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Unit information: Global Development in 2020/21

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Unit name Global Development
Unit code HIST20126
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lewis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

In this unit, we will explore the historical evolution of 'development' as an idea and an international project in the context of decolonisation and the global Cold War. We begin with the roots of development policy in Fabian Socialism and late colonial development plans. We then look at development in the context of the post-war liberal international order, including the creation of the United Nations system, including the World Bank and IMF. We examine development as an arena of competition for influence between the United States, the USSR, and China during the Cold War and beyond, from American initiatives around community development in the Philippines to Chinese railway projects in 1960s Tanzania. While this unit covers a broad range of development schemes – from housing the poor after the Korean War to hydropower dam projects in the world's most populous river basins – we also examine development from below, including the ways in which local actors responded and resisted these initiatives. In counterbalancing global narratives and local perspectives, this unit challenges us to think of development as a complex series of social and political processes, rather than as a purely economic process narrowly measured by wealth and growth.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and analyse key themes in the history of global development
  2. Understand and use historical methods specific to the study of global development.
  3. Discuss and evaluate the historiographical debates that surround the topic.
  4. Understand and interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points.
  5. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level I.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

1 x 3500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5]; 1 x Timed Assessment (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Nancy Kwak, A World of Homeowners: American Power and the Politics of Housing Aid (2015)

Jaime Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania (2011)

Daniel Immerwahr, Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development (2014)

Nick Cullather, The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia (2013)

Anna Tsing, Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (2004)

Christopher Sneddon, Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Land Reclamation (2015)