Why is Africa poor and politically volatile and what, if anything, can and should the West do about it?

That was what I wanted to name my lecture course, but the Yale powers that be said that would look weird on a transcript.

Fair enough.

The syllabus is here for those interested. (Link fixed)

12 thoughts on “Why is Africa poor and politically volatile and what, if anything, can and should the West do about it?

  1. this was such a good class – great readings, engaging lectures, and helped my writing and critical reading of econ/polisci papers.

  2. I wish the course will be posted on iTunes U or youtube. I’d love to learn more about this topic.

  3. I’m Yale 09, I’ve been following your blog for about two years since coming back to work in development in Kenya. It makes me sad that during my time there, I didn’t look outside my science major and take classes such as this. As others have asked, it is possible to make the class available on OCY or iTunesU?

  4. Chris, The course looks brilliant.
    Question 1: Why no exams? What about seen exams instead? (released 72 hours before assessment, so students have a chance to reflect on the questions posed).
    Question 2: Do students and teachers complain about the workload of submitting multiple critical commentaries? These sound like a brilliant idea, and I’m inclined to follow suit, but worry about the imposition on student time.

  5. Unfortunately I won’t be offering the course online. Taping lectures is complicated logistically and legally, and changes the learning experience for students in the class. It’s also a great deal more prep work. I may do it in a future year but a lot of work and hurdles are involved that I’m simply stretched too thin for at the moment. Apologies.

    As for the choice of writing assignments over exams and workload, it’s a lot more work but a lot more learning. There is excess demand for the course and the best way to cope with that is to raise the price!

  6. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your illuminating posts. I always enjoy reading your perspective and appreciate your diligence in blogging. You have inspired many conversations. One thing I wonder though, is why a course title should contain “Africa” juxtaposed with “poor” at all? As you well know, Africa can not be generalized. It seems that that is assuming that an entire continent (from Mandela to Ghaddafi and everyone in between) are poor seems somewhat reckless… breaking down that stereotype is probably a more productive strategy and perhaps your course does just that. I mean no offense by this comment but it just seems apparent that that is exactly how so many development, conservation, aid and foreign policy initiatives have gone wrong…
    Best Regards,

  7. Interesting syllabus Chris! Thanks for sharing. I noticed you give a map quiz. Have you done that before? I tried map quizzes when I taught “Politics of Developing Countries” and students did not like it at all. I’d be interested to hear what your students think.