Development Theory and Skill-building Exercises (Grads)

These theory and skill-building exercises are intended to help you build on and synthesize the material we’re encountering in class, as well as begin to get a feel for the kinds of intellectual tasks a working development practitioner encounters. To be clear, none of these assignments duplicate the kinds of reports or assessments actually conducted int he development field; rather they exercise the same intellectual muscles, so to speak, in an academic setting.


EXERCISE #1 (Due Tuesday, October 2, in class, hardcopy):

Although we’ve tried to cover many of the most important theories and approaches to understanding what “kicks off” economic growth, and why it happens in some times/places more readily than others. That said, we’ve only scratched the surface. For this assignment, I’m asking you to select 2 books from this list, and to identify and analyze their “theories of development” in light of our overview of the field. The challenge here will be that while many books offer what amounts to a theory, not all are explicit in doing so. Your job is to read closely, find those theories, and discuss their merits. What are the assumptions your authors are making about why growth happens in some places and times? Do they offer lessons to countries struggling to grow in today’s world? Papers should be between 1000 and 1500 words (3-5 pages, double-spaced), in-text citations, bibliography.


EXERCISE #2 (due Tuesday, November 20 in class, hardcopy):

Drawing on data available from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), research the volume of official foreign aid flows (Official Development Assistance (ODA)) to a developing country of your choice in the most recent year available (most likely 2014 or 2015). You should be able to report on the total volume of aid flows (and indicate how that aid flow relates to the country’s GDP/GNI figures), the source(s) of aid flows, and what sectors the aid targets. Briefly compare those figures to two other logically comparable  neighboring developing countries in the same region. Use the USAID website to focus on aid from the United States and explain what kinds of projects, if any, the U.S. has funded in your country recently. Use the website to explain how the current aid flow to your country compares to past years in terms of volume and in terms of sources (where available). Present a clear summary of what you find using professionally formatted graphs or tables (made in Excel or otherwise) and explain what you have found and what the graphs/tables show in about 600-800 words. Cite all sources of data and/or external reports you draw on.