Global Studies (GLST) 695

Political Economy of Development - People, Processes, and Policies (Revision 1)

GLST 695 Course Cover
**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


In a constantly evolving global context how does the political economy approach broaden the focus of development programs and policies?  Political economy approach is guided by the questions of who owns what, does what, who gets what, what do they do with it, and what do they do to each other. Applying this approach to issues of development is very useful since it brings our focus to historical structures and institutional relationships in trying to change concrete conditions and to the contexts of development. This course thus uses the conceptual lens of political economy to provide a broad overview of the historical evolution of the dynamic and contested concept of development, its theoretical study, and its application in the domestic and international policy spheres.

Through a set of interrelated readings, commentaries, and interactive assignments, the course is designed to help the student achieve a more sophisticated understanding of the theories and practices of development; contrast the non-reductive multi-disciplinary focus of this course to the mainstream approach of development economics through a focused literature review; and develop original thoughts and ideas based upon available evidence and scholarship.

Learning Objectives

  • Define the complex and evolving concepts of “development” and “international development.”
  • Describe and explain the major theories of development in the postwar period.
  • Discuss historical continuities and divergences in the theory and practice of development.
  • Identify development issues and strategies in the contemporary era in various parts of the world.
  • Examine the role of the state on issues of development in the contemporary era.
  • Illustrate how development policies and processes are influenced by domestic and international trends.
  • Synthesize how the concepts of development and international development are responding to shifting global economic geography, as well as to the massive transfer of resources from the state to private economic entities.
  • Critically reassess development theory and practices in the era of economic globalization and global climate change.
  • Analyze examples of alternative development thought and practices.
  • Apply a non-reductive multidisciplinary focus on local and global development processes and perspectives.


The course consists of the following six units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Development Studies: Theory and Practice
  • Unit 2: A Long View of Economic History: Putting “Development” (and the Lack of It) Into Perspective
  • Unit 3: Development as a Domestic Policy Objective: The Role of the State 
  • Unit 4: International Development Aid: Then and Now
  • Unit 5: Development and Economic Globalization: The Enforcers and The Resisters
  • Unit 6: Challenges of “Development” in the Twenty-First Century: Inequality, iCapitalism, and Climate Change


Your final grade in this course will be based on the marks you achieve on two essay assignments.

Activity Weighting
Essay 1 40%
Essay 2 60%
Total 100%

To obtain credit for GLST 695, you must achieve a grade of at least 50% on both essay assignments. Students who do not receive a passing grade may request a rewrite within the contract period.

Course Materials

All course materials are entirely online and include course information, a study guide, a digital reading room (DRR), and links to articles and videos.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, May 19, 2017.