Established in 2001 with the dawn of the 21st century, Central Department of Rural Development (CDRD), one of Central Departments under the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tribhuvan University, has been offering Master of Arts(MA) program in Rural Development for about one and a half decade. It has also been facilitating a PhD program in Rural Development(the program that the Dean Office of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences started few years after CDRD came into existence) for about a decade by assessing and influencing a doctoral research conducted by students enrolled in that program through critical comments and suggestions.
Despite rapid urbanization, Nepal is still predominantly rural. Rural Municipalities (490) account for about 65 percent of total local levels (753) while urban local levels(263)-Metropolitan City(5), Sub-Metropolitan City(12) and Municipalities(246)- make up about 35 percent. Its overall development essentially involves rural development. Setting in motion the process of development in Nepali context is, for the most part, setting in motion the process of rural development. Ensuring that setting in motion the process of rural development contributes to overall development of the country requires that it be as scientific as possible. Likewise, for the process of rural development to be as scientific as possible, it must be informed by the theoretical insights derived from different academic disciplines. It is this assumption that forms the rationale behind the multidisciplinary character of MA program in Rural Development.
Without human resources, development of developing countries like Nepal becomes a chimera. Therefore, Tribhuvan University felt its responsibility to produce human resources required for its overall development mainly including rural development. It is against this backdrop that Central Department of Rural Development (CDRD) came into existence in 2001 as one of the Central Departments under the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science (FHSS) in Tribhuvan University (TU).
CDRD has two- fold objectives. Its first objective is to produce Rural Development practitioners of a high caliber required for the effective implementation of knowledge related to Rural Development. It is the first department under the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences aimed at producing development practitioners well-equipped with multidisciplinary insights into development in general and rural development in particular.
Its second objective is to acquaint students with significant, if not complete, amount of theoretical and practical knowledge sine qua non for pursuing a doctoral degree in Rural Development successfully.
Upon completion of an MA program in Rural Development, those students who are connected with the first objective choose to join governmental and non-governmental organizations to partake as a development practitioner in the development activities they carry out whereas those students related to the second objective pursue a doctoral degree with a view to making an advanced intellectual preparation for an academic career they aspire to.
CDRD offered an MA program in Rural Development based on non-semester system( i.e. yearly system) from 2001 to 2013. In an effort to improve quality of teaching, it, like all the other central departments under TU, introduced a semester system-based MA program in Rural Development in 2014. Three years after CDRD started offering a semester system-based MA program, all the colleges situated in Kathmandu Valley -both affiliated to TU and its constituents-have also started running it from the current academic year. TU has a plan to expand MA programs in all subjects based on semester system across the country in the days to come.
Rural Development as a field of knowledge has significantly expanded over the last 16 years in Nepal. It is taught at Bachelor and Master Levels in different colleges affiliated to TU and its constituent colleges across the country. It is also taught at 11 and 12 grades under school education system. CDRD has played a pivotal role in the expansion of rural development as an academic discipline throughout the country.