SDC-33806 Policy, Projects and Programs for Development


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work2
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. PA de Vries
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. PA de Vries
dr. ir. MM van den Berg
Examiner(s)dr. ir. PA de Vries

Language of instruction:



The course provides a broad overview of development thinking and administration since the Second World War. It consists of two parts. In the first part the history of development aid is discussed and the principal approaches to program/project planning are reviewed. Development aid and planning have come to encompass a series of preoccupations that manifest themselves in separate areas of expertise. The following topics are discussed: the learning approach to development planning, the environment and sustainable development; organizational reform and decentralization; the role of participation in development; gender and development; the importance of evaluation in development. The contemporary debates on the success and failure of development aid are reviewed from economic and anthropological/sociological perspectives. In the literature radically different political positions are adopted concerning development aid. The debate among economists is about the possibilities to combine market mechanisms with development interventions, while the debate among sociologists is about the modernist (or western) provenance of the very idea of development and its effects on Third World people. On the negative side, neo-liberal economists decry development planning as incompatible with the market (and thus as a hindrance to economic development), while so-called post-developmentalist sociologists see development projects and programs as intent on shaping the world to its own image. Pro-aid economists are positive about the possibility to promote development through appropriate projects and programs, while pro-aid sociologists insist that development can only become meaningful to local people if knowledge about their livelihoods is included. This first part of the course ends with a discussion forum in which students explain and defend these differing positions. The second part of the course has a more practical and thematic character. It starts with an appraisal exercise in which students evaluate a project and propose modifications to the original design. Special attention will be paid to informal forms of natural resource management and their role in project implementation. The proposed modifications will be discussed in a plenary debate in which the best option will be chosen. Thereafter an important alternative paradigm to modernist development planning will be discussed: living well (or vivir bien in Spanish) as a way to combine the interests of nature, indigenous knowledge and development. The course ends with a couple of discussion lectures on the future role of development cooperation in todays rapidly changing international landscape. Special attention will be paid to the privatisation of development cooperation, as in the case of Corporate Social Responsibility, and the new uses of participation as a form of risk management.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- assess, from a historical perspective, the inter-relationships between development thinking, development aid and development policies, programs and projects;
- appraise the various debates concerning the impacts and effectivity of development aid and planning, as well as assessing the arguments in favour of or against development as a modernist project;
- compose a strategy for presenting and defending a given perspective on development aid and planning in public;
- develop and apply basic analytical skills to critically read planning documents, and to formulate alternative designs; - design a development project proposal and defend it in public;
- apply the acquired knowledge and skills to a specific case in the domain of natural resource management (fisheries and coastal management);
- engage in current debates about the future of development cooperation.


Lectures, workshops.


- written exam with open questions (70%);
- 3 small group assignments (30%).
To pass the course the written exam requires a minimum mark of 5.50.
A bonus arrangement for the written exam applies.


Book and reader. The reader will be available on MyPortal.

Restricted Optional for: MIDInternational Development StudiesMScB: Economics of Development4WD
MIDInternational Development StudiesMScC: Communication, Technology and Policy4WD
MIDInternational Development StudiesMScA: Sociology of Development4WD