Our Mission

The Global Development Lab (GDL) is a UCLA student-run organization that endeavors to create a community of individuals with a passion for international development and establish a space for students to learn, experience, and engage in community development projects critical to the alleviation of global poverty.  

Our vision is that students gain the skills necessary to experiment with initiatives of their own, while at the same time gaining an understanding of “development” that is sustainable, culturally-relevant, and in alignment with the goals and needs of their community partners. 



Once lab participants are selected in October 2016, GDL will hold a series of educational workshops to provide a holistic perspective on the aspects of real-world development. After participating in the program, students will have a more comprehensive understanding of their potential impact and will obtain the skills and knowledge that will apply not only to their immediate projects but to their future involvement as development practitioners. Weekly meetings will include a mix of faculty-led workshops, case study research, guest professional panels, and interactive presentations. For a full list of this year's sessions, please refer to our 2016-2017 Lab page.


Each GDL participant will engage in a series of simulations to brainstorm hypothetical solutions to poverty issues in different communities around the world. These simulations will touch on several facets of development work, ranging from education to healthcare. Students will also have the opportunity to design a capstone project for a disadvantaged community that will be carried out over the Summer of 2017. To find out about last year’s simulations and lab projects, see our 2015-2016 Lab Overview.


Using knowledge gained from educational sessions and experience gained from our simulations, participants will put their newfound skills to work through a Summer internship abroad. Depending on the nature of each placement, students may also have the opportunity to enact their capstone project initiative. While lab participants will be ultimately responsible for securing their internships, GDL will offer its expansive network of resources and connections to facilitate the process. Additionally, GDL will offer students access to collaborative fundraising opportunities and scholarship resources. 

Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.
— Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations