MSFS-598 International Development & Global Finance Institutions
Spring for 2017-2018
Understanding how to appreciate and navigate the institutional system (writ large) supporting international development is critical to operating in international relations from virtually any vantage point, whether in international organizations, governments, nonprofits and foundations, and business. This course explores the leading transnational organizations involved, with a focus on the institutions of global development involved in development finance. Contemporary institutional architecture is dynamic, the result of changing roles of long established institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and UNDP, new actors taking on new functions, notably China and Gulf states and the BRICS bank, and growing roles for various private actors, including large foundations and venture investors. Sharp changes in the proportions and nature of financial flows affect development work and approaches and the roles and approaches of different institutions. The changing environment of multiplying organizations varies substantially by region, with very different effects at country level. The shifting architecture opens new debates about global financial architecture and governance. Debates are practical and pragmatic; they concern, for example, fragmentation of development assistance and rapid response to crises (the Ebola epidemic, for example) as well as the relation of development finance to instability and social cohesion. They are also ethical, touching on asymmetrical power and inclusion “at the table”, varying approaches to issues of rights, and standards (safeguards).
The first part of the course focuses on the leading multilateral institutions, notably the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, major UN specialized agencies for development, and the regional development banks. It also explores institutional arrangements affecting international trade, focused on the GATT and WTO. Newer development actors are explored, including governments (China, Gulf States, Brazil) and private foundations and business. This section of the course looks at the historical trajectory starting from the Bretton Woods creation of the IFIs after World War II, their development, including the impact of the Cold War Years, their roles during successive global financial crises, and the contemporary situation. The second part of the course will focus on current practice, centered on several country situations and specific sectors or crises. Students will focus, individually or in small groups, on specific country situations and strategic and operational instruments. The final part of the course will explore issues and trends for the future. It will address continuing questions about global governance applied to these institutions, issues of financial capability, accountability, and assessment of impact. Students will become familiar with both academic literature and practical documents. They will consider a range of critiques of institutions and approach. Finally the course will consider the practical approach to several leading development issues, such as inequality, corruption and governance, extractive industries, safeguard policies, and gender issues, considering the roles that the transnational institutions do, could, and should play.
The course will hone oral presentation and writing skills that are essential in professional settings. It will build familiarity with fundamental topics and concepts in global governance (treated in a take-home final exam), but allows focus in areas of student interest, especially through short papers.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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