertation, or field work. Students can choose to go to the field or to carry out an internship at the headquarters of NGOs, international organizations and government institutions, thus having the great opportunity to gain direct experience by working side by side with professionals in the development sector (the master does not guarantee any internship). Alternatively, students may choose to do research and write a thesis specifically related to the content of the master’s program.

The Master

The master will be divided into six courses that form a complete and structured course of 60 CFU that will serve to shape a professional that will be able to move in the sector of food security and human development, with a particular focus on the fight against poverty.

Link identifier #identifier__162326-17Quantitative Techniques (60 hours)

Coordinator: Matteo Mazziotta (Istat)

The course aims to provide students with the statistical tools necessary to plan and carry out a statistical survey and to process and analyze data. Numerous exercises (carried out in the computer lab) will be developed during the course aimed at introducing the main statistical software for data analysis (Microsoft Excel, SPSS, and R). The topics can be divided into four modules:

  • Descriptive Statistics. In this section students will study how to publish data (numerical and non-numerical) in tables and graphs, the main measures of central tendency, variability and shape, the concentration of a transferable character, index numbers. Furthermore, correlation, linear regressions and T-tests are discussed.
  • Multivariate analysis. In this part of the course the main techniques of data reduction are explored, in particular the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis.
  • Composite indicators. This section is devoted to measuring multidimensional phenomena such as development, poverty, malnutrition, hunger, quality of life, etc. The most innovative methods for constructing composite indicators are presented. In particular, the standardization, weighting and aggregation phases of the individual indicators are analyzed in depth.
  • Demography. The main demographic phenomena within a generation are introduced, with particular emphasis on the mortality rate and birth rate. In addition, the main demographic rates and the Lexis diagram are presented.

Link identifier #identifier__127340-18Development and Environmental Economics (60 hours)

Coordinator: Link identifier #identifier__129763-19Silvia Nenci (The University of Roma Tre)

The course is composed of four modules:

  • Microeconomics. The main objective of this module is to provide students with a simple microeconomic analytical framework for studying a selected number of development topics. The course will first provide some basic notions of microeconomics; we will then move on to an analysis of the role of institutions in the development process, with an eye on markets and spontaneous networks. Fundamental issues for development – such as poverty, land, and agriculture – will therefore be investigated and put into perspective. Finally, recent insights into credit and financial markets will be presented and discussed.
  • Macroeconomics. This module examines the main theories and issues of development macroeconomics, with a particular focus on growth, distribution, structural change, and institutional factors. In addition to neoclassical and heterodox models of growth and distribution, it examines rising yields and endogenous growth and their implications for international convergence or divergence. The course also explores the role of economics and social institutions in the growth process. Finally, the two-way economic links between the food sector and the macroeconomy will be assessed. While the course will focus on theory and analysis, it will also consider evidence (both historical and transnational) and policies in order to situate and motivate theories and models.
  • International Trade. This course will provide students with an analytical framework for the study of international trade, with a particular focus on the relationship between trade and development. The course will highlight the historical evolution of trade and trade liberalization, the sources of comparative advantage, gains and losses from trade, and the effects of trade policy interventions. International agreements on regional trade liberalization and multilateral trade liberalization will also be discussed. It will also touch on a number of topics of current interest, including the debate on globalization, trade and economic growth, and the analysis of the main actors and tools in global governance.
  • Environmental and natural resources economics. These lessons deal with the economic and environmental implications of managing natural resources. The course covers conceptual and methodological topics, as well as natural resource allocation problems. It introduces students to the principles, reasoning and techniques needed to analyze real economic policy tools.

Link identifier #identifier__185026-20Research Methods (60 hours)

Coordinators: Matteo Mazziotta (Istat) and Federico Roscioli

Starting with the 2020/2021 edition, this new course further enriches the teaching offer of the Master in Human Development and Food Security. “Research Methods” (RM) extends across five courses and aims to provide students with the necessary tools to undertake scientific research, from creating and carrying out a field survey to presenting the results and implications to different audiences. Furthermore, the course teaches students how to systematize, write and communicate research findings and implications that appeal to different contexts and audiences (e.g., to select relevant scientific journals, in writing a thesis or research paper addressed to the academic community, drafting a policy document, selecting appropriate research communication techniques and tools, public speaking, and other interdisciplinary skills). The topics can be divided into five modules:

  • Statistical Surveys. Each phase of the design is analyzed, focusing on the design and type of survey, the creation of the questionnaire, the main sampling techniques, and the estimation of sampling and non-sampling errors. In addition, the concept of quality of the statistical survey is deepened.
  • Sampling Techniques. This part concerns sampling projects, the problem of estimation, the properties of estimators, the sample size and the sampling error. In addition, non-probabilistic selection techniques are delivered with particular attention to methods for developing countries.
  • Impact Assessment.
  • Qualitative Investigation Techniques.
  • Communication of research results.

Link identifier #identifier__137318-21 Sustainable Human Development (60 hours)

Coordinators: Link identifier #identifier__17251-22Francesco Burchi (German Development Institute – DIE) and Link identifier #identifier__58451-23Elisabetta Aurino (Imperial College of London)

This course has a twofold objective. The first is to provide students with the theoretical foundations of human development that derive from the work of Amartya Sen. In this conceptual framework, “Development can be seen…as a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy” (UNDP). Focusing on human freedoms contrasts with the narrower views of development as a synonym for economic growth, industrialization or modernization. This first part of the course will introduce key concepts, such as human development, capabilities, functioning, agency, wellbeing, and participation. The second objective of the course is to provide students with the necessary tools to analyze and evaluate wellbeing, poverty and inequality and to design, monitor and evaluate economics and social policies in low to middle income countries. The standard lectures will be supplemented by case study analysis and computer lab exercises.

  • Introduction to the Capability Approach and Human Development: Historical evolution of development thinking; Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach; means and ends of development; UNDP’s approach to human development; the measurement of human development: The Human Development Index and beyond.
  • Poverty and Inequality: economic inequality and social justice; the measurement of income inequality; the measurement of the inequality of capabilities; approaches to poverty; income poverty indicators; multidimensional measurement of poverty.
  • Development policies: policies necessary to promote human development; social protection.
  • Special topics: education and human development; health; sustainable development.

Link identifier #identifier__64919-24Food Security and Equity (60 hours)

Coordinators: Nora McKeon (International University College, Turin, Terra Nuova, former work with FAO) and Fernanda Guerrieri (farmer, former director at FAO).

This course will look at a number of key questions, including: What are the causes of hunger and malnutrition? Who is vulnerable? How do the various actors (from producers to consumers) interact in the different types of food systems and with what impacts on food security? What approaches are being taken to tackle food insecurity by governments, development partners, international institutions, civil society and social movements, or the private sector? What changes would be appropriate in food governance and related paradigms, taking into account the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?

The aim of the course is to equip students with analytical skills and practical tools to be able to develop and defend their views on issues such as these and prepare them to play an effective role in processes and programs on the political ground of food security. The course will be divided into an introductory part and four blocks. It will focus on the translation of food security concepts and policies into actions by drawing on case studies of policies and projects at differing levels, adopting different approaches and tools. Students will engage in concrete study projects and role-play exercises and will have the opportunity to follow the negotiations underway in the United Nations Committee on World Food Security.

  • Introduction: from food security to food systems: historical evolution of food security concepts; different views on food security/food systems (panel).
  • Governance of food security: introduction to food governance; food supply in a globalized world; who decides and on what evidence; COVID-19, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the current situation of global food governance.
  • Food Systems, Nutrition and Food Security: nutrition overview and field implications; food systems and healthy diets; food safety; trade and markets – global value chains and territorial markets (panel).
  • Translating food policy into practice: introduction to food policies; translation of policies into development programs/projects; crisis and humanitarian programs/projects; food aid; building of municipal food policies.
  • Measurement and monitoring of food and nutritional insecurity: vulnerability analysis; different approaches to measuring and monitoring food and nutritional insecurity.

Link identifier #identifier__100276-25Empowering Rural People (60 hours)

Coordinators Link identifier #identifier__152772-26Mattia Prayer Galletti (ex-IFAD), Cristiana Sparacino

The course seeks to provide a broad understanding of rural development (RD) and its relevance in relation to the 2030 Agenda, illustrated by examples of “good practices.” Sharing lessons learned from projects and programs and from policy implementation, the course provides a “practical” perspective. Reviewing the past decades of RD experiences that have led to the current state of the art in terms of conceptual approaches, this module also aims to improve students’ critical thinking, thus challenging some of the “conventional wisdom” and what is often referred to as “data.” The latter sections are part of the institutional environment of RD, which will be disassembled and recontextualized to extract some enabling and less enabling elements. In addition, the modules are based on research to understand students’ expectations, to mobilize the experience of students in RD and related fields, and to leave a window of time for the topics to be reported by students.

  • Section 1: Identifying vulnerable groups in rural areas: women and gender issues, small landowners, indigenous peoples, marginalized groups and rural youth; tools and methodologies for the analysis of the economy of livelihoods, both institutional and political.
  • Section 2: the role of agriculture in rural development, external evaluations of RD interventions; community-led development and territorial development, migrants and remittances; rural livelihood options: development of micro-enterprises and agricultural value chains; financial and non-financial services; public-private partnerships, farmers’ organizations in evolving food systems; new business models: new generation cooperatives, core/out-grower schemes.
  • Section 3: sustainable management of natural resources and open-source digital applications for geographic data; agricultural systems and biodiversity, agroecology and multifunctionality of agriculture.

Initial Pre-courses

All students have the opportunity to attend a series of optional free pre-courses before the start of the Master throughout the month of September. The pre-courses aim to bridge any gaps in students’ understanding of statistics, economics, and mathematics.


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