Development studies examines development, poverty, inequality as well as social, political, environmental and cultural changes and continuities in the Global South from a multidisciplinary perspective. At the University of Helsinki, development studies focuses on topics such as the theory and history of development, development policy, global justice, and the relationship between development and culture, gender, space and the environment as well as the global political economy. Development studies has expanded from being strictly centred on the developing countries towards a more holistic understanding and exploration of new creative opportunities and alternatives for the future.
What is development studies?
The discipline of development studies examines development, poverty, inequality as well as social, political, environmental and cultural changes and continuities in the Global South from a multidisciplinary perspective. Development studies has expanded from being strictly centred on the developing countries to include diverse South-North relations in our globalising world. In Finland, development studies exists as a separate discipline only at the University of Helsinki, where it is a well-established social science.
Read more in our statement about the discipline on our blog site.
The term ‘developing countries’ is used of Asian, African and Latin American countries that were connected to the world economy through colonialism and to the global system as possessions of European colonial powers. Previous research emphasised the differences between developing countries and “developed”, modern countries. Today, this distinction is challenged by research approaches representing postmodernism, postcolonialism and development criticism. The mutual diversity and differences of developing countries have also drawn more attention. Contemporary research explores, for example, the effects of globalisation, environmental change and development policy on the opportunities of people in developing countries to make choices about their lives.
At the University of Helsinki, development studies is a fairly new and international discipline which has a multidisciplinary background. Its current focus areas include the following:
- Globalisation and development
- The environment, development and political ecology
- Natural resources policy, resource-based economy and environmental management
- Cities in developing countries
- Migration and mobility
- State formation, politics and power
- Social movements, civil society and alternative notions and practices of development
- Conflicts and development
- Sustainable development and justice
Information about the events organised by development studies can be found in the 'events' section of the blog.
Also, you can browse other events organised by the Faculty or by other units via Event Calendar.
- Citizenship Utopias in the Global South: The Pursuit of Transformative Alternatives in Times of Civic Disillusionment
- CONVIVA: Convival Conservation
- FCITIES: Fragile cities in the global South: Societal security, environmental vulnerability and representative justice
- ENVGOV: Environmental vulnerability, social resilience and multi-scale governance
- Gendered Political Violence and Urban Post-Disaster Reconstruction
- Water and fire: Volatile ecologies and politics of vulnerabilization in the global South (2018-2022)
- Goal 4+: Including Eco-cultural Pluralism in Quality Education in Ecuadorian Amazonia (2018-2022)
Research projects involving the discipline are listed in the research portal.
Degree programmes that offer teaching in development studies
- Bachelor’s Programme in Society and Change (in Finnish)
- Master’s Programme in Society and Change (in Finnish)
- Master's Programme in Contemporary Societies
- Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Changes
More information on degrees: Degree finder of the University of Helsinki
- Finnish Society for Development Research
- European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI)
- Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC)
- Centre for Corporate Responsibility (CCR)
- World-Ecology Research Network
- ICCA Consortium