Development studies is a multidisciplinary subject that focuses on the evolution of nations from political, cultural, geographical, and socio-economic perspectives. It emerged as an academic discipline during the late part of the 20th century amid growing concerns for third world economies struggling to establish themselves in the postcolonial era.
More recently, academics turned their attention towards Western states, seeking to address today’s (and tomorrow’s) most pressing issues by studying their cultural and political development. In other words, development studies is about understanding the current political landscape by examining their origins, which then enables academics, politicians, and world charity organizations to make better plans for the future.
Development studies is oriented towards improving the tools, practices and policies of development in a normative and intentional sense, as well as towards critique of these tools, practices, policies and of the broader processes of change. Development Studies also entails critical reflection on the goals of development and the way it is implemented in aid of better policy, approaches and outcomes.
Development Studies is an interdisciplinary field of research and teaching that takes ‘development’ as its central concern. It addresses the processes of social, cultural, ecological, economic and political change, and also the people, organisations, practices, and knowledge that engage in these development-related processes.
Through development studies, we seek to bring a critical perspective to applied real world problems, and the policies, programmes and practices behind these. Historically, our focus was on poorer countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This now extends to development issues worldwide. We particularly aim to understand the interconnections between global, regional, national and local processes of change.
Because real life is complex, development studies bring together diverse disciplines. With roots in anthropology, economics, sociology, politics and geography, it may also combine with others such as psychology, law, management, natural science, history, agriculture or engineering.