11.005 | Spring 2015 | Undergraduate

Introduction to International Development


1 Introduction to International Development The welcome class will be an overview of the course. We’ll start with introductions, discuss the objectives and expectations for the class, and review the syllabus and class requirements. We’ll have a conversation about the instructor’s teaching style, mentoring, and issues of diversity. We’ll identify key data sources and competencies to be developed throughout the semester.
Unit 1: Critically Conceptualizing, Contextualizing, and Historicizing International Development
2 Development and the Colonial Legacy This session will discuss the role of Colonialism in shaping relationships of power and legitimacy between developing and developed countries. A better understanding of this history is intended to better contextualize the origins of Development paradigm.
3 The Ethical Underpinnings of Development

Ethics is one of the most important aspects of international development. Still the topic is yet to receive the proper attention from academics, policy-makers and practitioners. The policies, projects or businesses in the name of development carry the promise of a better life, but in many cases this promise falls short. In this class we will debate the importance of discussing the ethical implications of the interventions we come to support, before (especially), during, and after they are implemented.

Guest Speaker: Diego Laserna, MIT-DUSP Alum and City Council Candidate for the City of Bogota, Colombia in 2015.

4 International Development as Concept and Narrative We will discuss different interpretations of development. Students will be invited to engage and reflect upon their own biases. In addition, we will debate how relationships of power and agendas from different stakeholders shape how we conceive the “development story.”
5 Measuring Development Economic, human, and social aspects of development are usually described and evaluated through quantitative analyses. However, such endeavors are not always clear about their assumptions and limitations. In this class we dig deeper in these issues, providing the basis for a more informed judgment on the conditions under which measures of development are useful, and when they are misleading.
6 Identities in Development: Inserting “Who We Are” in Relation to a Diverse Development Context

International Development is a rather personal field. It confronts us with our deepest convictions and emotions. How we do and think about development is, in different degrees, a reflection of individual characteristics, such as our socioeconomic class, or cultural background. Studying and working in development, therefore, requires a great deal of self-reflection. The readings and the class discussion will be used to help students identify and question their own personal biases, and how they can address these through reflective practice.

Guest Speakers: Student of Color Committee DUSP-MIT.

Unit 2: Development: From Theories to Strategies
7 Modernization and Growth Paradigms This section will examine the first generation of development theories after World War II. We will seek to identify their commonalities and differences, assessing to what extent we can see their legacy influencing current policy agendas.
8 Easier Said than Done: Dependency and the First Challenges of the Development Agenda The 1960s and 1970s represented the first decades in which long-term development data was available. Technological advances provided more computational power as well as better communications. With the world closer and better informed, the limitations of the modernization paradigm became increasingly obvious. Unemployment, mass migration, and uncontrolled urbanization in the Global South were externalities that could no longer be offset solely through economic growth. In this class we will talk about this very turbulent period in the development history.
9 Development Strategies by Late-industrializing Countries The problem with approaching “International Development” as a dichotomy—developed versus underdeveloped—is that it neglects the fact that there is great variation in developing countries’ socioeconomic performance. In this class we will study how countries adopted different development strategies with varying results.
10 The Debt Crisis, Globalization, and the Rise of the Washington Consensus The 1980s and (at least most of) the 1990s were decades of considerable divergence in development. For countries in Latin America and Africa, for example, these were “lost decades,” with serious economic crises and eventual structural adjustments enforced by the IMF and the World Bank. On the other hand, in East Asia, countries like Korea and Taiwan managed to promote periods of growth and prosperity. Irrespective of these differences, the rise of neoliberalism and expansion of globalization were key forces determining the winners and losers of this global process. The class will discuss the relationships shaping these phenomena and how they contributed to the Aid architecture created in the aftermath.
11 Different Views on Why and How Institutions Matter for Development While today it is almost a consensus among development practitioners and scholars that institutions matter to development, this was not always so self-evident. Institutional economics has existed for a long time, but the rise of neoliberalism in the 1980s and 1990s created a special level of attention to the debate around which institutions matter for development, and how countries should go about creating them. For example, the social backlash caused by the excessively strict structural adjustments called into question how feasible it was to simply transplant institutions from developed to developing countries. Context, history, and culture matters. In this class we will seek to understand why.
12 Continuous Development: Recent Challenges of Transition for High, Medium, and Low Income Countries In a broad survey of the most recent happenings in the field, the class will discuss how the development challenge has posed different questions for different groups of countries. For example, while emerging economies have been struggling to escape the so called “middle-income trap” through more sophisticated industrial policy, developed countries fight to maintain their economy’s robustness and competitiveness without compromising their social contract. Poorer nations, on the other hand, are attempting different ways to promote economic growth, while consolidating democracy and reducing socioeconomic inequality. Based on the readings, the class will discuss the merits of different views on how to address these problems.
Unit 3: The Old International Aid Architecture and the New Development Context
13 International Development Across Scales: The Role of Organizations Linking a Complex Global System and the Implementation of Actual Interventions The debate involving international development assistance often eclipses issues of proportionality. That is, it is assumed aid flows are the single most important factor in the promotion of low-income countries’ economic growth. As a result, the debate is often limited to donor countries’ contributions, and how these contributions need to have the “best value for money.” In this class we will attempt to look at the global economy from a broader perspective, looking at less visible structural factors, which nonetheless hamper more decisively the potential of developing countries progress. These include an unbalanced international trade system, illicit or oversized global financial markets, and the shadow economy. Within the context, the class goes further analyzing particular instances in which these structural factors can influence the design, implementation, and performance of development initiatives.
14 An Evolutionary Account of the Bretton Woods System In this lecture the class will be presented with a historical and functional approach to how the Breton Woods System of multilateral institutions evolved from the postwar era, to the millennium development goals, to the post-2015 agenda. This will provide students with a valuable background about how global governance works.
15 “Good Government in the Tropics” and South-south Cooperation The fact that inequality and poverty persists in the world does not mean the “development project” has failed completely. Today the international development ecosystem is more complex and dynamic than it ever was. There are more actors, more options for trade and investment, and more mechanisms for knowledge and technology exchange. A more careful look at the experiences of developing countries allows us to identify much variation in performance. This class will talk about cases in which developing countries were successful in producing technical, economic and social outcomes despite expectations to the contrary. Moving beyond, we explore the emergence of South-south cooperation modalities, a process that allowed developing countries to further these successes by collaborating and learning from each other.
16 The Rise of NGOs and Foundations NGOs and, more recently, private charitable foundations have gained increasing popularity since the 1990s, amassing budgets that dwarf some of the most storied development agencies. Their rapid emergence in the field caused both praise for their evidence driven and efficiency approach, but also raised questions about accountability and legitimacy. The class will discuss the different sides of that story, evaluating the potential and limits of these not-for-profit development players.
17 The Newer Role of the Private Sector in Development: Collaborative Capitalism The Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) is the new capitalist frontier. One such that development is created through a market-based approach. The strategy consists of mobilizing the resources and scale of large firms (the leaders of this endeavor), with the knowledge and commitment of NGOs, governments, local firms and communities, working together to create solutions to the problems of the developing world. The realization of the untapped market is said to create a win-win situation in which large private actors gain access to billions of new consumers, poorer entrepreneurs have a chance to enter the market, and increased access to products and more dynamic economic ecosystem generates better development outcomes for everyone. This is the so-called Collaborative (Inclusive) Capitalism. While it is too early to measure the accuracy of such claims, critics already point out several limitations that accompany this approach. In this class students will be invited to debate the validity of such claims.
Unit 4: Connecting Developing Theory and Practice: First-hand Accounts on How Development is Practice in Different Sectors
18 Development through the Private Sector

Case 1 – Vaxess Technologies

Guest Lecturer: Livio Valenti, VP Vaxess Technologies.

19 Development through Government Initiatives

Case 2 – Food Security: Fome Zero x Opportunidades

The challenges of implementation are considered by many as one of the main challenges of development, where great ideas fall short before they can create a significant impact. In this first question of the Unit about linking theory to practice, we will analyze some of the literature on implementation first, using these frameworks to compare and contrasts two of major food security programs currently in operation in Brazil and Mexico.

20 Development by Fostering Complementarities across Sectors

Case 3 – Development, Science, and Innovation in Africa

Guest Lecturer: Prof. Calestous Juma, Harvard Kennedy School & MIT.

21 Development through Research

Case 4 – Understanding Development taking Gender Seriously

Guest Lecturer: Lauren Gurfein, PhD Student in Social Policy, University of Pennsylvania.

22 Group Presentations – Part 1 Teams present their final project for the class.
23 Development through Non-profit Organizations

Case 5 – The Epic Foundation

Guest Lecturer: Nicola Crosta, Executive Vice-President at The Epic Foundation.

24 Group Presentations – Part 2 Teams present their final project for the class.
25 International Development: From the Classroom to the Real World In the final class we will review the main topics discussed in class. In addition, students will have access in class to a comprehensive list of initiatives, projects, and organizations both within and outside MIT so they can continue to be engaged in the international development field.