POL 4178 [Political Economy of Development - Fall 2016]

*** ARCHIVED ***
POL 4178: The Political Economy of Development

Find course-related documents (Syllabus, Assignment Guidelines, etc.) on Blackboard. Current news stories related to our course below... (we will discuss these in class).

'The Political Economy of Development' in the NEWS:

Thursday, December 1st, 2016: The UN Population Fund's most recent state of the world population report brings together the key themes from our last two units - inequalities and gender. As this CBC News article notes, the report focuses on the potential and challenge of the large portion of the world's population that are youth, and even more specifically notes that by providing opportunities for girls at a young age (10) results in tremendous gains in the years ahead, both for that individual and the broader population. The UNPF's report webpage has a very cool interactive space - check it out!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016: What do trade and investment agreements have to do with global access to health care? Well, a lot! Consider this recent article in The Guardian identifying how the UK trade policy could help tackle global health inequalities - certainly a fitting topic for this week's unit on global inequalities today.

Thursday, November 14th, 2016: "If you want to promote prosperity and reduce poverty then you have to empower women... When you invest in women you invest in the health of the economy as a whole." These are words spoken by Patricia Leidl, co-author of The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, in this CBC news article from today. Good words to keep in mind as we delve into this week's theme - Gender and Development - imagining how the global economic system might differ if it adhered to some basic principles in feminist economics.

Tuesday, November 8th:
We’re doing things a little differently this week as we talk about development on the ground. Here are some links to online resources mentioned in the discussion workshop activity:

Workshop 1:
1. Ford’s article about working in the field of development: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/jan/19/workandcareers.graduates2
2. Abby Young-Powell’s (2016) article with tips for studying development in a master’s degree: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/28/studying-development-seven-tips-for-your-masters

Workshop 2:
1. William Easterly’s (2002) critique of “The Problem of Bureaucracy in Foreign Aid”: https://wp.nyu.edu/dri/wp-content/uploads/sites/2459/2015/08/cartelofgoodintentions.pdf

Workshop 3:

1. The Guardian’s Humanitarian Aid Quiz (2016): https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/may/20/humanitarian-aid-quiz-are-you-good-in-a-crisis

Credit: Robyn Beck (AFP Getty Images)
Tuesday, November 1st, 2016: Given this week's unit theme tackling environment and development, it might be an appropriate time to discuss the ongoing protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota - protests which have targeted the planned Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. As this New York Times article notes, the protesters and police have clashed, and tensions are mounting. For the members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their many allies, this is a fight to protect water and challenge a longstanding history of political, economic and legal marginalization of Indigenous people. For Energy Transfer (the company which owns the pipeline), this is about protecting private property rights and the rights of commercial enterprises to carry out lawful business and contribute to economic activity. How to proceed in these contentious situations - now that indeed is a question for the political economy of development. 

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016: OK, I realize we've been talking a lot about Haiti in class, but it seems appropriate; the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew raises so many issues and questions that we've been trying to confront in this course, such as whether (or under what conditions) official development assistance leads to dependency from recipient nations, and how local knowledges and solutions can be leveraged to build more robust development and resilient communities. As we talk about ODA and trade this week, and as we witness (in short news clips like this one) the complete devastation wrought by the hurricane on Haiti's agricultural areas, try to ask how a policy like "Aid for Trade" might (or might not) be used to help rebuild Haiti better than after the 2010 Earthquake.

NYTimes map of buildings destroyed (red) by Hurricane Matthew in Jérémie, Haiti
Tuesday, October 11th, 2016: The photos of Hurricane Matthew's aftermath in Haiti are gut-wrenching (see a recent compilation in the New York Times here), showing the incredibly destructive force of this natural phenomenon - brutally emphasized by the country's economic circumstances. As one of the poorest countries in the Americas, and having endured a massive earthquake only a few years ago, Haiti was already facing difficult development challenges. There is an assumption that 'growth' and 'economic development' would have built up Haiti's capacity to weather a storm of this magnitude, although the destruction of Jérémie - a Haitian town which had recently become a development 'success story' - calls that into question (as do the various states of emergency called in the US brought on by Matthew). Reflecting on Haiti's situation in the context of this week's unit theme - Post-Development - I find myself wondering whether the nation could have been better prepared (or less vulnerable) had it embarked on a post-development path in recent years... what do you think? 

Addendum (Oct 12th): Here's an article on CBC News which takes up the discussion we had in class last night about development in post-Earthquake and now post-Hurricane Haiti. 

Form p.3 of the World Bank's report Ending Extreme Poverty
Thursday, October 6th, 2016: This is not a 'good news' story: The World Bank and UN issued a joint report yesterday claiming there are some 767 million people living in extreme poverty world wide - and nearly half of them are children! Read a news story about the report here. Clearly this does not bode well for the prospects of the Sustainable Development Goals, which includes the goal of eradicated extreme poverty worldwide by 2030! The report talks about implementing better policy, programming and funding - "pre-natal care for pregnant mothers, early childhood development programmes, quality schooling, clean water, good sanitation and universal healthcare,” which is all fine and dandy, but the scale of the problem leads the political economist in me to wonder about the global governance of development and the global political economic structure. Something to think about as we discuss the neoliberal global structure this week, and move onto discussions about 'postdevelopment' next week.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016: Okay, it's not the most recent news story, but nevertheless relates to this week's unit theme "Keynesianism and Development in the Postwar Years" and the broader theme of the course - in this Guardian article on US economist Walt Rostow's (author, most notably, of The Stages of Economic Growth) contribution to development theory, we are reminded about the "inherently political nature" of development. This was particularly evident in the Cold War, when 'East' and 'West' sought to win over the so-called "Third World" through various developmentalist narratives, but it is certainly still true today... to be continued in class today!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016: Recently, the Guardian reported on ongoing civil discontent surrounding private water rights in ChileAccess to drinking water is a requirement for human life. Access to water for sanitation, irrigation, and manufacturing are also essential for a society's wellbeing and prosperity - it's development... but what is the best way to govern, regulate, and allocate this essential resource? Who gets to make such decisions about water? Who gets to own it (or should it even be a commodity in the first place)? Should there be a 'price' on water? If so, what's a fair price and what mechanisms will be in place to ensure the poor can access it? Who's accountable when it comes to water, to ensure it will be protected, cleaned up (when sullied), that it will be available to future generations? These questions about water governance are emblematic of the types of questions we ask in the political economy of development. And they are questions which will increasingly come to the fore in many nations contemplating the best way to govern essential resources like water, given challenges of resource depletion and despoliation, urbanization, and climate change.

Thursday, September 15th, 2016: According to David Pelling's article in the Financial Times today, Africa's economy is growing in "fits and starts". This relates to the "unevenness" we talked about in the class the other day. Pelling makes reference to a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute which takes a critical look at the "African Lions" and the "African Revival". To be discussed further in class today!

Monday, September 12th, 2016: "Economics 101 is obsolete in many ways" - this is my favourite quote in this CBC News article today (the words are spoken by Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets). Tal and other economists are decrying the way the "old rules" of economic theory don't seem to play out neatly in practice. Economic stats and data paint a murky and confusing picture, which ultimately require additional contextualization, detailed analysis and a critical eye towards what the theoretical models predict. I couldn't think of a better selling point for the field of "political economy" than this!

Monday, September 5th, 2016: The G20 Summit wrapped up in Hangzhou, China today. The group made a commitment to deepening global trade (in particular free trade agreements) as a means of boosting global economic growth (see this CBC news article). But the Canadian Prime Minister's comments at the Summit seem to suggest that the ideals of free trade and global interdependence are no longer taken for granted as G20 priorities: As this other article notes, Trudeau felt the need to come out on the defensive, arguing against the sort of "protectionist forces seen in the United States and Europe" in recent months. What difference do globalist vs. protectionist politics make for global development efforts?

AFP/Getty Images
Friday, September 2nd, 2016: The schools are burning! Or at least the sleeping quarters are. As this Guardian article reports, there have been a spate of arsons at high school dormitories in Kenya (more than 120 incidences in the last couple of months in fact). But why? While that's not entirely clear, the political economist in us tells us to look closely at some of the issues of disparity in wealth and power in Kenyan society, particularly as they affect the secondary schools system and youth, for potential clues as to cause.