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Institutions in Time: Development



[BSc], GED, ID, PSc

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: students should have completed a 100-level course in the ID or PSc Majors, preferably Introduction to Development Studies, Introduction to Comparative Politics, or Institutions of Governance and Development.

Course description

The world is an unequal place. It hosts the unparalleled wealth and opportunities of the rich OECD countries, alongside the crushing poverty of the ‘bottom billion’. Moreover, this enormous development gap may never been greater than it is today. But what is this concept of ‘development’? How does it work? And, perhaps most importantly, what can we do to enhance it? These are the questions at the core of development studies and the International Development track at LUC. Institutions in Time explores the ways in which institutions, or the rules and organisations that structure society, change over time and the ways in which this may affect human development. To this end, the course will take students through the different ways of analyzing long historical processes and explore the usefulness of theories of institutional change as a means to understand the process that drives development. Students are also challenged to apply their (newfound) knowledge to case studies, in order to get a better appreciation of the complexity of structural societal change. Most importantly, the course helps students to think critically about assumptions of linear progress and simple, technocratic solutions in international development, and to formulate their own thoughts on what might actually ‘work’.

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will:

  • Be able to describe core challenges of international development empirically and identify different theoretical approaches to these challenges.

  • Have shown proficiency in reproducing theories of institutional change and applying and evaluating them empirically through (comparative) case studies of development challenges.

  • Be able to describe the long historical development of human societies through different analytical lenses.


Class participation
Short essays
Final essay