Department of Global Development Studies


Global Development Studies

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Research Themes

Global Development Studies at Queen’s has a wide range of faculty expertise. Four themes stand out as key areas of specialisation within our programme:

The Political Economy of Development

The central question of political economy is how wealth is created and distributed and this concern stands as a cornerstone of development. To this end, our faculty interrogate the forces that shape contemporary production, trade and finance at various scales: from the level of cities through to global trade agreements and world financial crises.

Associated Faculty

  • David McDonald – municipal governance; public versus private service delivery (water, electricity and health care); urbanization; migration
  • Susanne Soederberg – housing insecurity and urban displacement; finance and debt (public and private); corporate power in development
  • Marcus Taylor – labour and livelihoods; agriculture and development; anti-poverty programmes and microfinance
  • *Kyla Tienhara – globalisation; trade agreements; corporations and development (starting July 2018)

Three Recent MA Projects in This Field

  • M’Lisa Colbert – “Democratizing Energy Access in a Marketized World: The Cases of Costa Rica and Nicaragua” (2017).
  • Lisa Page – Deconstructing the Power of Global Trade Law: An Analysis of the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body” (2015)
  • Valerie Wagner – “Investigating ‘Decent Work’ and the ‘Care Chain’: A Case Study of Filipina Maids in Kuwait” (2015)

The Cultural Politics of Development

The foundational ideas of development – including the notions of progress and modernity – have been used and contested by diverse political and social movements in both the West and post-colonial countries. Critically examining these unsettled ideas of what development means and what purposes it is used for is a key element of our curriculum and an active research concern for many of our faculty.

Associated Faculty

  • Richard Day – radical social theory; feminism; post-/anti-colonialism; theories of postdevelopment
  • Karen Dubinsky – global childhoods (adoption/migration history and the politics of childhood); Cuban musical cultures; Canadian/Third world relations; transnational historical perspectives
  • Marc Epprecht – social history in southern Africa; gender, sexuality and development; HIV/AIDS; pedagogies for development
  • Paritosh Kumar – the politics of tradition and modernity; Hindu Right and religious revivalism in India; development ethics

Three Recent MA Projects in This Field

  • Noelle Bauman – "Stories of ‘Born-Again’ Women in Uganda: Epistemic Violence, Visceral Faith, and Subversive Performances of Subjectivity"
  • Lucy Mackrell – “The Vulnerability Paradigm: Problematizing the Development Industry’s Dominant Narrative Surrounding Heterosexual Transmission of HIV/AIS in Botswana” (2016)
  • Michelle Johnston – “A Critical Examination of the Disciplining of Street-Connected Girls in Mombasa, Kenya, within a charitable Children’s Institution” (2015)

Indigenous Studies

Global Development Studies at Queen’s has a longstanding indigenous studies component. Our faculty conduct participatory research on the history and politics of indigenous-settler relations in Canada and more widely, and keenly engage indigenous perspectives on the theme of development.

Associated Faculty

  • Richard Day – ‘indigenism’ and development; food sovereigntists and autonomy
  • Michael Doxtater – conflict resolution and organisational learning; indigenous languages
  • Robert Lovelace – aboriginal studies in Canada and North America
  • Dylan Robinson – indigenous public art; the politics of indigenous languages; Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Three Recent MA Projects in This Field

  • Laura Myers – “Analyzing the Experiences of Indigenous Women's Organizations and Organizers in Canada” (2017)
  • Zabrina Whitman – “Finding Balance: Determining the Relationship Between Economic Development, Traditional Knowledge and Natural Resource Management in the context of the Nova Scotia Mik’maq (2013)
  • Leah James – “Food Sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic: Is it Possible?” (2013)

Environment, Development and Sustainability

In a world characterised by growing resource constraints and new environmental challenges such as climate change, research into sustainability marks an important feature of our programme. Our faculty engage a sustainability questions at a range of scales from contemporary urban environments to global agriculture and food systems.

Associated Faculty

  • Marc Epprecht – environment and health, especially in urban contexts in South Africa
  • Mark Hostetler – political ecology; sustainability research; livelihoods approaches
  • Paritosh Kumar – globalisation and agriculture; plant genetic resources
  • David McDonald – urbanisation and environmental justice; water politics
  • Susanne Soederberg – cities, housing and vulnerabilities; disaster management
  • Marcus Taylor – climate change; agriculture and agrarian change; political ecology
  • *Kyla Tienhara – clean energy; environmental regulation and trade policy (starting July 2018)

Three Recent MA Projects in This Field

  • Daniel Simonson – “The NAPA process: Negotiating accumulation in the context of climate change adaptation policy” (2015).
  • Joyce Yan – “The Political Ecology of Climate Change Adaptation and Environmental Governance in China” (2015)
  • Alexandra Wilson – “Environmental Degradation in the Yamuna Basin: A Holistic Approach to Understanding Water” (2015)