Global Development Studies

Kehitysmaatutkimus

Global Development Studies (formerly known as '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, Global 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. Global 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 Global Development Studies?

The discipline of Global 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. Global Development Studies has expanded from being strictly centred on the developing countries to include diverse South-North relations in our globalising world. In Finland, global 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.

Multidisciplinary research

The term ‘developing countries’ is used for 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, Global 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 

Head of discipline: University Lecturer Marjaana Jauhola