Introduction to Development

Course Description: 

Elective Course, Development Specialization

This class introduces students to a series of fundamental questions surrounding economic development. What does it mean? Why is there such a wide cross-national and cross-regional disparity in terms of access to basic goods and services for ordinary citizens? Are there different tools for helping us understand these gaps? What are the current debates regarding policy solutions?

The course will cross disciplinary bridges in order to give students exposure to conversations taking place in various fields: development economics, political economy, and anthropology. Thematically, the class will follow three major axes: 1) wealth and growth; 2) poverty and inequalities; 3) actors and processes in international development. Pedagogically, in addition to discussions generated by readings, course participants will work in lab teams on specific projects entailing data collection and analysis. Some sessions will also feature interactive case studies and new media.

Development labs and team work

We will meet every week. To make the best of it, let’s divide up some tasks: class time will cover mostly theoretical issues, debates, and interactive case studies/simulations. You will be assigned to a team that receives a research assignment related to concept measurement and cross-national empirics. Until the following session, you will work collaboratively to develop a group presentation on your topic. Additionally, you will write a 5-page individual paper to accompany this exercise.

Learning Outcomes: 

Because of its short duration, this course is not designed to cover all theoretical and applied perspectives on development. Think of it as a sampler or a teaser: students will get a taste of analytical tools and current debates. However, by the end of the semester, you should be able to think critically about the meaning of development, the underlying causes of poverty, of large income disparities among and within countries, and policy solutions.

You will also work in small teams on an assigned project, and make a brief presentation of findings. This exercise attempts to simulate a real work environment in which you have to collaborate with your colleagues, process information effectively, and be persuasive in front of an audience. Last but certainly not least, your final project is designed to link the class to your concrete interests (MA thesis, internship, passion project).


The final grade will evaluate the completion of the following assignments:

1)  Reading notes (20%): Starting with the second session (September 28), you are expected to submit one reaction-to-readings paragraph 24 hours before each class session. These submissions to Moodle should cover three areas: a) the most important point that you take away from the readings assigned that week; b) a one-sentence critique to an argument; c) one question to guide class discussion. The total weight of this assignment is 20 % of the final grade (failure to submit weekly abstracts will result in 4% lost).

2)  One short paper and a team presentation (30%):  The 5-page paper (1,250 words) is worth 20%, the oral presentation and team work – 10%.

3)  Final paper/proposal (40%): students are expected to write a short research paper or proposal (10- 20 pages) on a topic related to development. This assignment receives 40%. Some projects may be collaborative. Please consult with the instructor to obtain approval for the topic as well as for co-authored work.

4) Participation and discussion (10%)  To receive the maximum number of points for class participation, you must arrive on time, miss no more than one class, and contribute to the class discussion every week.

5)  An extra-credit assignment: Towards the end of the semester, you will have the chance of compensating for 5% of lost points by attending a lecture relevant to the topic of the course

At the end of the semester, the final score is converted to a letter grade according to the CEU grading scale, as follows:

A 3.68 – 4.00
A- 3.34 – 3.67
B+ 3.01 – 3.33
B 2.68 – 3.00
B- 2.34 – 2.67
C+ 2.33 (minimum pass)

Additional information concerning grading procedures and specifications for turning in the assignments is also included in the CEU School of Public Policy Student Manual.