What future for international development? A new masters programme in QMUL’s School of Geography challenges students to explore an alternative agenda.
In the wake of the 'global' economic crisis and its georgraphically varied outcomes, QMUL’s School of Geography has launched a new masters programme to offer students the chance to consider alternative futures for international development in theory and practice.
Combining cutting-edge thinking on development, economic geography, political economy, labour studies and social change, this innovative new programme interrogates the complex geographies of connection (and disconnection) between the development trajectories of countries of the Global North and Global South.
Programme convenor, Dr Kavita Datta, said students would be encouraged to question common interpretations of modernity and globalisation as emerging from the West and spreading to the rest. “We’ll challenge the position of Western historical experiences and categories as the universal templates against which the rest of the world is measured and found lacking,” she said. “Our students will reconsider the diversity of populations, economies, urban centres, and governance practices in the Global South on their own terms - and in so doing, step outside mainstream development theory and the international policies they inform.”
Ranked fifth in the UK for the quality of our research outputs (REF 2014), the School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London is renowned for a level of research expertise which enables it to offer unique and pioneering programmes. Its world-leading Economy, Development and Social Justice research group – including academics with specialisms in development studies, economic and political geography, gender and migration studies – leads the teaching of Global Development Futures. Dr Al James, an expert on labour geographies and gendered work-life, said their approach challenges the distinctive geography of economic geography, and the presumption that ‘the economy’ can and should be theorised solely from the perspective of the formal economic spaces of western economies.
“The degree will train and enrol a new generation of scholars in a new intellectual trading zone between economic and development scholars,” he said. “Students will be encouraged to challenge common representations of Southern communities as places in need of external (northern) intervention, and as passive end-of-the line links in global production chains. Much more than simply getting connected up to a pre-existing global economy, students will examine the ways in which Southern economies are actively involved in producing that system, and that there is much more to life in the global South than development alone.”
An optional module, Development Futures: Mumbai Unbound, will offer students the chance to develop a group research project in India’s financial capital, to explore geographies of uneven development and change. Support throughout the postgraduate programme will also prepare students to undertake their individual dissertation research in a variety of international fieldwork locations, drawing on the research networks in which staff on this course are engaged. “International students will also be drawn to study this programme in London and may well choose to take the UK’s capital city as the focus of their development study,” Dr Datta added.
A MRes version of the programme is also in due to start in 2015 which will offer an increased methods training component ideal for those wishing to pursue a PhD.