First-Year Studies: Introduction to Development Studies


There is no consensus on what “development” is or how it can be achieved. In this course, students will be exposed to a wide range of debates and theories on the political economy of “development” in which the analytical framework will draw on several different disciplines—including economics, history, politics, and sociology—to investigate the challenges confronting countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa as they have evolved historically. The objective of the course is for students to understand how the question of “development” has to be put in the context of unequal power relations within and between countries in the global political economic system. The course will enable students to engage contemporary debates on “development,” debates that essentially rage between, on the one hand, those who argue that free trade and transnational corporations will tend to reduce international inequalities and, on the other hand, those who argue that these are the factors that cause the inequalities and marginalize countries in less developed countries (LDCs). Further, the debate is also about the extent and scope of state involvement. We will pose the following questions and seek to engage the controversies that they have engendered. What are the historical roots of international inequalities? Should there be more or less government involvement in lowering international inequalities and domestic poverty? Should states in LDCs be involved in promoting industrialization and improving social protection, or should these goals be left to the free market? What was the historical experience of the industrialized countries with regard to the role of the state? Why have some states been more successful than others in promoting “development”? This course is for students who are interested in taking an interdisciplinary and historically-informed approach to analyzing domestic and international inequalities.