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
  2. Syllabus          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.

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