Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, INTERNATIONAL STUDIES ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 23 February 2018

Teaching Global Development Studies

Summary and Keywords

Several resources are available for teaching global development. Textbooks, for instance, often follow models reminiscent of comparative politics textbooks. In them, space is accorded to the general history of development and the self-determination movements following World War II, a discussion of different theoretical perspectives on development, followed by country case studies or sectoral issues. Other textbooks may choose more regional approaches to analyze development, critical of state-based development theory and practices and who see regional development models as correctives of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. Still others use cross-cutting themes of global development and political economy as their intellectual “infrastructure”, augmented by historical and cultural research across global regions, with concerns about gender, household level development, and non-state actors as stakeholders. Other resources include resources include numerous professional and academic journals devoted to development and development studies, including the Journal of International Development, the Third World Quarterly, and Development and Change. Among nonacademic resources are nongovernmental organizations, international and multilateral organizations, and policy “think tanks” that produce development programming, data, and analysis. Interactive methods, media, and educational resources are also recommended for teaching of global development. Teaching with interactive methods promotes more student directed learning, assists in developing critical thinking, encourages communication and analysis skills, helps to personalize abstract material, and bridges gaps between theoretical material and real circumstances.

Keywords: global development, teaching, textbooks, nonacademic resources, interactive methods


Few words could be a stronger endorsement for the teaching of global development than those provided by the then newly elected president of the International Studies Association (ISA) as the organization moved into the new millennium. Heading an interdisciplinary and global organization, Professor Craig Murphy admonished those involved in international studies that the political implications of the new global inequalities should form both a teaching and a research agenda, and that this was particularly important for undergraduate education. According to Murphy, the world faced the paradox that precisely when significant political gains in global democratization were removing barriers and constraints among citizens and states, an increasing economic and social disequilibrium brought on by globalizing forces minimized those dramatic and positive effects. What ensued was a demand for teaching that could bring greater understanding about the importance of protracted social conflicts, global health challenges, gender politics, and the possibilities brought by individuals with extreme economic and intellectual privilege (Murphy 2001). In an age of Millennium Challenge Goals, Corporations, and Accounts, the millennium’s new and older global inequalities provide reasons to bring more attention to the teaching of international economic, political, and social development and their historical impact.

Echoing such sentiments was the declaration by the United Nations that there should be a renewed emphasis on global development education that could be linked to the millennial challenges of reducing global poverty, illiteracy, food insecurity, and other markers commonly associated with conditions of underdevelopment. A review of the theories, themes, issues, and resource materials devoted to the teaching of global development becomes an apt coincidence with the UN’s 2002 declaration that the years between 2005 and 2015 would become the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development under the coordinating guidance of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

This essay reviews recent currents in the literature of teaching global development while summarizing available resources. Much of this literature is aimed at undergraduate education. The value of nonacademic professional sources of information receives comment, as does the importance of interactive education and resources for the teaching of global development. In particular, the use of case studies, simulations, and nontraditional media such as literature and film will be addressed. Closing off the evaluation on teaching global development are thoughts about experiential education or travel education, and how these experiences might be incorporated into the classroom. Critical comments regarding what gaps remain for teaching global development, brief conclusions, and a listing of easily accessible web-based resources complete the essay’s analysis.

Resourcing the Teaching of Global Development

Though dated, William Savitt’s curriculum guidebook on pedagogical and theoretical issues in the teaching of global development (Savitt 1993) remains of historical interest. It provided an extensive annotated bibliography on development education and issues of the day, a diverse range of development course syllabi, and essays related to key conceptual and methodological questions for the development studies classroom. The themes in the book’s bibliography suggested something about the breadth of content that challenges the teacher of global development. But whereas the book’s themes of development theory, development economics, the environment, food security, gender and development, democratization, interdependence, and refugees have not lost their importance for the development field, noticeable today would be the lack of annotations for conflict and development, post-development theory, humanitarian assistance and intervention, sustainability, ethnicity and development, information technology, non-state actors, the tragedy of HIV/AIDS in the developing world (particularly in Africa and the Indian subcontinent), and many other important sectoral considerations. Similarly, the book’s annotated syllabi reinforce the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary nature of global development by including samples from African (regional) studies, anthropology, economics, environmental studies, geography, political economy, international affairs, and women’s studies. It would also be easy to conceive of global development syllabi that originate in the disciplines of business or public administration, colonial history, media studies, global literature, comparative foreign policy, and engineering science testifying to an ongoing evolution of what constitutes “international development” and the content that anchors its study. Lastly, Savitt’s contributing essayists question the number and efficacy of past and present theories of development (up until 1993), review interactive options for the classroom, identify ethical dimensions of what can be a highly technical field of field-based applications, and wonder about the alternative insights that modern media and global literatures bring to the subject, while investigating the use of service learning and advocacy by students for their projects. Yet, essays regarding postmodern theory or World Systems theory, critical appraisals of nongovernmental organizations in development, essays that relate globalization to development, links between trade, debt, and foreign assistance, or the possibilities of distance learning (among many others), would surely warrant a spot in a more currently published volume. What Savitt’s older text provides are insights in the continuity and changing dimensions of theory and application that face the teacher of global development.

The general breadth of the field of global development can be both strength and weakness for a single classroom experience. Certainly the breadth of global development theory has evolved since what many consider its origins in the post-World War II order. Indeed the diversity of development debates across time could be an organizing factor for the teaching of global development. That would be a significant analytical tool for John Rapley’s Understanding Development: Theory and Practice in the Third World (Rapley 2007). Rapley depicts a cycle of theory choices that move between state-led or market-led organizing principles since World War II, ending in today’s more eclectic theoretical modeling. The diverse debates across time over theoretical choices for development practice also anchor the meticulous assemblage of formative source articles in Mitchell Seligson and John Passe-Smith’s regularly updated Development and Underdevelopment: The Political Economy of Global Inequality (Seligson and Passe-Smith 2008). Compilations of current journal and more popular articles such as found in the Developing World series for Annual Editions (Griffiths 2008) are other efforts for covering a waterfront of development issues, actors, and regional debates.

There are growing numbers of general textbooks on global development in publication, many of which follow models reminiscent of comparative politics textbooks. In them, space is accorded to the general history of development and the selfdetermination movements following World War II, a discussion of different theoretical perspectives on development, followed by country case studies or sectoral issues. Introduction to the Politics of the Developing World (Joseph et al. 2007) is representative of these where, after a unit focused on the more universal aspects of the developing world (history, colonialism, transitional politics and democratization, political economy), their themes are examined in depth across individual case studies (China, India, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria). Other textbooks may choose more regional approaches to analyze development (Weatherby et al. 2007), critical of state-based development theory and practices and who see regional development models as correctives (Payne 2004) of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. Still others use cross-cutting themes of global development and political economy as their intellectual “infrastructure”, augmented by historical and cultural research across global regions, with concerns about gender, household level development, and non-state actors as stakeholders (Green and Luehrmann 2003; Payne and Nassar 2008). General textbooks on international political economy may include chapters on development economics, hunger and sustainability, debt and trade (Balaam and Veseth 2008). The use of a general textbook can be enhanced by more interactive educational approaches helping to counter the abstractions that can be associated with underdevelopment and poverty.

A criticism of general textbooks on global development would be that they too often view the prospects and problems of development through the lenses of the most developed nation-states. By doing so, they remove the narrative of development and underdevelopment from those who lived it, and make spectators of developing states and peoples. One is reminded of Walter Rodney’s classic argument in his How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Rodney 1981), as well as Edward Said’s in Orientalism (Said 1978). An impressive yet older effort to offer developing people voice was Deepa Narayan’s project through the World Bank Voices of the Poor: Can Anyone Hear Us? (Narayan 2000), where the crises of development and the realities of impoverishment are learned through the narratives gleaned from hundreds of interviews. In addition, other general and introductory textbooks on global development highlight a more intentional approach to the issues, systems, and actors of development as perceived by the Global South, in Barbara Thomas-Slayter’s Southern Exposure (Thomas-Slayter 2003) or John Isbister’s Promises Not Kept (Isbister 2006).

A final set of resources include the numerous professional and academic journals devoted to development and development studies. Several of these that cover a wide range of development concerns include the Journal of International Development, the Third World Quarterly, Development and Change, the IDS Bulletin, Development Policy Review, Gender and Development, and the European Journal of Development Research. More specialized content journals include Disaster, Journal of Agrarian Change, or the Journal of Peasant Studies. Other journals cater to development practitioners and professionals, such as Development in Practice, Agricultural Education and Extension, and a no-cost, online journal published through the United States Agency entitled Journal of Education for International Development.

Though most major publishing houses offer books devoted to development studies, several publishers have concentrated on the field with diverse catalogue listings. Attention should be drawn to the United Nations University Press, Lynne Rienner Publishers, the Kumarian Press, the political economy sections of M.E. Sharpe and Transaction Publishers, Palgrave Publishing, and for more critical perspectives and the global development regime to Zed Books. Oxford University Press and Johns Hopkins University Press have published many books and monographs for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Websites for all the above provide access to their catalogues and development listings.

Nonacademic Resources

It may go without saying, but there has always been a close connection between theories of global development, the historical record of global development, and those who practice global development. Indeed, some of the most significant information sources on global development are operational institutions that either influence or produce development policy. The operational development community of nongovernmental organizations, international and multilateral organizations, and policy “think tanks” are relevant and important for being part of the content of developmental studies and thus, in need of assessment and review. But they also produce development programming, data, and analysis, and their information and output will likely be a part of the teaching of global development. Often their data will be the most current and from which others’ analysis progresses. Instructors must be able to evaluate their sources with the usual cautions regarding bias, providing their classrooms opportunities for multiple comparisons.

Considering the international and multilateral institutions first, the United Nations system of functional agencies provides broad opportunities for in-depth and comparative analysis. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) publishes its annual Development Report, a standard analytical tool for addressing development trends, issues, and data. Indeed, UN materials provided the mainstay of development information for the promotion of critical thinking in some courses (Salem and Freeman 2002), and past publications are available for download from the UNDP website. Sector-specific statistics, graphs, and mapping analysis (such as the ability at the World Health Organization’s website to create global or regional maps based on current prevalence of select diseases and public health constraints) are tools made available for users at the sites of all of the UN’s functional institutions. In addition, each UN program site provides archives of past material as well as current book and report publications.

Few sites (other than perhaps the Central Intelligence Agency) provide as much and as diverse a data bank on different aspects of economic development as does the World Bank. Online tools draw on decades of collected data able to be done comparatively across countries or for single nation-states. Like UNDP, the World Bank’s annual World Development Report remains a resource staple for data and trends analysis highlighting a yearly theme to development more thoroughly. Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) provide similar capabilities for data retrieval and analysis for their respective concentrations. Like the other bodies of the UN system, these make available archival information, policy information, and publication catalogues featuring their reports and books. The World Bank has also created curriculum instruction programming available online for the high school social studies class that might be augmented for older students. As these agencies draw considerable criticism for their policies and performance, the instructor should take efforts at diversifying materials and drawing attention to the reasons for such criticisms.

Regional organizations representing donor countries and more recipient states provide a third institutional portal for information useful in teaching global development. The sites for the European Union or the Southern African Development Community provide links to other regional organizations, websites of member state departments (and their available statistical reports), and other multilateral institutions, while providing policy and program information, reports, and archives about their development programming. Much of this information is available in multiple languages.

The bilateral foreign assistance organizations of individual states are also sources of official development program objectives and missions, contact information for program and project desks, statistical data, and project files. Each employee can, where accessible, become a potential extension of the class, many of who are open to at least considering using their time for educational purposes. European agencies (such as the Department for International Development/DFID in the United Kingdom), the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or the United States Agency for International Development, amongst many others, provide information about current programs either by sectoral project or country portfolio, information about partnerships, mission and policy statements, and statistical information. Experience has shown that agency employees are interested in sharing their time with students.

Nongovernmental organizations are equally important sources of data and perspective, though it may be more difficult to find reliable information from local, indigenous, or grassroots NGOs around the world. Statistical information is likely to be more specialized, with possible limited access. NGOs offer a plethora of information regarding the philosophy and mission of the organization, providing spirited discussions about development assumptions and non-state actor agency. Two specialized annual publications devoted to development issues, produced by NGOs on account of their mission statements, are the “Hunger Report” of the Bread for the World Institute, and the Refugee Report provided by the US Committee for Refugees. Both organizations’ principal tasks are devoted to public policy advocacy and secondarily to education.

As with the expansion of influence by NGOs for development and development instruction, there has been an increase in the number of global think tanks engaged with world policies either broadly or more narrowly by issues. The long-standing Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR, also linked to the broader United Nations System) hold vast collections of research reports, case studies, and data files. Covering concerns related to issues of production, consumption, distribution, health, or conservation in the areas of livestock, fisheries, grain staples, biodiversity, forests, water management, and public policy development, the information network of the CGIAR system represents one of the largest, if not the largest, set of information holdings focused on the multiple fields of food security. The websites of the 15 centers based around the world offer their own storehouses of program, trend, and statistical information, as well as links to hundreds of global organizations focused on common development challenges. The Center for Global Development provides ongoing development policy analysis and acts as a producer of public policy ideas to spark national and international discussions on what might be required for future development policy directions.

The mainline operations and policy field for global development information, is also filled with organizations critical of current development policies and more actively pursuing sustainable development approaches over the primacy of economic growth strategies. The Philippines based organization, Focus on the Global South, critically examines the work of Western dominated development institutions, such as those of the Bretton Woods System, as well the values of globalization for development. Food First, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy based in the United States, mediate with agencies of the Global South to provide stronger voice and alternative forms of information about development issue insights than comes from those already mentioned above. Each of these centers’ websites not only continues the important task of publishing research from developing country analysts critical of dominant development ideologies, but provides access to networks and agencies operating in the Global South. A short list of organization websites to augment classroom teaching is provided at the end of this essay.

Teaching Global Development Aided by Interactive Education

Years ago after coming back from a building construction weekend with a Habitat for Humanity College Chapter begun at his first full-time college position, the present author was a little shocked when students confided that this had been their first connection to poverty and people living in poverty. The concepts of poverty and the poor were mostly removed from their experiences, and the terms remained abstractions. Connecting their thoughts with their affective experience was a significant step before more substantive relationships could be made between public policy, economic activities, or the divergent cultures of affluence and marginalization. It is not difficult to imagine that any separation of experience or knowledge from the developing world, issues of underdevelopment, or perceptions of the Global South, could be at least as large as those recalled from the above journey back to campus. Although experiential education in global development promotes learning breadth and depth (discussed below), for many students and classes it is likely to be cost prohibitive or difficult to schedule. Some of the benefits that arise from international experiential education – such as a greater contextual understanding, a more nuanced awareness of the constraints versus opportunities of development, enriched perspective of the political nature of development programming – may be captured though the use of interactive pedagogies and alternative media. Barring the general possibility that teaching global development can be done onsite, interactive educational methodologies can enhance the teaching of global development by placing more responsibility on the student learner to make connections and develop the questions and critical appraisal demanded by a growing awareness of a globe full of social, political, economic, and technological gaps.

The benefits of using interactive methods, media, and educational resources for the teaching of global development are many and well known. Teaching with interactive methods promotes more student directed learning, assists in developing critical thinking, encourages communication and analysis skills, helps to personalize abstract material, and bridges gaps between theoretical material and real circumstances. One respected approach to thinking about interactive methodologies for the classroom has been to focus on the use of case studies, simulation games, and innovative technologies (Lantis et al. 2000). Lantis and his colleagues provided sizable bibliographies for the application and theory surrounding the use of case study, simulation, and technology for the instruction of international studies. The case for case studies and simulation activities will be followed below, but in addition, nontraditional media alternatives such as the use of literature and film resources will be also discussed as avenues of instruction that accomplish similar ends.

Case studies are narrative stories that have a teaching–learning agenda requiring the student to wrestle either with the information or with a potential set of decisions and outcomes. The first of these may be retrospective case studies where the case provides all of the relevant information for the case, including the outcomes and decisions taken by leaders and stakeholders. The benefit promotes student analysis on the decision making process as it seeks to better understand what occurred and why. Other cases inform the student leading up to the decision(s) taken, turning the discussion of decision making and analysis back upon the students. The latter style of case asks the student for their decisions or outcomes.

Those who analyze the teaching of global development identify two challenges for the teacher and the classroom (Hey 2000). The first challenge points to the limited amount of background information or personal contact and experience that a student of development issues and histories has. Jeanne Hey refers to this as the “human problem,” and this challenge hearkens back to the earlier Habitat for Humanity and poverty story. Information about the developing world is usually fragmented and can be characterized by stereotypes. The second challenge refers to the limited materials that begin their theoretical analysis from within the developing world. Hey calls this the “academic problem” and connects this challenge to the fact that most of what is published and available will be written through the lenses of North American and European scholars. The latter challenge is reminiscent of an effort taken up by the international NGO, Panos, in the 1980s to develop a series of materials about global development using journalists from the developing world to write about their contexts, or one by the author while working for Bread for the World to focus on food security policies in Africa by using national food security professionals working in indigenous African organizations who could detail successful programming and outcomes.

There are various repositories and distributors of case studies related to developing world issues and policies, and some references are given in the closing section on web-based resources. But at least according to Hey, though the human and academic challenges of development studies may be lessened by the use of case studies, other problems remain. The limited number of available cases is problematic, but so is the fact that most of those that are available have been constructed by northern scholars who use materials and references written and published by other northern scholars and institutions. Questions about subject authenticity skewed by theoretical and methodological assumptions remain.

Simulation games that use role play are efforts to temporarily remove the student from familiar conditions and into some of the difficulties experienced by developing peoples and contexts. Depending on the simulation, the student may experience the politics of development issues and decisions; the challenge of having multiple stakeholders in global development; the competition between equally worthy goals and human needs; or the conflicting demands between donors and recipients and how these may redefine processes that hoped to achieve participatory decision making.

The benefits of using simulation games are those of any more interactive medium. Simulation games try to reduce the abstractions between development concepts/theory and development realities, and through the use of role play, personalize the difficulties and challenges of the developing context. Games can be classroom experiments thus offering chances to students at theory construction and evaluation. Simulation games can stimulate discussion, especially more holistic discussion, by providing the time for students to respond to changing “on-the-ground” circumstances (in the game), and to consider the reasons for those changes. This allows simulation games to convey more information than cases because they are dynamic – and not static – instruments for learning. The decision making process of the simulation is enhanced by the factors of time and the relationship between the players that are established through the game’s rules and the intended outcomes of the game. One decision leads to another, but not the same decision from game to game.

The potential for surprise, success, and failure for the players contributes to the many lessons that become discussion points in the “debriefing” sessions that must follow the game’s ending. Indeed, the success of the game (not that all the outcomes need to be successes or positive outcomes) will be directly related to how well any preliminary activities required to prepare the students for the game were handled. Students need first to understand their roles, any important operating rules and limitations, the objectives of the game, and what incremental stages of the game mean for the flow of the activity. Second, debriefing after the game’s conclusion is critical to respond to any ambiguities experienced during the game, any multiple conclusions or outcomes, personal as well as role differentiation issues, and the different layers of learning experienced while performing the game. Simulation games have been used in international development classes and students often find that the games are invaluable for bringing together multiple concepts and norms, theoretical choices, and the arduous and emotional process undertaken by leaders of development.

Simulation games also have pedagogical problems. In order for them to work and be used in a relatively short amount of time, simulation games must be simplified examples of the real universe. For those critical of game theory and rational choice models on account of their oversimplification, or generalization of complex economic and political processes, simulation games may provoke similar questions. Simulation games may resemble real time and contexts, but they are not real. Case studies have the benefit of factual information and data, not always achieved in simulation games. Simulations generally require specific numbers of players, especially if they are team based (as opposed to computer technology simulation games where individuals play with or against a common program). Too few or too many players may impact the game negatively and the instructor will need to make changes. Rapidly changing ideas about global development make older simulations obsolete and irrelevant. Available simulation games also face many of the same problems regarding their origin, the assumptions taken in their design and the educational lessons they convey, and their general reliance on scholarship from the developed world already addressed under the issues using case studies. Finding available simulation games for the teaching of global development can be more difficult than finding case studies. In The New International Studies Classroom, all of the simulation game exercises discussed related to global conflict and security or foreign policy decision making regarding war, while business simulation games are not directed toward public policy and public administration.

The Pew Case Studies series through Institute for the Study of Diplomacy is a source for case studies as well as some game simulation descriptions. A listing of currently available simulation games shows 13 game description papers of which most relate regionally to the United States and/or Europe, and in content most lean toward security issues. Two simulations focus on development issues in the broadest sense and both of these have as much to do with issues facing countries of the Global North with their resource needs (natural gas pipeline negotiations, and intellectual property rights negotiations through the World Trade Organization) as they do with Global South issues (see the annotated simulation game index through the catalogue of cases at, accessed May 4, 2009, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University).

A somewhat older simulation game for development studies, which is still available and relatively inexpensive, uses two primary stakeholder groups who have common issue interests with each other, but reflect different political levels of society similar to grassroots organizations and those at the provincial or state level of authority (Vengroff 1998). The game promotes theoretical discussion about whether development is mainly for the purposes of economic growth and productivity, for the satisfaction of human needs, or to extend social and cultural goals such as pluralism and tolerance. Donors and their preferences factor into the game as well as issues of long-term project sustainability. The game requires three days coupled with any preparation and debriefing time. Thus, the playing of the game could take up to two weeks of available class time in what is likely to be a semester congested by multiple issues and limited time.

Computer based digital simulations have become more important but not necessarily more accessible. Duke University and the University of North Carolina collaborated on a digitally based simulation game training program entitled “Virtual Peace.” The program is meant to be a realistic program and classroom experience to develop decision making capacity in the aftermath of a disaster or the onset of a humanitarian intervention, or in other words, at the beginning of the programmatic continuum running between disaster relief and sustainable development. Other digital games focus on the competing issues between global climate change, development, and energy use (Ulrich 1997).

Some nongovernmental organizations offer a simulation activity to probe the normative issues of a specific concern of global development, such as food insecurity and global hunger. Oxfam is an international development service, education, and advocacy organization begun in the United Kingdom with numerous partners worldwide and with many different issue-based programs. Oxfam designed and has offered for many years the information and resource materials required to host a “Hunger Banquet,” an event that examines hunger and the systemic and structural causes of global hunger. Related partners offer parallel activities timed to coincide with other national and international food insecurity events (see, accessed May 4, 2009). As many of the human needs issues that abound in subjects on global development carry ethical relationships to the concerns of social justice, religious organizations provide for their constituencies resources, game materials, and other educational media based on their ideological and theological commitments. A typical example of this would include the “Hunger Campaign” materials of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (, accessed May 4, 2009). And though the materials are for younger ages, the UK based NGO, Jubilee Debt Campaign, provides many educational materials, games, and simulations aimed at convincing audiences about the development constraints of global debt while encouraging activism.

The interactive teaching of global development may also involve the use of less traditional media, namely, the use of fiction and more popular films. Fiction and feature films have the capability of moving readers into their stories to offer different, diverse, and at times, more holistic perspectives on development. These resources can increase discussion while developing important tangent themes or concerns. Fiction can minimize or erase the boundaries between abstract information and “real” events. Marginalized or less studied contexts can be given fuller attention. Fiction and feature films can promote interdisciplinary learning. They personalize the information and interdependent issues found when teaching global development. They may help achieve not only informational competence but also greater understanding.

There are difficulties here as well, not the least of which may be the logistics of classroom time. Feature films can trade factual history for narrative needs, weaving in other materials for non-historical purposes. Considering that so many feature films are produced in the United States and Europe (although this is changing rapidly), there is always the challenge of regional perceptions and bias that see global realities solely through an American or European lens. On the other hand, non-Western films and fiction may be more difficult to find. Similar criticisms or cautions can be leveled against the use of fiction.

Robert Gregg’s book, International Relations on Film, is a summary text tying together theoretical and pedagogical issues when using films to teach international relations (Gregg 1998). Although aimed at broader treatments of international politics than only global development, Gregg discusses the use of films related to economic interdependence, development, civil violence, and nationalism.

Tom Zaniella’s book, The Cinema of Globalization, provides annotated descriptions of films and documentaries that relate to today’s globalized economy. The Cinema of Globalization is a useful interdisciplinary resource offering analysis and film criticism on the system of globalization and the many economic, cultural, and technological issues of globalization featured in films from around the world. Some of the subcategories discussed in the book’s introduction and used to classify the films would be easily recognized in any development or international economics course – global capital, global labor, transnational corporations, deregularization and privatization, anti-globalization, intellectual property rights, or scarce resources. Other film subjects may diversify the average class – oil, China, containerized shipping, export processing zones. Though Zaniella provides information about films from all parts of the world, most of the films and documentaries reviewed still originate in North America and Europe (Zaniella 2007).

Civil society groups, universities, and commercial organizations become sources for films and documentaries to teach global development. Because of a historical mission toward the nations of the developing world as well as significant resources spent on development issues or during times of crisis, a number of international NGOs provide film libraries usually at little or no cost to the lender. Although related to religious bodies, the American Friends Service Committee and the lending library through Church World Service have extensive and nonsectarian archives of films and documentaries devoted to the themes of development and underdevelopment in the Global South. Regional archives of films (those that specialize in African film or Latin America but not only devoted to development issues) are housed at various universities. Some film resource sites are listed in the “Online Resources” section of this essay. In addition, several commercial organizations sell documentaries and films for classroom use, while others distribute regionally produced feature films. Romero is an older film that explores interconnected political and economic problems facing developing states, and students have responded well to a more recent film entitled The Devil’s Miner.

Fiction also encourages interactive learning for the teaching of global development. Like a film, fiction may engage the student with stimulating stories, liven up teaching by opening up alternative worldviews and contexts for discussion, increase subject interest by personalizing remote and abstract material, make important that which might be overlooked, bridge the gap between theory and reality or those between academic disciplines, and encourage the student to imagine what may lie ahead for tomorrow’s global communities. Attention should be paid to the question of whose literature to use, and how accessible are literatures from the developing world.

There are many articles and some texts that construct a teaching theory and curriculum for international studies, international relations, or foreign policy through the use of literature (Sheeran 2007). Fiction can help draw out the importance of ideas for the political world – whether about the causes of conflict (Dougherty 2003), or the relationship between power and legitimacy (Cowell-Meyers 2006) for governance, or the roles of norms, ethics, and personal virtue alongside power in international relations theory (Lang and Lang 1998), or the importance of culture and identity in political behavior (Goodman 1992). However, there are no texts that attempt a broad analysis on the use of fiction for the teaching of global development. A current regional studies series by the publisher, Lynne Rienner, reviews contemporary affairs across much of the developing world and includes chapters summarizing the importance of indigenous fiction to better understand those regions. Though they may make reference to issues of development in regional fiction, the chapters focus more broadly on contemporary challenges in politics, economics, culture, and society. One specific article on the benefits of using fiction to better understand theories of development was Morgan’s case study using Barbara Kingsolver’s book, The Poisonwood Bible, for the teaching of international political economy and development. The case identified that students’ understanding of the differences among the claims of various development theories was enhanced by the characters and context portrayed by Kingsolver in this pre- and post-independence novel set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Morgan 2006).

None of this removes the work required of the instructor to discern what sources of fiction are applicable for the global development course. Nor do the writers remove the choice of how to use their fiction – whether as an introductory piece to begin long-term discussions; to connect and summarize a semester’s worth of themes; to begin a creative thought process that underscores the important class themes that lie ahead; or to expand on themes less often covered by traditional classroom texts (Turner 2005). The already stated critique against the use of some films, whether they can be adequately independent of their contexts and origins to be useful (consider Edward Said’s arguments about Western, European, and by extension American influence on the literary novel form in his Culture and Imperialism, 1993) applies also to fiction.

Choosing literature for instruction can be a difficult activity, especially if effort is taken to find works from the Global South to focus on economic, political, or social development. Some commercial publishers offer selections from non-Western authors. The Lynne Rienner Publishing offers an extensive listing of global literatures and provides regionally annotated catalogues. In the United Kingdom, Heinemann Publishing has offered its African Writers series (and also an Asian Writers series) for nearly half a century. The African Books Collective offers titles from African authors who would not have access to larger audiences and markets. Margaret Jean Hay’s edited volume of African Novels in the Classroom (2000) provides descriptions of 24 books and authors from across the continent to be used for different courses in the social sciences. Because of the importance of literature for regional studies, a number of authors and publishers of regional studies textbooks include chapters that integrate writers and their works with historical movements and events, weaving their stories and poems with political, economic, and cultural analysis. The possibilities found on the internet for online published and country-specific materials, short stories, essays, and poems are endless, and so are the commercial and academic search lists with linkages to global authors and poets and portions of their work from around the world.

Experiential Education and the Teaching of Global Development

Not all colleges or universities have the possibility to offer an experiential format to teach global development courses, nor would all students have the available resources. However, if the university program provides more than one course option for global development, then the potential for an experiential course may be more easily justified. Experiential education can come in many forms but usually the options include an international course of varying lengths of time, the internship linked to a development agency, and different forms of service learning.

The benefits of experiential education are known. Experiential education personalizes abstract concepts, provides global networks and connections between issues and peoples, increases the relevance of theoretical material, and may provide formative and foundational learning for students personally and vocationally. When taught through experiential education, courses in global development connect the prospects and constraints affecting the Global North and South, challenging personal value systems while making evident the choices faced by those in socioeconomically distressed contexts (Miller and Fernandez 2007). One representative case of the possibilities of change through active experiential learning, and in this case “travel learning,” comparatively analyzes results from six years of development education in three Latin American countries, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. By using various forms of assessment and evaluation, the researchers and instructors found that the travel learning courses more effectively grounded basic learning concepts, changed minds of students over issues of global poverty and the possibilities for economic justice, and in general, provided a higher evaluation of teacher effectiveness than the scores of conventional development history courses (Greenberg 2008). In this case, the courses described combined regular classroom instruction at the students’ home university, additional seminars on site in the various countries, and a modest experience of service in different neighborhoods under the direction of local project leaders, sites that had been pre-arranged between the instructors and local officials. A similar set of results occurred through an interdisciplinary program known to the author (at Goucher College under the direction of Drs. Janet Shope and Eric Singer) that brings students to the same development organizations in South Africa every two years. A type of developmental partnership happens, although sporadic and temporary, where students, college, and on-the-ground agents are engaged in three weeks of service and informal instruction anchored by the indigenous organization’s mission. As conditions evolve, so does the content of the learning experience. Although not always simple to accomplish, the learning and teaching experience can be two-directional as staff members from the South African organizations came to the American campus to share their methods.

Finding an internship opportunity that works on issues of global development or with a global development agency is not usually difficult. The number of NGOs who work on one or more development issues has grown exponentially as bilateral and multilateral aid is decentralized to grassroots and international NGOs. An umbrella organization, such as the Interaction Council in Washington DC, an organization that brings together members of the NGO community who accept money from the US government in order to provide programming, provides contact and project information for more the 160 agencies, most (if not all) of who provide regular internship possibilities. Bilateral and multilateral organizations working in global development offer more internship possibilities, sometimes with small stipends. Some organizations provide extended learning experiences in order to connect the task of service delivery with advocacy and public policy (the Congressional Hunger Center). Others combine an internship opportunity with additional course work (the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars). Organizations who specialize in student travel resources may offer links to internships in the areas or countries that they serve. An organization/website that specializes in service to the NGO community (, accessed May 4, 2009) compiles information about development internships (and job opportunities) worldwide.

Service learning takes different shapes. The most usual and understood form of service learning uses an ongoing relationship between the course material and an area organization or program whose mission is tangent to the design of the course. The work of the organization or project becomes a part of the course content and instructional process, and students provide some active work and reflection as part of their evaluation process. As another representative case, a general class on international relations and global issues incorporates a project involving an immigration and refugee center. The service-learning contract provides the personal relationship to refugee families and a shared responsibility for the migration and transition process. The point of origin for the refugees provides opportunities for historical and documentary investigation as well as inquiry into the work of different agencies throughout the conflict, negotiation, peace building, and migration process. According to the author and researcher, in addition to the more holistic learning of international relationships and structures with global issues, students took greater risks by asking personal questions of their greater roles in international affairs as well as dimensions of global citizenship and accountability (Patterson 2000).

Providing opportunities for service learning has become a type of international development business. Numerous travel-learning corporations offer service activities in developing countries and send thousands of students (and non-students) to developing states to offer work in community development, education, and public health organizations. The service times may be for as short as two weeks (the “J-term” or alternative spring break experience) to months-long encounters. The opportunities may be sincere, opening up real opportunities for student and local organization alike, while horror stories of groups repainting a building over a dozen times to give students the feeling of development also exist. There is significant room for caution when considering service experience programs. A central caution must be for the integrity of the activity and organization, closely followed by what is the student participant’s experience.

An equally specialized form of “learning by service” occurs on campuses that might be related to a religious body or with a sectarian commitment. The availability of the short-term “mission trip” to a developing region has grown alongside the popularity of service learning and companies that package learning experiences as short-term service activities. Again, students are active (both domestically as well as internationally) in a short-term work and service experience. Some mission trips are similar to nonsectarian service travel where students become involved working briefly in local projects. These may be building and construction projects or ones that assist providing education services (such as tutoring). Others may be highly evangelistic. Questions of intent must be asked.

Closing Thoughts

In a typical foundational course on global understanding, one task is for the student to develop a journal on a global issue or region of their choice that investigates some common concepts about agency, process, engaged institutions, and current events. It has never failed that a number of students are attracted to write about issues linked to development – global hunger, sustainability, technology gaps, global poverty, etc. Various forms of international conflict and global climate change are the other two themes that always appear. This speaks well of the importance of teaching global development as the subject continues to count on the imagination of students to ponder global norms, or the constraints and opportunities of the dynamics of change in global society. That these less than fully trained (usually first year student) minds assert questions about development and economic growth, or development and the environment, or development and democratization, or the human face of poverty, through the journal articles that captured their interests can be both astounding and professionally gratifying. The experience relates to the earlier charge by Craig Murphy when he described the importance of global development subjects for the globalizing post–Cold War age that our students inherit. What it also suggests is that the subject of global development continues to be compelling, and matches well with many students’ interests in wanting to see more harmonious and better conditions for their world and its peoples. Providing an opportunity for a student to explore and humanize their relationship with global development’s contradictions and possibilities may seem self-explanatory but remains an important task. Indeed facilitating human connection between the ever-evolving and broad fields of development studies, the differing perspectives on development from the Global North and Global South, and a process of critical awareness and analysis may stimulate the teacher of global development’s most urgent challenge.


Balaam, D.N., and Veseth, M. (2008) Introduction to International Political Economy, 4th edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.Find this resource:

Campbell, P.J., Masters, P.E., and Goosby, A. (2004) Global Studies: Hurdles to Program Development. College Teaching 52 (1) 33–8.Find this resource:

Cowell-Meyers, K. (2006) Teaching Politics using Antigone. PS: Political Science and Politics 39 (3) 347–9.Find this resource:

Dougherty, B.K. (2003) Teaching African Conflicts. Active Learning in Higher Education 4 (3), 271–83.Find this resource:

Goodman, M.K. (1992) Using Middle Eastern Literature and Allusions in Class. VCCA Journal 7 (1), 14–25.Find this resource:

Green, D., and Luehrmann, L. (2003) Comparative Politics of the Third World: Linking Concepts and Cases. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Find this resource:

Greenberg, D.J. (2008) Teaching Global Citizenship, Social Change, and Economic Development in a History Course: A Course Model in Latin American Travel/Service Learning. History Teacher 41 (3), 283–304.Find this resource:

Gregg, R.W. (1998) International Relations on Film. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Find this resource:

Griffiths, R.J. (2008) Annual Editions: Developing World, 18th edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.Find this resource:

Hay, M.J. (2000) African Novels in the Classroom. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Find this resource:

Hey, J.A.K. (2000) Teaching about the Third World with Cases. In J.S. Lantis, L.M. Kuzma, and J. Boehrer (eds.) The New International Studies Classroom: Active Teaching and Active Learning. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, pp. 51–64.Find this resource:

Isbister, J. (2006) Promises Not Kept: The Betrayal of Social Change in the Third World, 7th edn. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press.Find this resource:

Joseph, W.A., Krieger, J., and Kesselman, M. (2007) Introduction to the Politics of the Developing World: Political Challenges and Changing Agendas, 4th edn. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Find this resource:

Lang, A.F., and Lang, J.M. (1998) Between Theory and History: The Remains of the Day in the International Relations Classroom. PS: Political Science and Politics 31 (2), 209–15.Find this resource:

Lantis, J.S., Kuzma, L.M., and Boehrer, J. (2000) The New International Studies Classroom: Active Teaching and Active Learning. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Find this resource:

Miller, A.T., and Fernandez, E. (2007) New Learning and Teaching from Where You’ve Been: The Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates. New Directions for Teaching and Learning 111 (Fall), 55–62.Find this resource:

Mingst, K.A., and Mori, K. (1997) Teaching International Affairs with Cases: Cross National Perspectives. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Find this resource:

Morgan, A. (2006) The Poisonwood Bible: An Antidote for What Ails International Relations? International Political Science Review 27 (4), 379–403.Find this resource:

Murphy, C.N. (2001) Political Consequences of the New Inequality. International Studies Quarterly 45 (3), 347–56.Find this resource:

Narayan, D. (2000) Voices of the Poor: Can Anyone Hear Us? Washington DC: World Bank.Find this resource:

Patterson, A.S. (2000) It’s a Small World: Incorporating Service Learning in International Relations Courses. PS: Political Science and Politics 33 (4) 817–22.Find this resource:

Payne, A. (ed.) (2004) The New Regional Politics of Development. New York: Palgrave.Find this resource:

Payne, R.J., and Nassar, J.R. (2008) Politics and Culture in the Developing World: The Impact of Globalization, 3rd edn. New York: Pearson Longman.Find this resource:

Rapley, J. (2007) Understanding Development: Theory and Practice in the Third World. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Find this resource:

Rodney, W. (1981) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington DC: Howard University Press.Find this resource:

Said, E.W. (1978) Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.Find this resource:

Said, E.W. (1993) Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf.Find this resource:

Salem, G., and Freeman, C. (2002) Teaching the New Inequalities: Using the Human Development Report as Class Text. International Studies Perspectives 3 (1), 42–53.Find this resource:

Savitt, W. (ed.) (1993) Teaching Global Development: A Curriculum Guide. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Find this resource:

Seligson, M.A., and Passe-Smith, J.T. (2008) Development and Underdevelopment: the Political Economy of Global Inequality, 4th edn. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Find this resource:

Sheeran, P. (2007) Literature and International Relations. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.Find this resource:

Sterling-Folker, J. (ed.) (2001) Symposium on Global Inequality and Teaching: Taking Up the Challenge of Craig N. Murphy’s Presidential Address. International Studies Perspectives 2, 340–70.Find this resource:

Thomas-Slayter, B.P. (2003) Southern Exposure. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press.Find this resource:

Turner, C.C. (2005) The Motivating Text: Assigning Hanna Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. PS: Political Science and Politics 28 (1), 67–9.Find this resource:

Ulrich, M.M. (1997) Simulation/Gaming for Learning about Sustainability and the Environment. At, accessed May 18, 2009.

Vengroff, R. (1998) Local Development: The Simularia Integrated Rural Development Case. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press.Find this resource:

Weatherby, J.N., et al. (2007) The Other World: Issues and Politics of the Developing World. New York: Pearson Longman.Find this resource:

Zaniella, T. (2007) The Cinema of Globalization. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Find this resource:

Institutions and Agencies

The text identified a number of operational sources where statistics and development analysis might be found for the classroom. The Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research is a collection of cutting edge research institutes focusing on increasing the world’s good security and can be found through The United Nations system is at the instructor’s disposal. In particular, the UN Development Program, at, and the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations, at, as lead in the current UN program on sustainable development education should be consulted.

Other multilateral, international, and regional sites for useful information and cases include the massive development archives of the World Bank,, or International Monetary Fund,, and regional programs and analysis as might be found through the European Union,, or for southern Africa, at, with the Southern Africa Development Community. More critical analysis and monitoring of World Bank and IMF development initiatives may be found at the Bretton Woods Project website,

National development organizations provide information, but also link to professional contacts and national programs. The US Agency for International Development at or the UK based Department for International Development, at, are two of many.

Information from nongovernmental organizations can be overwhelming. The Interaction Council,, provides links to hundreds of development agencies based in the United States. Bread for the World, at, publishes an annual document on the extent of world hunger while another NGO, the US Committee on Refugees,, does similarly for the world refugees and internally displaced.

There are many “think tanks” that focus on development issues, information, and analysis. One such is the Center for Global Development at Those more critical about growth centered positions on global development include the organization Food First, at, and Asian based Focus on the Global South, at

All websites accessed May 4, 2009.

Film Resources

There are numerous websites that focus on African films. One of the largest African film libraries is located at California Newsreel, Some major research universities provide annotated information and rental availability, including the University of California at Berkeley,, and Stanford University, A commercial site for African films and filmmakers, as well as films related to African diaspora, is African Film found at It too provides annotated information for its listings.

Some portions of the Asian film industry, in particular movies from South Asia, can be found in commercial film rental stores. Information about films from different Asian regions can be found on the site, Asian films, at A commercial site, Tiger Cinema at, offers film rentals from all parts of Asia and its filmmakers.

Several research university libraries offer extensive information about Latin American Films. Two of them include the University of Texas,, and Emory University, As with South Asian films, Latin American films are found in commercial video outlets.

A site to learn about and find films about the Middle East and North Africa is the distributor, Arab Films, found at This is a commercial organization and films are for sale.

There are general sites for finding foreign films that could be useful for teaching international studies classes. The American Friends Service Committee Lending Library has a long history of distributing Global South Films and Documentaries from all global regions. It offers annotated information and the ability to search by issue subject as well as location. The lending library can be found through the resources link at A similar service is provided by Church World Service at The commercial site of Multilingual Books offers available film rentals from all parts of the world, and is found at

Commercial distributors of films and documentaries related to development themes include the Films for Humanities and Sciences at, and the Insight Media Corp. at Both provide a broad range of films and do not specialize in global development.

All websites accessed May 4, 2009.

Travel Study Resources and the Teaching of Global Development

There are many organizations that facilitate travel study abroad, service learning, and internships that might be directed toward development education. Idealist at provides links to development related internships, volunteer experiences, jobs, and conferences globally. The Global Education Center at Augsburg College,, has a lengthy history in developing international experiences and internships, including faculty experiences. Numerous agencies and companies help in developing global service learning activities that might promote global development education goals. Global Service Corps, at, is a representative example of such organizations. More traditional study abroad companies, such as, have broadened their products to also include internships and service learning approaches to global education.

All websites accessed May 4, 2009.