In 2007 a group of 20 leading scholars and practitioners were commissioned to conduct a year-long study of development education programs across the globe. The International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice (ICE) found that existing development programs lacked the critical linkages between the natural, social, and health sciences, and management required to address urgent problems in the developing world. They concluded that "generalist practitioners" are needed to bridge the gaps between specialized disciplines and "develop integrated policy solutions that are scientifically, politically and contextually grounded".
The MacArthur Foundation has devoted $15 Million to implement the recommendations of the ICE by developing a global network of masterís programs in Sustainable Development Practice (MDPs). The first MDP program was initiated in October 2008 at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. This program acts as a secretariat for the global MDP network comprised of 23 programs in North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia.
In June, 2009 UF was selected as one of the two universities in the US to receive this prestigious award in the first round of funding. UF’s MDP program is administered jointly through the Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for African Studies. It builds on the Center for Latin American Studies’ internationally recognized Tropical Conservation and Development (TCD) program, which has successfully addressed conservation and development issues over the past twenty years.