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Development and Underdevelopment

  • All levels
  • 21 and older
  • $315
  • Earn 10% Rewards
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  • Online Classroom
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions

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  • $315
  • 12 hours over 4 sessions
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Class Description


What you'll learn in this economics course:

Development and Underdevelopment: Political Economy and Colonialism

What do we mean when we talk about economic development? Debates over development and underdevelopment blend questions of economic and political theory, economic history, colonialism and post-colonialism, and regional and cross-country comparison. 

In this course, we will explore the concept and practice of modern economic development, comparing mainstream and heterodox theories of development with the actual histories of development as they’ve unfolded in multiple states and regions throughout the globe. What is, and isn’t, development? How is it measured? What do countries do—or, in some cases, are made to do—to achieve some threshold of development? Are rich countries developed—and if so, why do they sometimes de-industrialize? Is underdevelopment a necessary precondition for development? Is the process globally symbiotic? Or does development entail definite winners and losers? Is development an end to itself, and, if not, what are the alternatives to development?

We’ll begin by examining concepts of development through several different economic lenses: Classical/Neoclassical, Marxian, Schumpeterian, and Keynesian. We’ll explore the history of capitalist development, from competitive to monopoly to so-called late capitalism, and the successive industrial revolutions that have propelled capitalist growth around the world. 

Next, we’ll discuss theories of underdevelopment and real-world examples in Southeastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and consider Giovanni Arrighi’s critique of “The Development Illusion.” We’ll also investigate the supposed connection between manufacturing and development, focusing particularly on the phenomenon of deindustrialization in developed countries, including the United States. What are the social, economic, and political consequences of deindustrialization, for both domestic and foreign populations? 

Finally, we’ll take a look at the UNDP 2019 Development Report and debate alternatives to conventional development—including theories of degrowth and Buen Vivir, and debates on solidarity and feminist economy. We will ask, how viable do these alternatives seem? What kinds of societies might they create in the countries we’ll be studying? Readings will be drawn from works by Giovanni Arrighi, Ha-Joon Chang, Albert Hirschman, Celso Furtado, Dani Rodrik, and Mariana Mazzucato, among others.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

Refund Policy

  • Upon request, we will refund less 5% cancellation fee of a course up until 6 business days before its start date.
  • Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to 75% refund or full course credit.
  • After the first class: 50% refund or 75% course credit.
  • No refunds or credits will be given after the second class.

In any event where a customer wants to cancel their enrollment and is eligible for a full refund, a 5% processing fee will be deducted from the refund amount.

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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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