Spring 2014 - 63520 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

International Development

Any foray into international development must grapple with fundamental questions regarding how we understand poverty and development and how we know what works or doesn’t work in the practice of global development. We begin the course with a discussion of the ways in which we may define, observe and measure development from multiple perspectives and methodologies. We then proceed to explore the development experiences through the lens of studies which employ different ideologies and methodologies to understands what does and does not work in international development. This section focuses on both macro and micro approaches in development studies as well as a critical look at the role of international development aid.
This iteration of the course does not offer a grand survey of the history and practice of international development, although much of our discussion will focus on historical experiences, contending debates and strategies for producing growth, reducing poverty and inequality, and improving societies’ well-being. Moreover, there is not enough time in the course to delve deeply into thematic issues in global development, such as gender, governance, and the environment or the effect of the current global challenges on the developing world, such as recent volatility in food and commodity markets, climate change, and the global financial crisis. Each of these topics will surface at various times in the class.

Throughout the semester, I will emphasize exposure to multiple points of view, from varying disciplines, methodologies, and ideologies.  Students will gain experience with important statistical databases (such as the World Development Indicators, Human Development Indicators, and the new Multidimensional Poverty Index), and an exposure to a wide range of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to understanding and addressing poverty. Assignments will emphasize direct engagement with primary materials and will focus on building critical writing, analytical and presentation skills that will demonstrate a broad understanding of the key issues and challenges facing international development today. Please bring your laptop to class. Whenever possible, we will refer to web resources during class discussion and will do interactive exercise with online databases.