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 every fall, 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.


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 can be implemented starting the summer after their participation in the lab. To learn more about students’ past projects, click here.


Using knowledge gained from educational sessions and experience gained from our simulations, participants put their newfound skills to work through a Summer internship abroad and/or by implementing their project. While lab participants will be ultimately responsible for securing their internships, GDL offers its expansive network of resources and connections to facilitate the process.We offer students access to collaborative fundraising opportunities and scholarship resources. In an effort to give more students the opportunity to implement their projects, we now work with the UCLA International Institute to provide scholarships to students with outstanding project plans. Our donation-based GDL Support Fund gives students the resources they need to pursue their passion for helping others, and allows donors outside the lab the opportunity to get involved.