Today 4.3 billion people, 60 per cent of the world’s population lives on less than $5 per day. While we are told that poverty will be eradicated by 2030, we also know that the richest eight people now control the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world combined. What is causing this growing inequality between and within nations?

This course will introduce students to key analytical tools from anthropology, sociology, and geography relevant to development. Using a cross-disciplinary social science approach, the course will cover three intersecting political, economic, and cultural dimensions of development practice.

1)     The first addresses the different ways of defining, measuring and assessing development and the political implications entailed;

2)     the second provides a critical overview of the history and competing political economic theories of development;

3)     the third explores contemporary development interventions and their effects on poverty and other forms of inequality.

This course will address a variety of development problems, including, urbanization and informality, micro-credit, food security in our increasingly globalized world today.


This course is an introduction to the academic study of culture and social structure, as developed through the fields of cultural anthropology and sociology. Students will develop a vocabulary of core concepts and analytical skills for the study of cultures and societies both local and global. Through readings, films, lectures, class discussions, and experiential projects, students will explore the nature of communities, organizations, and institutions; the system of meanings that form and inform them; and the interplay between individuals' lives and the societies in which they live. Along the way, students will be asked to apply course concepts to their own lives in a critical way, and to reflect upon how such issues as belief systems, social stratification, culture change, gender roles, etc. play out in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world.

How do media technologies shape our lives? Do we bend our use of them to our own free will, or do media, in the words of one famous scholar, "determine our condition"? This course takes an "ecological" approach to media by considering equally how media technologies develop within specific cultural contexts and how technologies, once in regular use and "stable," shape cultures and social structures in turn-a "symbiosis" of technological and cultural development. After laying some theoretical groundwork, we survey the historical advent of technologies like the printing press, sound recording, photography, and film, interrogating the impacts of such technologies on everything from social structures to sensory perception. The remainder of the course delves into critical problems and "media ecologies" of the present day, from the engineering of urban landscapes to audiovisual surveillance networks to social media activism to virtual worlds, arriving at a richer understanding of how media operate as environments, and environments as media. Students will respond regularly to readings on forums, write several short ethnographic and critical reflection papers, and produce a mid-length, final research paper.