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PWR 1EP: Global Development and Social Change

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Opportunities to contribute to global equity have never been more abundant. You can volunteer at an orphanage, an ecovillage, an underserved school, the site of a recent national disaster. You can donate to organizations, share Angelina Jolie speeches, and post viral hashtags. Meanwhile the United Nations Millennium Development goals are trying to eradicate all extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, and achieve gender equality by 2030. Turn on a screen and somebody is going to tell you to feed the children, go to a benefit concert, or buy a T-shirt and save the world. Since World War II, international development projects have marked every sector of global society.

Our course texts, including reports from the World Bank, UNDP, grassroots organizations, as well as excerpts from Maggie Black’s No Nonsense Guide to International Development will help us begin to unpack and interrogate the numerous discourses around international “development” as a strategy for achieving social change. We will look at how culture, history, politics, and economics have informed development’s connections to capitalism, modernity, and more recently, the pursuit of racial and social justice.

We will also examine the consequences of development discourses in terms of which places are perceived as “underdeveloped,” as we note the ways in which the development “problems” and “solutions” are constructed within different practices and embedded within global power relations, and religious and educational institutions. Finally, we will compare and contrast the rhetoric behind various approaches to development, including an analysis of Bhutan’s model for measuring gross national happiness; the top-down approaches of larger organizations and more participatory, locally-based grassroots models for social change.

Major Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis

(1200-1500 words; 4-5 pages): For this assignment, you may analyze a website, report, blog, or other communication material from a development project, organization, or campaign advocating for or protesting some form of development. You’ll analyze the rhetorical strategies that it employs taking into account the intended audience, and the medium in which it is communicated.

Texts in Conversation

(1800-2400 words; 6-8 pages): For this assignment you will choose a debate within the field of international development and social change and analyze a variety of material including academic articles, reports, newspaper and magazine pieces and blogs. You will then synthesize the material to provide an in depth picture of the issue. You might, for example, discuss various approaches to development and their critiques; you might delve into the literature on post-development and alternative approaches; you might want to analyze the impact of media and/or celebrity involvement on our perceptions, as well as the role of religious and/or educational institutions in shaping our understanding of and commitment to development and social change.

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages): You will use the materials gathered from the previous assignment to make a compelling and convincing research-based argument. You might make an argument for or against a specific development organization or project; you might make an argument for the way in which the media, religious and/or educational institutions have informed our sense of moral obligation in the context of development and social change; you might argue for a different discursive approach to development, or perhaps propose an alternative(s).