Welcome to Politics of Developing Nations (POSC 321), online! The “developing world” encompasses a diverse set of countries ranging from Brazil to Saudi Arabia to Mozambique. Once referred to as the Third World, this group of countries was at one time a catch-all category for countries that did not make up the wealthy, industrialized capitalist states (the “First World”) or did not belong to the “Second World” made up of the Soviet Union and its satellites. As a result, the countries of the developing world encompass a variety of political systems, ranging from democracies to authoritarian regimes. They also include countries with vastly different levels of wealth and measures of human welfare.
A few countries that were once considered part of the Third World, such as South Korea, are now considered ‘developed’, while other countries have seen their conditions grow worse over time. There is not only great diversity between states of the developing world, but within them as well. China has seen a huge growth in wealth over the last few decades, with a third of the population moving into the ranks of the middle class. Meanwhile in the rural areas of China, millions remain in desperate poverty.
Despite these dramatic differences, the developing world does share some important common features. Most were at one time colonies of one of the European powers. Many countries face conditions, such as extreme poverty, high rates of population growth and political instability. According to the United Nations, approximately 1.2 billion people around the world earn less than $1 per day and nearly 3 billion make less than $2 per day. Many countries face enormous challenges in closing the economic gap between themselves and the countries of the First World, creating effective and legitimate governments, and in striking a balance between economic growth and environmental protection. Much of the course will be focused on explaining the plight of the ‘bottom billion’ and what can be done to improve the situation for the world’s most impoverished countries.
Why should we be interested in problems and prospects of the developing world? Most of the world is the developing world. Two-thirds of the world’s countries and nearly 80% of its population live in the developing world. Furthermore, we live in an increasingly interdependent world, where events in one part of the globe have repercussions far removed geographically.
In this course we will investigate the challenges facing the countries of the developing world in three main areas: economic, political and social. Our general discussion of these topics will be illustrated with numerous specific examples from a variety of countries.
At the conclusion of this course students should have an appreciation of the diverse range of states that make up the developing world. Students should also be familiar with the major economic, political, and social challenges facing the developing world and the way these countries and the international community have addressed them.
This course meets the Multicultural graduation requirement.