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University of Queensland

Critical Development Perspectives

University of Queensland via edX


This course is part of the Leadership in Global Development MicroMasters program. In order to get the most out of this course, we recommend that you have experience working in the development sector or a strong interest in this area. We also recommend that you complete the other three courses that make up the Leadership in Global Development MicroMasters program: Leaders in Global Development, The Science and Practice of Sustainable Development, and Adaptive Leadership in Development.

There is a vast array of different arguments about what development is and how development can be achieved. A leader in development must be able to understand, appreciate, evaluate and broker between differing and sometimes conflicting perspectives and ideas.

In this course you will develop skills in critical thinking and analysis, while being introduced to some of the contemporary debates and current challenges facing development practice. The wide variety of topics covered will also give you a sense of the diversity of issues that development encapsulates. Learners are encouraged to reflect on their own ideas and practice, and share their perspectives with other learners and the course team.

Each module in the course focuses on a contemporary topic in the development field. Within each module you will engage with key readings that argue different perspectives on the same topic. Interviews with the author complement these readings. Some of the authors we interview include Philip McMichael (Cornell University), Doug Porter (Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University), Blessings Chinsinga (The University of Malawi), Naila Kabeer (London School of Economics and Political Science), and Rachel Glennerster, (The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, MIT).


MODULE 1: Sustainable development
The term 'sustainable development' is now ubiquitous in development and wider political spheres. However, what this term actually means and the path to achieving ecological sustainability remains contested.

MODULE 2: South-South development cooperation
Development aid, as traditionally understood, was provided by the wealthy countries of the global North to countries of the global South. These aid transfers often had certain conditionalities attached and were underpinned by particular political agendas. The aid landscape is, however, changing.

MODULE 3: Gender, faith and development
What is the role of faith and religion in development? Can faith and religion provide a platform for progressive social and political change, particularly with regard to gender?

MODULE 4: The military in development
What role can, and should, the military play in development? Can it play a complementary role or do the differences in mandate mean that they are incompatible?

MODULE 5: Elites in development
The role that elites can and should play in development is contested.

MODULE 6: Downward accountability in governance
Achieving downward social accountability is an important part of building sustainable institutions. How can downward social accountability be created?

MODULE 7: Input subsidies for food security
Ensuring that there is sufficient food for nourishment of Earth's growing population is a key concern for development.

MODULE 8: Microfinance
Microfinance, popularised by Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, was at one time
considered to be a highly effective approach to poverty alleviation. However, since then impact evaluations of micro-finance programs have produced mixed conclusions about what micro-finance can achieve. This module investigates the merits of micro-finance and asks 'what can micro-finance programs actually achieve'?

MODULE 9: Impact measurement for development
Accurately measuring the impact of development programs is vital for ensuring that the programs are actually working to improve the lives of people on the ground. So how do we measure the impact of development programs?

MODULE 10: Indigenous people 's inequality and disadvantage
What are some of the ways researchers and advocates analyse Indigenous people's disadvantage and inequality? Is disadvantage and inequality historically entrenched? How does the way that''agency' is conceptualised impact on understandings of Indigenous peoples' disadvantage and inequality?

Taught by

Mark Moran


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