Chris Blattman

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My graduate political economy of development classes

After some struggle, my syllabi are now prepared.

My master’s (SIPA) syllabus is here. This is a substantive class that traces the political underpinnings of development, and the political impacts of economic change. The slides from the first class are here. I’ll try to post them here in future. Apologies for sloppy citations in advance. They are slides, after all.

My political science PhD syllabus is here. The course is substantively about frontiers of research in the political economy of development, and I try not to assign papers more than a couple of years old. But it’s also a methods course that trains PhD students in applied theory and empirical methods, and gets them thinking about paper proposals, how to write referee reports or NSF applications, and other subtle socialization and indoctrination. The slides from the first class are here. I won’t usually have slides, but the first two classes introduce basic growth and development theories, so just those two have them.

The PhD slides have my first inklings of a framework for thinking about research in political economy of development. My idea is that we should be able to draw a tree from the fundamental questions (the trunk), the big questions (the boughs), and the little questions (the branches). We should be able to hang every paper on that tree. It’s a device I use when I get a paper to referee.

If you are wondering what the roots to the tree are, well of course it’s the egos and established interests of faculty in the field. So of course the big lesson for my students is that they should mainly aim to burn it down.

Comments on my framework very welcome.

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