The seminar covers central concepts and controversies of development research and development cooperation. We will start by introducing key theoretical concepts of development and strands of critique. We will then discuss central controversies concerning normative ideas about developmental success/failure, and contemporary programmatic policy changes that characterise the developmental field. We will also engage with radically critical perspectives on the discourse and practice of development cooperation (e.g. based on post- and decolonial perspectives).

We put a special focus on addressing the role of private, transnational actors: the power and responsibility of large corporations as development actors, their regulation, and the development policy controversies around global trade policy, supply chains and financial markets. These represent particular challenges and at the same time key areas for international development. We approach them by linking development research with theories of transnational private governance and global political economy. We include empirical highlights on transnational development policy controversies about private corporations.

The seminar will enable students to deepen their knowledge of development concepts and political-economic paradigms and to critically engage with the sometimes contradictory assumptions and policies associated with them. Students will learn to critically reflect on the development discourse, its different theoretical approaches and related practices of development cooperation with a view towards engagement in their own research projects.

The course is open to students of MA Internationale Beziehungen und Entwicklungspolitik as well as MA Development and Governance.

Students are expected to attend regularly during (online or hybrid) sessions, to read assigned texts, and to engage actively and regularly in our discussions.