Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

This introductory course helps students learn to pose questions and analyze problems in the international development planning field. Not arguing for one "right" approach, the course draws on grounded empirical experiences -- historical and recent -- to help students navigate the way they approach their future work in developing-country governments, international organizations, and NGOs.


Five short written papers (up to 6 pages double-spaced) will be assigned throughout the semester -- roughly every two weeks (schedule below, and further details in class for each assignment). This is for the purpose of facilitating discussion of the readings in class. No late papers will be accepted. On the last day of class, students will recount in class a few ways in which their thinking about issues changed as a result of the readings (more detailed instructions later; students not able to attend the last day of class can arrange beforehand to submit the same assignment in writing). There will be no mid-term or final paper or exam, and the last paper will fall due at least one week before the end of the semester.


Grades will be based on participation in class, knowledge of the readings as demonstrated in class discussions, written assignments, and the extent to which students show improvement over the course of the semester. Attendance in class is obligatory.

Due Dates

Due dates for papers, and sections in the syllabus to be covered:

One day before Session #6 II - IV Sessions #2-7
One day before Session #10 V Sessions #8-11
Session #13 VI - VIII  Sessions #12-17
One day before Session #19 IX Sessions #18-21
One day before Session #23 X Sessions #22-25

Topics of Sections

I: Introduction
II: Historical Advances in Developing and Developing Countries: Lessons for Planning
III: Paths Toward Reform
IV: Planning and the "Right" Technical Choice

  • IVA: Traits of Technology as Determinant: Constraining and Facilitating
  • IVB: The Social Construction of Technical Choices

V: How Organizations Behave (Government, Firms, NGOs)

  • VA: Service-Delivery Organizatons and Civil Servants: Front-line Workers/ Street-level Bureaucrats, Professionals

VI: What Works and What Doesn't: Interpretations and Misinterpretations
VII: Working with Corruption
VIII: Traditional Institutions (Politics, Patronage, and Clientelism): Hinders, Helps, or Both?
IX: Implementation Experiences

  • IXA: Inter-agency Coordination, and Redundancy
  • IXB: Decentralization and Local Government
  • IXC: Mediating Inherent Disagreement and Conflict (Case study led by Prof. Xavier Briggs (Harvard JFKennedy School of Government/DUSP-HCED): double session, second half optional) 
  • IXD: Decentralization and Local Government (continued)

X: Public-Private Synergy between Government and Civil Society: Business Associations, NGOs, etc.

  • XA: Synergy
  • XB: Special Session: "Contested High Modernism: The Politics of Development Planning in Durban, South Africa" (Professor Patrick Heller and Bongani Ngqulunga (Brown University, Sociology Department): double session, second half optional)
  • XC: Synergy (continued)
  • XD: What History Tells Us

Last Class: Student Comments