Syllabi For Development Courses and Speakers

Aspiring Adjunct? Putting together a syllabus? Have a public speaking engagement?  Curious about how others have done it?  The UAA has been collecting syllabi for courses in international affairs and development taught by practitioners. On this page, the UAA website is now offering an on-line library available for those interested in putting together courses of their own. Feel free to contribute what you have done. If you’ve got a syllabus, please send it to Terry Myers at


  1. International Development Theory and Practice, Andrew Natsios, Texas A&M George HW Bush School of Government and Public Service, 2018


 A 14-session course examining definitions of development and theories explaining why some countries develop and others do not and what might be done to speed progress. It looks at the debate over the factors promoting economic growth; what role good governance and democratic institutions, the cultural values of a society, and social services play in development. Finally, the course analyzes how the foreign aid programs of donor governments and international institutions affect the development process, the politics of aid programs and the mechanisms for their implementation, and the role of new actors in development such as non-governmental organizations, corporations, and foundations.The course challenges students to write USAID, UN Agency, or NGO briefing, strategy paper, and decision memos at the end of the course students should be able to describe major development theories and their predictive values; key international development institutions and aid agencies, their history and different practices; alternative approaches to development assistance; lessons learned from past assistance, and future prospects.


  1. Challenges of Weak States, Michael Miklaucic, George Mason, 2009


A 14-session, advanced course in security studies focusing on the major security challenges posed by weak states to US foreign policy and national security.  The course is divided into three segments; 1) the failed state phenomenon; 2) the impact on U.S. national interests; and 3) the policy remedies for state fragility and failure. It is designed to develop: analytic skills necessary to understand the dynamics of state weakness and failure; an understanding of the threats weak states pose to US national interests; knowledge of the range of policy and instrumental options available for dealing with weak and failing states; and the ability to present in a professional memorandum format the relevant background, facts, options and risks of action pertaining to complex crises.


  1. Failing States, Development and National Security, Desaix Myers, Steve Brent and Andy Sisson, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, 2008-9


A 12-session course examining the fundamentals of foreign assistance—what it is, what it can be used for, the theories behind it, how it is organized, the variety of approaches in its use, and its impact, real and potential.   The course looks at the role of assistance in responding to humanitarian catastrophes, both natural and manmade, its contribution to political and economic development, and its support to failed and failing states.  It evaluates the role of foreign assistance in national security and its importance as a strategic tool of foreign policy.

During the course students: review the wide range of challenges, from humanitarian concerns and poverty to economic growth and terrorism, which are being addressed by foreign assistance; analyze tools of foreign assistance and approaches used by governments, multilateral institutions and non-governmental organizations to address challenges of failed states, development and national security; examine theories describing the complexity of factors affecting development and growth; evaluate the effectiveness of existing US government approaches to foreign assistance; and synthesize lessons learned from historical examples and case studies to provide recommendations as to how best the US might organize and use foreign assistance as a tool for national security.


  1. Development Assistance, Policy, Theory and Practice, Frank Young and Janet Ballantyne, Syracuse University Maxwell School, 2013


A 14-session class on the key issues facing developing countries, theories of development, and approaches responding to the challenges of global poverty, increasing food production, improving health, encouraging democratic institutions, and spurring economic growth.  It includes regional case studies In Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and encourages students to develop their own recommendations for reforming the way the US delivers foreign assistance.  The course explores: basic theories of economic development, why certain countries/areas have achieved economic success and others have failed, the factors shaping US development assistance since the Marshall Plan;  the impact of foreign assistance, when, where and why it has worked or failed, and its influence on economic growth, democratic institutions and health; and the future of foreign assistance—approaches to reform the architecture and practice of assistance.


  1. Rethinking US Foreign Aid, Irving Rosenthal, American University, 2014


A 15-session course offering an overview of the issues relating to long-term US foreign development assistance and its role as a tool of US foreign policy. It includes historic prospective on the evolving goals and objectives of US foreign aid and how this evolution has affected policy and practice in its delivery.  It discusses the role of the White House, Congress, and implementing agencies such as USAID, State, and the Department of Defense, coordination, competition, and collaboration between the three “Ds”—Defense, Diplomacy and Development.   It examines changes in policy, structure and practice under the different presidential administrations with particular focus on the Obama administration, and offers students the opportunity to study, synthesize, and create their own recommendations for reform of long-term development aid.


  1. Conflict in Development, Michael Miklaucic, George Mason, 2015


A 14-session course on the intersection of development and conflict in fragile states.  It discusses the challenge conflict poses to growth, the roots and causes of conflict, and approaches to re-establishing stability once conflict has occurred.  It examines the role that democratic institutions can play in mediating conflict, issues of justice versus freedom, corruption and efforts to improve governance.


  1. Fragile States, Development and National Security, Desaix Myers and Larry Garber, National War College, 2015


A 12-session course examining development as a national interest and development assistance as a tool of foreign policy.   It looks at the debate over development and modernization and the use of foreign aid to promote change.  The course discusses approaches to development and the use of aid for humanitarian assistance, economic growth, health and education, and the uphill struggle in conflict and post-conflict stabilization, recovery and state-building. It explores the causes of state fragility and the players — bilateral and international donors, philanthropic institutions and non-government organizations — trying to address the challenges they pose.  It looks at the role that development and the agencies providing development assistance play in formulating and implementing national security policy.  The objective of the course is for students to: gain an understanding of the underlying causes of state weakness, fragility and failure; review the threats and opportunities involving national security growing out of state fragility; examine the theories surrounding development and reviewed the debate over approaches to spur growth and strengthen institutions involved in modernization; and evaluate approaches to development and institutions involved in implementing development assistance.


     8. Economics for Strategists, David Cohen, National War College, 1999

Syllabus        Teaching Notes

A six-session course designed to help national security strategists understand economic forces at work at the national and global levels.  It covers basic concepts: the market, supply and demand, gross domestic product, fiscal and monetary policy, exchange rates and the dynamics of the world economy.  It is designed to enhance appreciation appreciate of today’s economic headlines and tomorrow’s national security consequences.  It emphasizes macroeconomics and provides students with a basic understanding of the economic principles and tools for analysis and development of national security strategy and policy:

  1. How market economies function.
  2. How market economies grow.
  3. The problems (such as unemployment and inflation) encountered by market economies.
  4. The means available (e.g. fiscal and monetary policy) to address the problems of economies.
  5. International trade: the role it performs and its operating mechanisms (e.g. exchange rates, tariffs, quotas).
  6. Dysfunctional economies: underdevelopment and crisis.


     9. Great Famines, War and Humanitarian AssistanceAndrew Natsios, Texas A&M George HW Bush School of Government and Public Service


A 14-session course exploring famines: their various definitions, theories of their causes and consequences, how those affected by them cope with them, the stages through which famines pass, and the means by which they may be predicted, measured, and analyzed. Famines are viewed from three interrelated perspectives: as economic events, in their political context, and finally as public health and nutritional crises. The course examines various humanitarian responses to famine and conflict (since famines in Africa are usually a result of war and drought occurring simultaneously), the strengths and weaknesses of each, and how these response programs are affected by conflicts. It reviews specific case studies using the instruments of analysis developed during the course, particularly the entitlement theory of Amartya Sen. The course prepares students for work with an international NGO doing humanitarian relief or in the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance or Food for Peace in USAID, or a UN humanitarian to write USAID, UN Agency, or NGO briefing, strategy paper, and decision memos.


     10. Development Strategy and Program Design, Tony Barclay and Jennifer Anderson, Georgetown, 2018


A 14-session course focusing on the nuts and bolts of international development strategy and program design. It includes the core skills required of development practitioners in technical design – whether they work for multilateral organizations, government agencies, private sector firms, NGOs, or social ventures, and wherever they work. It is designed to build knowledge and skills that match the complex, interdisciplinary reality of development practice.  Successful development practice also depends on the capacity of program and project managers to think strategically, integrate different disciplines, and interact effectively with numerous stakeholders, both inside and outside their own organizations.  This capacity is likely to become more important, and more highly valued, as the global development ecosystem continues to evolve.  The course, which has been developed in collaboration with colleagues at SFS, Columbia University SIPA, DAI, the World Bank, USAID and other organizations, blends training in core skills and practices with exposure to the functions and characteristics of key actors in the ecosystem.


    11. After the WarsPrinceton’s Woodrow Wilson School, Ambassador Rick Barton, Fall 2018


A 12-week research seminar dealing with conflict and post-conflict stabilization in fragile states and assistance in response to crises arising from man-made and natural disasters.  The course reviews cases of US and international interventions; it looks at institutional and civil society architecture for crisis-response; and it examines tools—such as meta data and social media– and alternative assistance approaches.  Students prepare papers distilling lessons learned and proposing ways to meld policy and practice in response to future crises.


12.  USAID 101

USAID website offering USAID history and modules on science, technology and innovation; energy and development; partnerships and development (to come); and ending extreme poverty (to come). It includes a link to a book club, reading list, and schedule of lectures around the country (which appears not to have been updated since late 2012).


13. Introducing Global Development Susan Reichle, Carnegie Mellon, 2018


This course aims to educate students in analyzing and engaging in the rapidly changing world of global development.  It is taught from the point of view of a policy entrepreneur faced with developing policy on international development in an environment of competing priorities and paradigms, complex problems, diverse constituents, and multiple international stakeholders.  The perspective of a variety of development actors will be highlighted throughout the course, including the US Government, the developing country; non-governmental organization; the private sector; and multilateral institutions.  The course presumes no previous experience in global development but will enable graduates to enter the field, and/or participate in policy making in the global setting building on their analytical PPM education.  At the end of the course, all students are expected to use their knowledge to become fully engaged global citizens.


14.  Introduction to the Global Economy, Peter F. Kranstover, Marquette University, College of Business Administration, 2017


This course provides an introduction to the global economy for non-economics majors.  It introduces basic concepts of economics and explores the meaning and impact of globalization, including topics on trade, economic development, foreign assistance, conflict, migration and inequality.  It begins with a basic discussion of theory—supply and demand, comparative advantage, opportunity cost—and moves on to theories of trade and investment and the “Washington Consensus.”  It explores issues relating to development, foreign assistance, migration, natural resources, governance, and conflict and the role of international institutions.


15.  Global Economic Issues and Institutions, Joe Ryan and Anh Tran,, Indiana University, Bloomington, 2018


This 15-week MPA course is designed to give students a practical knowledge of global economic issues and institutions created to address them.  It includes discussion of climate change, migration, sovereign debt, international finance, investment and trade, natural resources.


16.  Development Economics, Joe Ryan, Indiana University, 2015


A 15-session MPA course designed to prepare students for a career in development, business or diplomacy in low and middle-income countries.  It provides a discussion of the social and political context in low and middle-income countries; theories of social change and strategies for pursuing it;  issues affecting development; policies, programs and institutions involved in international development; and the debate over approaches to economic growth and political development.


17. International Development, William (Bill) Anderson, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2016


This is a 19-session course designed to introduce students to the main theories, approaches, and practices in international development planning as implemented by leading actors today. The interdisciplinary course examines the historical and contemporary practice of international development planning, especially at the strategic versus the project level. Students consider issues and challenges facing low-income states, societies, and communities and examine a range of different, and sometimes competing, approaches to development. It aims to enable students to develop and practice skills in planning through the preparation of a strategic plan for a developing country in a major sector or sub sector. During the class, students work on, discuss with each other, present, and critique elements of their strategic plans which include components prepared in a series of written assignments, revised, and then knitted together in a comprehensive plan. To complement the theoretical discussions, experienced international development practitioners and academics participate as guest lecturers.


18. Civil Society and International Development, Larry Garber, George Washington University, Fall 2019


New! A 12-week course examining the role of civil society organizations (CSOs)—non-government organizations, associations, unions, business organizations, religious and humanitarian organizations, political and advocacy groups, and media outlets—in national and international development.  Since the end of the Cold War, academics, international development practitioners, and national policy makers have expended considerable energy and resources studying and promoting the idea and practice of CSOs in building and maintaining liberal institutions and democratic process.  This course will look at the history of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) , their evolution and growing participation in promoting international development, the political, bureaucratic, and financial challenges they face, their successes and failures in achieving their ends, and their utility in achieving the policy objectives of the donor community.

The course combines academic review of theory and history of the role of civil society in governance and with operational approaches to develop skills and understanding on their practical use to achieve specific policy objectives and development goals.  At the end of the course the student will:

  • Know the history, strengths, and weaknesses of civil society organizations in development, the tools they offer and their limitations;
  • Understand the evolving roles that CSOs are taking on or being asked to play in developmental settings;
  • Know how the legal infrastructure—international and national—affects the role and possibilities for CSOs in development;

Be able to prepare a proposal for a program involving CSO participation.


19. Introduction to International Development, Jonathan Addleton, Mercer University, Spring 2019


New!  This 16-week, 32-session course is designed to introduce students to both the theory and practice of international development, supplemented by “real world” examples as well as class discussion and student presentations.

By the end of the course, students should (1) know major theories and approaches used to understand international development; (2) know major institutions focused on international development concerns; (3) understand major issues which international development addresses; and (4) become familiar with major “tools” and “approaches” used by those working in the development field.

Students should complete the course with an appreciation for both the complexity and the cross-cutting nature of international development, involving as it does multiple theories, multiple approaches and multiple academic disciplines. Students will also emerge with a new appreciation for the challenges shaping today’s world, especially those involving global issues such as poverty, inequality, economic growth, sustainability and a broad range of related concerns.

This course will assist students in developing the knowledge and analytical skills needed to understand the theory and practice of international development, particularly:

  • Approaches to understanding international development including theoretical and historical concerns associated with it;
  • Actors and institutions involved in international development including national states, bilateral and multilateral development agencies, civil society and private enterprise;
  • Issues that dominate discussions of international development include debt, free trade, rural and urban development, health, conflict, free trade and environmental concerns;
  • “Tools” related to the “practice” of international development including issues surrounding the measurement of poverty, inequality, project planning, humanitarian assistance and the ethics of development.


20. Tools to End Conflict and Rebuild, Mark Ward, Henry M Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, Winter 2019


New! A ten-week course examining the tools and approaches–multilateral, formal, and informal–available to the international community to end armed conflicts. Seeking to understand which work better, and why, the course will focus on ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria (conflicts in which the instructor has direct experience), El Salvador, Bosnia and post-Vietnam conflicts identified by the students for their assignments. The final four weeks of the course will review the institutional tools most often used to rebuild conflict-torn countries, their relative strengths and weaknesses, and their effectiveness, both short and long-term.

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain roles and responsibilities of the main national security actors with the US interagency and the international community with respect to conflict resolution and rebuilding;
  • Deliver actionable recommendations in a compelling and persuasive manner orally and in writing which identify tools for conflict resolution and for rebuilding nations emerging from conflict, describe actors and factor that facilitate or reduce the chances for conflict resolution and rebuilding, and outline approaches to rebuilding nations and tools that offer the greatest likelihood of sustained success.


21. Select Issues in Today’s Global Economy, Kiert Toh, Radford University, Spring 2017


New! This 15-week course is intended to provide a deeper and more critical understanding of the complex forces behind globalization and the world economy, in particular the links between globalization, international competitiveness, economic growth and development in both advanced developed countries and emerging market and developing economies. The course examines: (a) the relationships and empirical evidence between globalization, global competitiveness, economic growth and development; (b) the growing importance of emerging developing and transitional economies in shaping the world economy; (c) the economics of international competitive strategy for business; and (d) the role of public policy and institutions in facilitating a competitive environment and growth.

During the past three decades the world economy has witnessed an acceleration of globalization and two major financial crises (1997-1999 and 2008-2009) and a severe worldwide recession (Great Recession, 2008-2009). Technological change and the process of globalization–especially in production, labor, and financial markets–have made the world economy more interconnected and interdependent. They also have had distributional consequences resulting in winners and losers. Policies and international institutions have also facilitated the increased integration of the global economy.

The course will critically analyze the process of economic integration or globalization, its socio-economic and political consequences, and explore and assess alternative approaches to make globalization work better with special focus on the U.S. economy.


22. Economics of Development in Africa, Kiert Toh, College of Business and Economics, Radford University


New! This 15-week seminar course with an emphasis on public policy is an introduction to the economics of development with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the World Bank, half of the world’s six billion people live on the equivalent of less than two U.S. dollars a day, and about one-quarter less than $1.25 a day. Meanwhile, people in the twenty richest countries earn on average nearly 40 times more than people in the poorest twenty countries. The contrast highlights the challenges to the international community – in short, the “development” challenge. Development, in the international parlance, is about providing better standards of living, better lives for people in poor countries. It is not only about economic growth, though that is almost a pre-requisite, but also about poverty reduction and human development – better health, nutrition, education, and clean environment. Large numbers of the world’s poor live in Africa south of Sahara or sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

  • After end of the course, students should have an overview of the theory and practice of the economic development.
  • An appreciation and knowledge of sub-Saharan Africa and the development challenges and opportunities it faces in the global economy.
  • Familiarity with successes and failures in development work.
  • Ability to analyze and assess critically the roles of the United States and other developed countries in responding to key development issues in Africa

23. The US and Global Economic Issues in the 21st Century, Kiert Toh, Radford University.


This 15-week seminar course takes a practitioner’s approach with an emphasis on public policy aimed enabling students to appreciate and build a better and deeper understanding of today’s important global economic issues and to think critically about the role of the United States in responding to these global challenges.

Today’s world economy is interconnected and interdependent. Even the most powerful nations cannot resolve on their own important global economic challenges. And the world is looking to the United States for leadership. America’s capacity and will to provide the leadership is less clear given its financial turmoil and a stagnant economy in the context of a global shift in economic power toward what many called a multipolar world,. Why should America be engaged and lead? What are some of most pressing global economic issues we face?

The course is divided into three sections: an overview of the development of the global economy since 1950, with emphasis on certain regions and countries; analysis of critical global economic issues, and assessment of global risks and priorities; and examination of the challenges and opportunities for the United States in shaping a global development agenda, with special emphasis on low-income developing countries.


24.  Advanced Seminar in Development and Conflict Resolution, Neil Levine, Fletcher School, Tufts University, Fall 2019


New! This 13-class seminar is intended provide students with contemporary tools and understanding at the intersection of development and conflict resolution practice. This seminar is in-depth and cutting-edge, discussing in detail what informs development and conflict resolution practitioners as they do their work today. The course will draw deeply from three specific perspectives: academic insights, donor policy views, the views of development practitioners and their critics. Students will explore how these varying but related perspectives inform approaches to addressing the problems of conflict at the international, national, sub-national and local levels. Emphasis will be placed on critical thinking skills, the ability to defend and critique an argument, orally and in writing. The course deals with methodologies (e.g. conflict analysis, program design), policy analysis (e.g. political economy, systems thinking, complexity) and issue areas identified by the class (e.g. resource conflicts, reconciliation; security sector reform; women, peace and security, education and conflict, atrocity prevention, demobilization, disarmament and reintegration).


25. Introduction to International Relations, Jonathan Addleton, Mercer University, Spring 2018


This 16-week, 32-session course is designed to introduce students to both the theory and practice of international affairs, supplemented by “real world” examples as well as class discussion and student presentations.  Upon completion of the course, students should (1) know the major theoretical frameworks used by scholars to analyze international affairs; and (2) understand major structures, forces and issues shaping the world, both past and present.

In examining some of the various global questions facing the planet, the emphasis will be on living with ambiguity and understanding complexity.  Students should not expect to complete the course having learned a neat package of answers to international riddles; rather, they should emerge with a new appreciation for the challenges shaping today’s world and a better understanding of how these challenges will shape their own future.  Put another way, students will not be “force-fed” into formulistic approaches focused on what to think; rather they will be encouraged to apply knowledge gained in this course to help inform how they think, furthering their journey toward becoming critical and independent thinkers on matters related to world politics and international relations.

Finally, students should complete the course with an appreciation for the cross-cutting nature of international relations, including a better understanding of the extent to which other social and behavioral sciences – in addition to political science – may be useful in gaining a deeper and better understanding of a wide range of global issues and concerns. They should develop a basic understanding of:

  • The evolution of the international system and the origins of the nation-state;
  • The variety of theoretical approaches used to explain the conduct of states as well as international organizations;
  • The international political economy, including monetary and trade relations, migration, economic development and environmental issues;
  • Contemporary security issues, including theories on the cause of war, nuclear deterrence, arms control, terrorism, human rights and peacekeeping;
  • Current affairs and possible emerging issues confronting the international system.

26.  Food Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Conflict Resolution: An Operational Perspective, Elisabeth Kvitashvili, Georgetown University, Department of Government, 2015


New A 16-session course on the nature of food security and insecurity and how they contribute to conflict and affect possibilities for its mitigation or resolution.  It explores food as a driver of instability and insecurity and combines elements of theory with an operational perspective on humanitarian assistance, food security analysis, and programming to affect potential conflict. It examines the potential for actors involved in conflict to manipulate assistance—both humanitarian and development–as a political tool and analyzes innovative approaches and tools that the international community may use to deal with this risk and address issues related to instability and insecurity.  Related Powerpoint presentations are available on Land and Conflict and Tools for Early Warning and Their Role in Conflict Mitigation.