Azim Premji University’s Master of Development Course…A breath of fresh air

Two universities from two IT czars – Azim Premji (APU) and Shiv Nader (SNU). SNU has more courses whereas APU has just two – MA in development and MA in Education.

I was just going through the course design of MA in development course and was just amazed. This is exactly the kind of prescription most econs have suggested for revamping economics education post-crisis. It has this mix of economics, sociology, philosophy, politics, law etc with development. So you truly get interdisciplinary perspective on development unlike just economic development which most courses have. It is even more Indian in the sense that there is focus on castes, adivasis, religion etc.

Rationale
M.A. (Development) students need to critically engage with politics in state and society. This course will help students think about issues of power and politics and negotiate these issues in the practical world. Development processes are embedded in complex institutional and social relations, which should be critically understood through a political lens. This course will equip students with tools of political analysis to transform their perspective and practice of development.

Objectives
The course has three objectives:
B. To introduce students to the concept of politics and a brief history of politics in  India.
C. To help students get a critical perspective on key issues related to political development.
D. To help students critically analyze politics in contemporary India and engage with proposals for political reforms.

Syllabus
In keeping with the objectives the course is organized into two parallel sections: Political Philosophy and Politics in India. These sections integrate a normative and  empirical understanding of politics in general and Indian politics in particular. While the readings speak directly to the Indian political experience, many are also explicitly  concerned with political development (the establishment of equitable and sustainable democratic institutions such as electoral processes, government and civil society  organizations and equitable markets). In other words, the course does not deal with  economic development issues as they might be covered from other disciplinary  perspectives, but explicitly is concerned with the state and societal mechanisms that  complement equitable economic development.

There are mentions of the various readings and books in the course which looks real good. First batch has already started. Admissions for 2013-15 are open.

Even in careers they have nice bit on econ faculty openings:

Economic theory has been at the forefront of attempts to explain the nature of development. This role, while prominent, has received sustained and often sharp criticism from other social sciences. There is a strong movement within the scholarship on development that argues that economic analysis and understanding, while crucial, has to interact with and be informed by those that highlight other equally important perspectives. This debate has, arguably, led to a widening of the intellectual bases of economic thought taking the subject into even closer interaction with psychology, sociology, politics , history and ecology.

The University invites applications from scholars who locate the role of economics in the understanding and practice of development in this broad canvas and are keen to teach and research within an interdisciplinary environment that we aspire to be. Economics of development, environmental change, institutions, education, health, human capital and related areas are of interest.

Awesome. Way to go APU…

I also noted they have a tie-up with Soros’s INET and have winter and summer school.  INET is also built on similar ideas of new economic thinking. APU seems to be inspired from developments around the world (and INET) and has designed its course accordingly.

Looks real good so far. Let’s see how its students fare over the years. The intent and idea is just such a breath of fresh air…

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11 Responses to “Azim Premji University’s Master of Development Course…A breath of fresh air”

  1. driss Says:

    It is worth remembering that”economic development”has different
    meanings to differents people,through the years.Scholars,some of
    whom,became laureates of the Nobel Prize in Economics,had their
    own interpretation,and a single example is enough to highlight the
    differences of opinions,attitudes and beliefs,Professor Theodore
    W Schultz and Professor Arthur Lewis did share such a Nobel
    Prize in Economics,in 1979,despite the fact their”theories”are poles
    apart,this led the author of”The Strategy of Economic Develop-
    ment”,i.e.,Albert O Hirschman,t Oslo,for his o write his famous article criticizing the Nobel Committee of Oslo for this unprecedented verdict.The late Arthur Lewis wrote an article in which he highlighted the”engine of growth”that varied from”com-
    merce”according to the Mercantilists,and to”Eucation”or”Investment
    in Human Capital”according to the University of Chicago,or the latest school of thought.All in all,there is no unanimity as to the
    definition of”growth” and “Development.
    the Nobel Committee of

  2. Vipul Vivek Says:

    Fresh air? Tata Institue of Social Sciences has had an MA course for years.

    https://admissions.tiss.edu/programmes/mumbai-campus/school-of-development-studies

    • Amol Agrawal Says:

      Thanks Vipul Vivek… Well, the idea was simply to point that the development course in APU is nicely sketched out. It is so easy to make another course just based on just economics theories. They have gone the TISS way which is breath of fresh air. Given the huge criticism on economics curriculum and equal ignorance of economics to do anything about it (barring a few cases), these course designs are hugely welcome. It is not about comparison but simple appreciation..

  3. Arun Sivaramakrishnan Says:

    I’m a student of the second batch of ma dev. Tiss again focuses on economics in their dev studies programme .
    as an insider I can proudly say we hv an eminent faculty from the best institutions in the world Columbia, oxford, iim, iit, etc. who contribute so much to the diverse student populace and enhance the learning process..

    • Amol Agrawal Says:

      Arun,
      well the highlight of my post was focus of APU’s program on aspects other than economics. In India’s case specifically, figuring socio and politics play an equally important role. So we need to have a holistic perspective on development rather than just the economic bit. In TISS too they focus on holistic bit though you would know the details better as an insider..

  4. Jiya Says:

    Hi i want to do m.tech
    and i m presuing Mca from IGNOU.

  5. driss Says:

    Reference need be made to international institutions such as the
    World Bank,the UN-Related Agencies such as UNID0,UNESCO,IMF
    OMS,WHO,FAO,UNICEF,among others,in their dignostic and prognostic related to the Millenium scenarios and the promises
    made to break open the vicious circle of poverty,besides the risks
    of climate changes.The focus of attention has been on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that goes back to 1948,
    namely the multidimensional process that describes”economic
    development” and the noted “gaps”in terms of”innovations”,
    “institutions,””incentives”and”infrastruture”,what has come to
    be known as “four is.””The Strategy of Economic Development”
    written by Albert O Hirshman,and the”Conditions of Economic
    Progress”written by Colin Clark,in 1937,as well as the written
    book”Redistribution with Growth”by Hollis Chenery and Monteke
    Ahluwalia,remain worthwhile academic references.The late Raj
    Krishna,a well known scholar from India had his own impact on
    theoretical issues related to planning,as far as the Indian history.
    kusum Nair,an author from India was very vocal in her book”the
    lonely furrow;”The late american agronomist Norman Borlaug
    won the Nobel Peace Prize,in 1970,the same year as the late
    Professor Paul Samuelson,a sthe first american econnomist to
    earn such a Prize for economics.Some critics wondered why the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an agronomist who had no
    record in Human Rights,the Nobel Committee of Oslo was quick
    to furnish its own definitin of”peace”,i.e;,to include”food security
    as well as “the fight for freedom.””Economic Development”,as a
    process is supposed to focus attention on”EPISLE”,i.e.,”Economic
    Political,Institutional,Social,Technological,Legal,and Ecological,”
    so one is faced with the necessary study of numerous aspects
    so as to reach sound conclusions.Finally,Emile Durkheim,a noted
    sociologist from France,once said”To better understand the future,
    you must study the past.”

  6. Vipul Vivek Says:

    By the way, what do you think of the SNU MS Economics course?

  7. drisssadok Says:

    Sir Arthur Lewis,a co-laureate of the Nobel Prize in Economics,in 1979,jointly with the late Professor Theodore W Schultz,from the
    University of Chicago,and author of”Transforming traditional agriculture”published in 1964,wrote a seminal article in which he
    highlighted the various contributions of “schools of thought”all
    the way from the Mercantilists to the University of Chicago,the
    latter stressing the role of education as an “Engine to Growth.”
    The late Hollis Chenery,former World Bank Vice President did
    write a book entitled”Redistribution with Growth”,in the early 1980s,
    along with Monteke Singh Ahluwalia,who is now Chairman of the
    Indian Planning Commission,this should remind us of the notable
    contribution of the late Professor Raj Krishna,and former member
    of the Indian Planning Commission.Finally,one can’t help but pay
    a tribute to the late Professor Gunnar Myrdal,a Swedish economist
    and Nobel Prize Winner in Economics,and his two notable publications,i.e.,”The American Dilemma”and”The Asian Drama”.
    Also,the late Professor Albert O Hirschman,author of “The Strategy
    of Economic Development”as well as “The Journey Toward Progress”and the concrete lessons drawn from Latin America.
    Dudley Seers,a former official of the World Bank did raise the
    perennial question”What is the meaning of Development?”in 1969,
    the late François Perroux,a French economist and Colin Clark,the
    Australian-born economist had their own notable contributions to
    the field of economic development.Most students,at the Master Level,spend a lot of time reading Adam Smith,the author of “The
    Wealth of Nations”published in 1776,while forgetting the unique
    contribution of Richard Cantillon,the Irish-born economist,speci-
    fically in the area of trade.All in all,”To better understand the future,you must study the past”as heralded by Emile Durkheim,
    the eminent French sociologist.”

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