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Conceptual Foundation for Development I

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DVST 5100 3.0
Conceptual Foundations for Development I
Course Outline
Fall 2013

Course Director: Dr. Fahim Quadir
Faculty of Graduate Studies (230 York Lanes R)
Tel: 22249
Office Hours:

by appointment

Class Room:

Ross South 125

Class Meetings: Tuesdays 11:30-2:30


This course examines the epistemological foundations of development. The overall goal of the course is to shift the issue/area-centric focus that has traditionally characterized Development Studies to conceptualize development in a critical, inclusive and multidisciplinary manner. With this as the background, the course will also seek to enable a reflection on prevalent practices of development.

It will begin by addressing the general issues related to the production of knowledge for development. In particular, we will focus on the historical forces shaping development as a field of study and on the key theoretical approaches that have influenced the evolution of and major debates in the discipline. The course will also explore the role of the social, cultural and political processes that determine, both as expression of conflict and as spaces for the formulation of alternatives, the course of development. Thus, we will consider the role of the state in the process of development, the historical conditions that might account for its capacity as an actor and the political forces that explain the directionality of its intervention. The course will also analyse the forces beyond the sphere of the state that have increasingly configure themselves as arenas for the consolidation of alternatives.

Structure of the Course

This course will be organized around a 3-hour weekly seminar. Every Tuesday morning the class will meet to discuss the topic at hand introduced by both class-members and the course director. The main purpose of these class meetings is to provide a context for gaining a critical understanding of the changing development discourse. By integrating domestic and international dynamics of socio-economic change, the weekly meetings will offer a comprehensive and systematic analysis of how the meanings of development have changed over the past 50 or so years. One of our major goals will be to reveal the complexities associated with the term “development”. We plan to combine case studies with theoretical assumptions to provide a compelling analysis of both the success and failure of development intervention programs.

Course Requirements

Final evaluation will be based on the knowledge of materials covered in this course as well as the assignments listed below:

1) Seminar participation 25%
2) Seminar presentation and short paper  15% + 15% (30%)
3) Short essay 15%
4) Research paper 30%

Please note that non-submission of work without an approved extension from the instructor will be accredited with the mark of "0". In order to receive a final grade, the class-member will have to receive a grade in each of the distributions noted above.

1) Seminar participation (25%)

The grade pertaining to seminar participation will be based on your ability to discuss the readings of the week in an analytical and critical fashion. Thus, preparation for the seminar will involve not only the completion of the readings but also your consideration of some of the issues outlined in the readings prior to the class meeting. Of course, you will be expected to participate actively in the discussion but it is important to keep in mind that your grade for participation will be based on your ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the assigned readings. This means that the expression of general ideas or opinions will not alone suffice for a satisfactory seminar grade.

2) Seminar presentation and short paper (30%)

Class-members will be required to prepare a seminar paper (15%) and a 45-minute seminar presentation (15%) that will count for 30% of the final grade. The presentation will consist of a critical evaluation of the most important points raised in the readings. In preparing for a seminar presentation, class-members should assume a thorough knowledge of the readings on the part of the other participants and therefore a summary of the content is not required. A key aspect of the presentation should be to connect the main themes in the readings and to distinguish relevant areas for discussion in the seminar. The presenter (s) will be encouraged to use overheads, videos, and other audio-visual aids simply to make the presentation both stimulating and interesting. The presenter(s) will also be encouraged to distribute a short handout in advance to better prepare the class for insightful discussions on the topic at hand.   

This will also be the main subject of the short paper, between 5 and 7 pages in length, which is due in class on the day of the presentation. Class-members can choose to make their presentation in one of the following segments:

1)  weeks 2 to 7
2)  weeks 8 to 13.

The short essay will then be written for a different segment of the course (e.g. if you make a presentation in one of the seminars between weeks 2 to 7, then you will have to write the short essay based on the readings for weeks 8 to 12).

3) Short essay (15%)

The short essay, between 5-7 pages in length, will be based on the assigned readings for the course. Class-members wishing to expand on a particular topic should include additional sources, but the core of the paper must be developed using the arguments and perspectives presented by the authors of the assigned readings. Class-members can choose the focus of the paper but the assignment must be prepared in response to the arguments/themes raised in the readings for the week.

Class-members can also choose any week within the two sections listed above to complete the assignments but the paper is due the day of the seminar when the readings will be discussed. No extensions will be granted for the short paper.

4) Research paper (30%)

The research essay will involve research on a topic of interest to the class-members but you will need to discuss the focus and analytical framework of your paper with the course director in advance. Papers that have been written without prior approval will not be read/graded. Since you will need to do this well in advance, I would strongly encourage you to meet with me to discuss your essay proposal no later than early-October of 2013.

Late papers will be penalized two per cent per day of delay. The only exception is for certified medical illness or another similarly compelling reason. Time management problems are not an acceptable excuse. The essay will be between 12-15 pages in length, (double spaced, 12-point font), including the bibliography, and will be due on or before November 12.

Please note that all of the assignments will be graded on the following criteria: quality of research, nature of scholarship, strengths of written analysis, presentation/writing style.


Gilbert Rist (2008), The History of Development: from Western origins to global faith, 3rd ed., London: Zed Books.

All journal articles are available on line from Scott Library. All other readings marked with an * mark in the outline below are available also at the library.

Download Course Outline as PDF

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