Decolonising Sustainable Development? Introductory lessons from the Global South

The course introduces literature on critical development studies and civic activism to familiarise and understand the colonial legacy of development studies, decolonial thinking, and current debates on knowledge and practices in the field.

5 ECTS Credits — Studies start 5 September 2022 — University of Eastern Finland

Photo credit: Mariana Elizabeth Gutiérrez, 2019, Flamingo in Holbox
Photo credit: Mariana Elizabeth Gutiérrez, 2019, Flamingo in Holbox

Course dates

5 September 2022 – 18 October 2022

Registration period

1 August 2022 – 22 August 2022

Coordinating university

University of Eastern Finland

Instructors

Violeta Gutierrez Zamora
Jasmin Immonen

Credits

5 ECTS

Course dates: 05.09. - 18.10.2022
Registration dates: 01.08. - 22.08.2022
Coordinating university: University of Eastern Finland
Responsible teachers: Violeta Gutierrez Zamora () & Jasmin Immonen ()
Credits: 5 ECTS
Course offered: 2/3

Course summary

The course introduces literature on critical development studies and civic activism to familiarise the student with the colonial legacy of development studies, decolonial thinking, and current debates on knowledge and practices in the field. The course is structured across three interlinked themes: 1) environmental sustainability, 2) racism, and 3) gender equality. The course will go through the economic, social, and philosophical roots in development studies and how different grassroots organisations and social movements in the Global South have challenged the concept of development in general and on mainstream sustainable development through a decolonial critique.

The students will explore what contributions decolonial critique can make to sustainable development. The sessions will allow students to consider how diverse factors such as gender, class, and race intersect in sustainable development efforts and assess if and how sustainable development as a concept could also be decolonised. The intersections of race and gender in sustainable development efforts will be explored through ethnographic case examples.

Learning outcomes

After the course, the participants will:

  • Gain a good basic knowledge about decolonial theory and development critique; critically assess how power reproduces itself in development practice and its relationship with global discourses and hierarchies.
  • Understand the philosophical underpinnings of the demands of decolonisation made by grassroots organisations in the Global South.
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of debates around colonial legacies of human-nature relationships, gender inequality and racism.
  • Form arguments about what the Global South can teach to the Global North.

Learning methods

  • This course will consist of online lectures plus collaborative and autonomous study. The students will attend online classes in conjunction with reading scientific papers, media articles and other websites. The online classes take place on Tuesdays from 15.00 to 17.00
  • The students will be required to do readings before the start of the lecture. After every lecture (30-45min), the teacher will pose a question/questions to the students about the lecture content and readings. The students will be separated into break-out rooms to discuss the question. After a break-out room discussion, the students return to feed the answers to the rest of the group.
  • The course encourages reflection on the colonial legacy in everyday practice, news, and institutional discourses. The questions will have three components: 1) Information, 2) Reflection, and 3) Engagement. For the last component, the student will be asked to provide examples of countering a contradiction in development in practice.
  • Students will be asked to revise websites and platforms used by activists to draw connections with what they have been learning to understand the voices and lessons from the Global South.
  • The course will also use Moodle and Zoom as virtual learning environments.

Study materials

The online course will consists of academic articles and book readings, and access to different activist websites, platforms and podcasts/radio from Global South countries.

Assessment

For successful completion, the students need to fulfill 80% of the course tasks and lecture attendance. After each lecture, students will submit their learning diary with their reflections to gain feedback.

The final course work has three options:

1) A video series or a podcast series that answers the question "What lessons can the Global South teach to Sustainable Development".

2) A written essay of 3000 words answering the question "What lessons can the Global South teach to Sustainable Development".

3) An essay of 3000 words that evaluates two or three of the following books together:

  1. Aimé Césaire (2000), Discourse on Colonialism
  2. Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2003), Feminism Without Borders: Decolonising Theory, Practicing Solidarity
  3. Arturo Escobar (2020), Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible
  4. W. Adams and M. Mulligan (2003), Decolonizing Nature: Strategies for conservation in a post-colonial era

Course schedule

The online classes take place on Tuesdays from 15.00 to 17.00.

Additional information

The maximum number of participants is 25.

The course is suitable for any person interested in the Global South and/or a person studying or working in development and/or activism. The course requires no prior knowledge on the subject but the student selection will be based on the motivation and the diversity among students from different universities and programs.

Virtual Studies Course Catalogue