Development Studies in Global Perspective

DEVS 101/3.0

World globe on book


This course offers a comprehensive introduction to the field of global development studies to help prepare students for careers and/or further studies in international development, public service, global engagement, social enterprise, human rights and other related fields.

  • Thematically, the course introduces pressing global issues including economic growth, poverty and inequality; sustainability challenges and climate change; global cooperation and fragmentation; and cultural difference across an integrating world. We explore how these questions cannot be considered in isolation but, rather, require innovative and holistic thinking to address. Using case studies from a wide variety of contexts, the course empowers students to draw upon new conceptual tools to undertake their own analyses of these pivotal issues.
  • Conceptually, the course shows how interdisciplinary perspectives within global development studies ask questions that are simultaneously empirical (what is going on?), analytical (why is it going on?) and normative (what should be going on?). To do so, we introduce three distinct perspectives that represent major branches of thinking within global development studies. These are then employed throughout the course to help provide contrasting insights into core themes.
  • Professionally, the course seeks to build a range of important transferable skills including writing for different audiences, recognizing diverse knowledges, and applying the foundational elements of cross-cultural communication. These skills are essential components for global engagement in both professional and personal settings.

Unit 1: What is Global Development Studies?

Unit 2: A Brief History of Global Development

Unit 3: Modernist Perspectives on Global Change

Unit 4: Critical Perspectives on Global Change

Unit 5: Case Study – Microfinance in Contemporary Development

Unit 6: Strategies of Economic Growth

Unit 7: Global Production Networks and Corporate Social Responsibility

Unit 8: Urban Informality in the Global South

Unit 9: Food, Agriculture and Rural Development

Unit 10: Livelihoods, Resilience and Disasters

Unit 11: Sustainability in Development

Unit 12: Knowledge and Communication

Learning Outcomes

  • Students build their knowledge of global issues, demonstrating the ability to articulate key themes in historical and contemporary development, in Canada and around the world
  • Students expand their worldviews by considering diverse forms of knowledge and analytical perspectives that can help us understand contemporary global change
  • Students engage in critical thinking by using interdisciplinary perspectives to explain complex development issues across a wide range of case studies
  • Students develop strong written and oral communication skills, with a focus on writing for different audiences and effective discussion and presentation strategies.
  • Students reflect on the opportunities and challenges involved in producing and disseminating knowledge about the world, with a focus on the opportunities and challenges to cross-cultural communication


Winter 2025
Course Dates
Delivery Mode


20% - Written Assignment 1 (Week 4)
20% - Workshop (week 7)
20% - Written Assignment 2 (Week 10)
30% - Policy Brief (Exam Period)
10% - Policy Pitch (Exam Period)

*Evaluation subject to change*

Textbook and Materials

All reading materials are provided online within the course resources as part of a comprehensive online learning platform.

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 hours a week (120 hours total) on the course.