Because of its size, and because of the fact that you all have very different backgrounds political science and economics, this course will feature a combination of lecture and discussion. Typically, I will begin class with a short lecture (~30 minutes) that contextualizes the day’s material and incorporates terms and concepts that I believe are important but are not found in the reading materials. From there, we will begin a discussion based on your questions and comments. We will often conclude with another short lecture summarizing the significance of that day’s material in terms of the broader trajectory of the course. Occasionally, we will make use of group work or other in-class exercises, as well as films and video clips.
During our discussions, I expect that we will be able to develop a community of scholarship in which we share, discuss, and critique ideas. The state of social scientific knowledge on this topic is quite limited, as you will quickly discover. I do not have “Truth” (with a capital “T”) to disseminate on the topics we’ll be exploring together, and much of the intellectual work to be done in this class involves each of you parsing the various arguments and bits of evidence we’ll encounter into a (relatively) coherent narrative of what development means and how and why it happens. What I or any of the authors we will be reading have to say about development is by no means definitive.
All of this means that I have very high expectations for your participation during our time together. This kind of class can only work if you all come prepared by completing the reading assignments in a timely manner—one that allows you time to think about them, to come up with questions, arguments, and points of possible disagreement. Along those lines, I will provide you with a number of opportunities designed to reward you for your preparation. This kind of class also depends on your active participation in discussion, as an inquisitive and critical (but also civil) member of our community. If you do not believe that you can commit to completing the readings on time, to preparing for class discussions based on those readings, and to speaking up when necessary, then this class may not be appropriate for you. I believe that this goes without saying, but students are expected to be civil as we discuss what can sometimes be heated political issues. If you cannot behave accordingly, I will insist that you leave.