Course Meeting Times

Seminar: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This introductory survey course is intended to develop an understanding of key issues and dilemmas of planning in non-Western countries. The issues covered in this course include:

  • the history, concepts and theories of development planning
  • the emerging role of non-Western countries as global economic players
  • the most urgent issues of development planning in the non-Western world that pose dilemmas for action and theory especially in the light of the current global economic crisis
  • the scales at which development planning takes place and their inter-relationship
  • the key actors and institutions who shape the content of development planning.

The issues covered by the course include state intervention, governance, law and institutions in development, privatization, participatory planning, decentralization, poverty, urban-rural linkages, corruption and civil service reform, trade and outsourcing and labor standards, post-conflict development and the role of aid in development.

Several themes run through the course. One such theme is the intimate link between planning, power and legitimacy, chiefly embodied in the state. Planning involves many actors, but always some governing authority with legitimacy. The approach to planning in this course involves the state as a governing authority, with the legitimate power to make changes that affect many other actors, in its unique role as the 'rule-maker' that determines the institutional framework for the operation of all other actors, while recognizing the growth of other governing actors at the local and global levels. Power also determines whether countries are able to plan, and if so, the kind of planning that they are able to do in a contested global arena. The language of legitimacy shapes how and by whom and in what form power can be exercised.

Another major theme of the course is that planning in developing countries is much more impacted by the ideas and actions of external actors, compared to planning in rich industrialized countries. This in turn makes the process of planning – the actors and institutional processes as well political sustainability – much more complex and unpredictable. The course also focuses on the history of planning and development in non-Western countries in order to better appreciate the achievements and limitations of planning efforts in the past. The impact of colonialism and imperialism on the political culture, institutional legacies, and economic prospects of developing countries needs to be understood. In focusing on this issue, the course would like to call attention to the importance of historical analysis in planning in developing countries.


There are no prerequisites for this course.


The course will illuminate current development challenges through published research in the field. The literature is rich, and across many disciplines in the social sciences. Case studies and real world examples, through interaction with planning practitioners, are drawn from around the world. The readings marked 'required' must be read carefully prior to class. Students are encouraged to prepare short outlines based on reading notes before coming to class. The readings marked 'recommended' are suggested to supplement, deepen and expand the issues raised by the required readings. While students don't have to read them all before class, they are strongly encouraged to read what they can in order to fully realize the potential of this course.


Class discussion 10%
Two reaction papers 30%
Group project presentation 20%
Final paper 40%