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Politics of International Development (PO203)

Why do so many people in the world remain in poverty? Is poverty reduction the same thing as development? And might the actions of businesses and governments in richer countries be part of the problem as much as the solution? This module will provide you with a way to critically assess policies committed in the name of international development – they are not usually as benign as people make out! You will also better understand the meaning of popular ideas like good governance and human development, and be able to navigate the competing claims as to why global inequality persists today.

Programme content

In Term 1 we will concentrate on the different ways in which ‘development’ has been understood and practised – from the ideas of civilisation and imperialism in the 19th century to entrepreneurialism and neo-liberalism today. As part of this theoretical overview, we also consider explanations for why particular areas have or have not developed (e.g. the East Asian miracle, Latin American dependency) and whether international development, as some sceptics allege, is simply a guise for controlling the world’s poor.

In Term 2 we look at key topics in international development. The first five weeks examine particular actors – including international organisations like the World Bank, states, transnational companies, civil society and the poor themselves – and asks what role and responsibility they should have in respect to international development. The last four weeks look at the way these actors govern issues like hunger, aid, health and climate change.