SOS591 - International Development Theories & Practices

International development is going through a paradigm shift, moving away from the conventional, top-down approach to a collaborative partnership approach that is driven by the Sustainable Development Goals. Taking an interdisciplinary model, this graduate seminar surveys the fundamentals of development theories, key development issues and sustainability challenges, and the best practices adopted worldwide. The main goal of this course is to prepare graduate researchers for potential international development research opportunities offered, in partnership with ASU, by The USAID Global Development Research (GDR) Fellowships. Consideration for this GDR Fellowship is contingent upon the successful completion of this course with a “B” or above grade.

To achieve this goal, this course is developed as a three credit hours course for both in-person and online students. Kept condensed and ambitious by design, this course combines a comprehensive set of reading and supporting learning materials on international development theories and policies with several case examples and development project management tools of the USAID. While we may accommodate some of the GDR fellowship programmatic variations or constraints, students are expected to fully realize the value and scope of this course and prepare themselves accordingly for what could be a life-changing opportunity: to work in an exciting international development project and successfully collaborate with local partners in a cross-cultural setting. Some modifications in course schedule may be necessary to allow students and the instructors co-develop a new set of ideas and plans to best match the potential projects of the host country partners.

Course objectives and learning outcomes

Students will learn a broad range of international development issues, policies and practices. They will also be challenged to develop critical thinking skills on international development theories and policies covered in this class. It is a crucial part of strengthening the technical expertise of the potential GDR Fellows who are expected by their host country partners to develop and deliver a responsive and effective development research project. Critical thinking on development issues and project management skillsets acquired from this class will enable the GDR Fellows to better understand the needs of the host organizations and effectively collaborate with them. By the end of the semester, students should be able to:

  1. discuss the key theories and policies on international development and related them in a host country;
  2. apply the core principles of sustainability within a development project specific setting;
  3. develop collaborative research strategies with a host partner for a responsive development project;
  4. design a complete project plan, starting from a proposal and an IRB application to the final project reporting which also has a monitoring and evaluation plan; and
  5. acquire an innovative set of research techniques and project management tools designed to advance students’ critical thinking, planning, and communication skills.

Required textbooks and readings

Purchase these two textbooks, which are available at the ASU Bookstore and other online vendors. We will be using these extensively from Week 01; have them ready for class. Make sure to buy the correct edition.

1. Willis, K. (2011). Theories and Practices in Development, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-0415590716

2. Gardner, K. & D. Lewis (2015). Anthropology and Development: Challenges for the Twenty-first Century. London, UK: Pluto Press. ISBN: 978-0745333649.