Course Syllabus


 Fall 2017     Classroom: FN 2.204     Wednesday 7-9:45 pm

class # 83584

Updated 1 Aug 2017.  The syllabus will be updated as we proceed.

Professor Contact Information

Murray J. Leaf, 

Office GR 3.128, 

Tel: 972-883-2732      email: [email protected]

Offices Hours: By appointment. If the classroom is not occupied before we meet, I will try to come about a half hour early.

Course Pre-requisites, Co-requisites, and/or Other Restrictions: None, but you should have largely completed the POEC/PPPE core.


Course Description

This course is intended to convey a broad sense of the issues and theories that have been considered important in thinking about development for the last century, and that are likely to continue to be so.  The emphasis in the literature is on the "third world," but the basic problems are really universal.  The course is also intended to help you choose what further courses to take and what kind of problem you might choose for a dissertation in this general topic area.  Accordingly, the syllabus will be flexible.  We can adjust it to respond to your interests as they develop in the discussions.

There is no one theory of development.  There are several theories of economic development in economics, but development involves much more than the kinds of phenomena that economics deals with.  Ideas and methods from anthropology, sociology, and political science are at least as important on the social science side.  Moreover, as a matter of cold fact the most important development projects have been, and still are, framed mainly with ideas from engineering and the physical sciences.  In many important areas of activity, it has been a struggle to get any sort of social science expertise involved at all.  To the extent that this struggle has been successful, the key idea now is that projects should be “interdisciplinary.”

The readings are of four main types.  Some represent broad social/development approaches that have been important in recent history: fascism, communism, and market economics.  Some represent economic theories, mainly in development economics.  Most represent practical development projects.  And some represent broad issues in development theory, like the importance of welfare and how to measure it. 

 Theories of development necessarily include some idea of  what government should be in order to promote it.   These are of two broad types: dirigiste and democratic.  Fascism and Communism  are dirigiste, meaning directive or authoritarian.  Both assume that efficiency lies in state-level decision making for state purposes.  Both are also logically and historically associated with an ideological rather than an experimental conception of science.  This has not worked well, although it still has its proponents.

 The view of government in Marshall Plan and the Cernea readings is democratic.  So  their focus is on responding to needs, assuring effective markets, and establishing constructive incentives.  They also involve a more experiential or experimental conception of science.

The Marshall plan is generally recognized as the largest and most successful development program in history and has represented the major practical alternative to Soviet-styled central planning over the last  60 years.  In addition, however, it represents a very different idea of what theory is than either of the development economics perspectives.  Essentially, it is pragmatic rather than ideological and grows out of law, history, and politics as observed process more than economics as a theoretical structure.

The readings from Cernea’s volume are all by social scientists, mostly anthropologists, who have worked in development projects over the last twenty-odd years.  They reflect those projects.  They also reflect the same kind of experience-based view of theory as the Marshall plan, but the projects they have worked on have for the most part been designed by physical scientists and engineers, not social scientists.

The grouping topics is mainly issue-oriented but somewhat chronological.  For an overview, we begin with the contrast between an early argument for central planning and recent arguments for neo-liberalism.  Neo-liberalism is a new word for an old idea: Laissez-faire. Then we turn to the Marshall Plan and go through it very carefully to see what was done and what kind of theory was involved. Then we come to development economics in the post-Marshall Plan period and discuss several overlapping topics including industrialization, unemployment, savings and investment, and the balance between rural and urban priorities.  Then we take up the very large problem of food production, which neither the dirigiste theories nor neo-liberals had much to say about, and the green revolution.  Finally, we discuss the orientation styled as "putting people first" in the Cernea readings. This is the state of the art in actual development work.

The main contemporary hold-out for a kind of dirigiste planning is China, represented by the article by Cao.

Recordings.  I will try to make recordings of the class discussions.  I will post them in a Dropbox folder.  I will send you all a link to the folder once we get started.   I will probably post them with no extension.  If they have an extension, your computer would probably try to play them rather than download them. The format is mp3 or wma (Windows Media Audio), which should also be useable on Macs.  They will probably play as they are with Windows Media Player or Winamp, but if you have trouble you can replace the file extension.  Use mp3 or wma (doesn't seem to matter which). They are pretty large files, about 10 megabytes.  You should be able to find software to allow you to compress them if you need to, with loss of quality. Audacity is available on the web free of charge.

Class Format.  The course will use a seminar format, with two to four student presentations a day. The numbered items in the schedule are the topics.  A presentation is an analysis of one or more readings, as though you needed to use the idea in it to solve a real problem.  Each presentation will either be directly on the assigned reading or on a topic that the reading discusses but does not explain as well as it should. The student will present his/or her criticism formally and then lead the class discussion.

Your presentation ought to be accompanied by a one or two-page handout. It should not be a simple outline or resume of the chapter or article, but a guide to your own argument. Make copies for everyone.  We can put them in the dropbox for classmates to download.  The presentation should include: 1. The main theoretical idea or ideas that underlie the reading. (This can be something very simple—and usually more than a little doubtful). 2. The main arguments for it.  3. A critical assessment of those arguments.  Remember that most development theories don’t work.  Many have been disastrous.

Attendance and Participation: I do not grade attendance and participation; this is a university.  But both are important.  Both are essential for serious learning, and irregular attendance and lack of participation actually is disruptive for the whole class, not just the person who misses.

Grading:   The grade will be based on a midterm final and  a research paper.   we may remove the final if the class is small enough so that each of you can do four or more presentations.   If we have the midterm, final, and research paper the scoring will be 25%, 25%, and 50%.   If we have the midterm and the paper only, the weights will be 40% and 60%.   I don't want to grade the presentations, but I will evaluate them qualitatively (good, very good, and so on) and will take note of them if the grades on the exams and papers are bor Iderline. 

Paper.  The paper should be at least 15 double spaced pages in length.  Reflecting the discussions in the course, it should critically review a major theoretical idea relevant to development or major issue in development.  This is a good way to examine a possible dissertation topic.  The discussion in the paper must reflect class discussions and the bibliography must be presented fully in a standard form.  All paraphrased ideas must be properly attributed to their authors.  All quoted materials must be indicated in quotes and full and complete page references must be provided.  Failure to give proper credit will result in a failing grade on the paper and, if done with apparent intent to defraud, will be treated as plagiarism. If you are not sure of the proper procedures in citation, check with me or a standard source such as K. Tarrabian's Manual of Style for Theses, Dissertations and Research Papers. If you don't own a copy, get one.  If there is something you are not sure about and can’t find a reference for, please ask me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking me.  You are not expected to know everything that might be regarded as proper professional practice when you start out.  But you are expected to try to learn it. 

Here is a list of good papers that students have submitted in the past: Failure of State in Eastern Europe; Protectionism and Interest Groups in the Mexican Steel Industry: a Barrier for Development; Poverty, Aid, Welfare; The Effectiveness of EU Structural Funds; An Incremental Strategy for Legal Development (this was written by a student who had a law degree); Implementation of Local Economic Development Programs in Developing Countries: The Case of Bulgaria; The Decline in the Sense of Duty in the Cameroonian Government Regarding Public Responsibility: the Case of Public Infrastructural Maintenance; The Increasing Importance of Human Capital as a Policy Variable; Bridging Disarmament and Development: Strategies Relating to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty; and The State and Development in Africa. It is also usually a good idea to check out what your faculty has written; they usually think it is legitimate. 

Discuss your sources.  This very important and students usually don't pay enough attention to it.  When you quote somebody or paraphrase them, describe them well enough to say why you do so. If you believe them, why?  If not, why? For example, what is the person’s discipline?  Do they represent an ideological position?  Are they a scholar or a spokesman for a government?  Is the paper or article in a scholarly journal or a government document?  What data or experience is the statement based on?  Is it likely to be timely or out of date?   Is the person saying or a crackpot?  And so on. As you read, notice the way the authors you are reading do this.  Students often worry that they wont have enough to say on a topic to fill the page assignment.  Sometimes the topic is indeed too light or too vague, but if you check with me and I say it will probably work the main reason for seeming to run out things to say will most likely be that you don’t fully explain the works and data that you cite.

I will be happy to look over drafts before the paper is due and comment.  I will not say what your grade would be.

For accreditation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires all courses at UTD to state specific “Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes.” For this course, the objectives are:

Objective 1. To provide an overview of key issues in current development theory.

Objective 2.  To provide an overview of key problems in current development practice.

Objective 3.  To examine the relationships between the theoretical issues and the practical issues with a view toward identifying areas for possible research.

This should not be understood as precluding the more general objectives of all graduate courses, namely to read and master the material, learn the kind of critical thinking that it requires, and to understand how one can conduct research on these topics.


Required Textbooks and Materials

Dulles, Allen (1994) The Marshall Plan.  Berg Publishers.  28.00 new. From 4.95 used.

Cernea, M. M. 1984. Putting People First. Oxford Reprint Paperback. $30 new. From $7.00 used. From Amazon.

For your paper, here is a bibliography of important works of many kinds relevant to what we are covering.  It includes most of what seem to me to be the best works on the New Deal, the Marshall Plan, and the relation between them.  The sleeper in the group that you may not notice is the biography of General Lucius Clay.  Clay was an Army engineer, an important administrator in the New Deal and the wartime mobilization, and finally military governor of Germany during the U S occupation, appointed by Marshall.

Assignments & Academic Calendar   The readings apart from the books by Cernea and Dulles are on the web. Where the list says JSTOR, they can be found in the library (web) on the JSTOR data base.  You should be able to get them by entering what I have written in the JSTOR search.  Otherwise, I have put in links. If you can't find a reading email me promptly, any time. I will fix the reference or the link as soon as I can.  You are probably not the only person with the problem.

Schedule of Assignments 




23 Aug



Nigerian un-development—what we should understand and avoid (slides and discussion). The powerpoint shown in class is also in the dropbox.  It is Nigeria Development.ptt.

30 Aug

Start Central Planning USSR

1.     Bye, R. T.  1929. Central Planning and Coordination of Production in Soviet Russia .  20. p  JSTOR    

2. Web presentation of U S Dept of State talk by Hans Rosling: (view this at home; we will not do it in class).

3. Davis Soviet Russia in the light of history. 1928. 8 p. JSTOR    

4. Bogdanov. Soviet Planning. 1932. 10 p. JSTOR.   

6 Sep

Socialism (one more)





1.   Sarti, R. Fascist Modernization in Italy: Traditional or Revolutionary?  14 p. JSTOR

3. Einzig. Hitler's New Order in Theory and Practice 18 p. JSTOR,

4. Ropke. Fascist Economics. 1935. 17 p. JSTOR

13 Sep

 New Deal









The New Deal introduced a new concept of economic regulation: industry self-regulation, with government oversight and participation to assure transparency.  This is what we now see in the SEC for stocks, FDIC for savings accounts, and all manner of state and national commissions such as the state insurance commissions, dairy commissions, railroad commissions, public utility commissions, and so on--running to thousands of separate bodies.  This type of regulation in turn became part of the implementation of the Marshall Plan, and thereby has now also become part of the institutional structure of the EU.

1. Gulick. Politics Admin and the New Deal. 1933.13 p. JSTOR

2. Nourse.  Agricultural Adjustment Concept.  1936. 13 p. JSTOR

3. Lester, R. A. War Controls of Materials, Equipment, and Manpower. 19 p. JSTOR

4.  Karl. Constitution and Central Planning: The Third New Deal Revisited. 39 p.  JSTOR.

Background list of New Deal legislation:

20 Sep

Marshall Plan

1.    Marshall Plan:  Was it an economic “plan?”

2.    Marshall Plan:  What was the problem with Russia and vice versa?


27 Sep

1.    Marshall Plan: What were the Industrial Policies?

2.    Marshall Plan: What were the Agricultural Policies?

4 Oct


1.    Marshall Plan: What were the Political Policies?

2.    Marshall Plan: Why was it successful?

3. The Money Lenders (Video critical of World Bank)

4. World Bank Website. Look at the whole site, but especially go to About Us>History>Archive>Presidents. Look at the biographies of the presidents. How much would you expect such people to k now about development needs in non-western countries?

11 Oct

Specialization and Forced Savings.

1. Ashraf Ghani on rebuilding broken states. A presentation to the U S Department of State in 2005. Relevant to the same problems in present system of providing aid as the WB film is.  He is now President of Afghanistan.

2. Class discussion of physical farm budget (Leaf)

18 Oct


Supposed limits on planning

Although the New Deal and the Marshall Plan introduced a vision of economic growth closely intertwined with broad political participation, the World Bank, which began in part as institution to facilitate Marshall Plan financial transactions, has reverted to methods of working more akin to authoritarian central planning. This film is on the Bank and its effects. We will come back to the Marshall plan and the decentralized alternative next week.

1.  Friedman. Monetarism. 1983. 13 p. JSTOR

2. Minsky, H. Financial Instability Hypothesis.    JSTOR.   11 p.

3. Hayek, FA v. 1945.  The Use of Knowledge in Society  (JSTOR.)

4. Back to Farm Budget Models if we have time

25 Oct

Population, Surplus labor and/or unemployment

1.  Rostow, W. W. 1956. The Take-Off to Self-Sustained Growth. 23. JSTOR

2.  Hardin.  Tragedy of the Commons. 1968.  7p  JSTOR

3. Ehrlich.  Impact of Population Growth. 1971. 7 p. JSTOR

4.  Look at the UNDP Human Development Index website 

 1 Nov

 Agriculture and Development

1. Copestake, James. Theories of Economic Development 1999.


2. Myrdal. UN, Agriculture, and the World Economic Revolution. 1964. 12 p.  JSTOR

3. Johnson, D. G. Agriculture and the Wealth of Nations. 1997. 12 p.
4. Kelley. Human Development Index. 1991. 11 p. JSTOR

3. Make up new midterm.  Midterm for Fall 2016 is  here.



Midterm as discussed in class will be here.  I have also emailed it to everyone. 4 questions.

8 Nov

Agriculture and Food

1. Film: Goddess and the Computer.

An article by me on irrigation management in India is in JSTOR: Irrigation and Authority in Rajasthan.

2. Leaf. Green Revolution in a Punjab Village. 1983. 45 p. JSTOR

A related paper describing indigenous methods of farm decision making, with spread-sheet examples is at

3.    Rome Declaration on World Food Security.1996. 2 p.  JSTOR

4.  CGIAR statement on food and sustainability

5.  Judge. Response to Dams in Indian States. 1993. 13 p. JSTOR

6. Leaf review of Researching Culture of Agriculture 

15 Nov

Putting People First






Putting People First:

1. Cernea: Knowledge from Social Science For Development Policies and Projects.

2. Putting People First: Chap 12: Kottack: When People Don’t Come First. 

3. Putting People First: Chap 2. Coward: Irrigated areas.

4. Putting People First: Chap 4. Freedman: Middle Level Farmers Organizations

5. Putting People First Chap 13: Uphoff: Fitting Projects to People.  

22 Nov

No Class

Thanksgiving Holiday Break (all week). Read Ahead.

Good videos to watch that fit into what we have been discussing:

Washing Machine:

Development Statistics:

29 Nov

Former Communist states: decentralization and creation of legal regulation.

1.  EU World Energy and Technology Outlook 2050  in dropbox—not for a preparation.

2.  Zweig Jianhai.  China's Global Hunt for Energy. JSTOR

3. Cao.  Chinese Privatization Between Plan and Market.   JSTOR

4. Challenges to Family Farming in China G. Veeck and W. Shaohua JSTOR

5. Institutional Reform in Transition: A Case Study of RussiaAuthor(s): Bernard S. Black and Anna S. Tarassova. Source: Supreme Court Economic Review, Vol. 10, The Rule of Law, Freedom, and Prosperity (2003), pp. 211-278. Published by: The University of Chicago Press. Stable URL: .

6. Hector Colon. Monopolies in Mexico Box

6 Dec

Last Class

1. Open Letter from J M Keynes to President Roosevelt. In

2. Besley, T. and Persson, P. (2014) Why Do Developing Countries Tax So Little? JSTOR 

3.  Neale, W C. 1990.  ABSOLUTE CULTURAL RELATIVISM: FIRM FOUNDATION FOR VALUING AND POLICY   Journal of Economic Issues, 0021-3624, June 1, 1990, Vol. 24, Issue 2  NOT JSTOR BUT ON WEB. Also in 

16 Dec

Research papers due?

Official exam day (I think).  Papers due in my office at class time. (Class does not meet)




 Country Development Sketches by M. Leaf:

1. Korea

2. Thailand

3. Japan




Film: The Money Lenders. The World Bank & International Monetary Fund: A Global Report. 85 minutes. VT2545

A very good Al Jazeera documentary on a cotton growing village in Turkey that is losing its population:


Grading Policy

The grade will be based 20% on the class presentations, 30% on the midterm, and 50% on a final paper.  The midterm will be take-home, essay format, and call for critical evaluation of important theoretical ideas from the readings and discussion. 


Course & Instructor Policies

I do not allow “extra credit” or make up work.   It is too difficult to assure fairness. You are expected to complete all assignments on time. Anything not handed in on time is failed unless you have made an arrangement with me in advance.


No Field Trips


Standard UTD policies are procedures for all classes are on the U T Dallas website at: