Lesson Plan: Development

Lesson Plan: Development

Topic: Key Topics and Contemporary Issues: Development

Week #: 12

Estimated Time: 150-180 minutes


Assigned Readings:

  1. Arvanitakis, James and David J. Hornsby. 2017. “Global Poverty and Wealth.” In International Relations, Stephen McGlinchey, ed. Adapted by Katherine Michel. (13 pages, core reading)
  2. Soubbotina, Tatyana P. 2004a. “What is Development?” and “Comparing Levels of Development,” in Beyond Economic Growth: An Introduction to Sustainable Development, Second Edition. Washington, DC: World Bank. (10 pages, core reading)
  3. Soubbotina, Tatyana P. 2004b. “Health and Longevity,” in Beyond Economic Growth: An Introduction to Sustainable Development, Second Edition. Washington, DC: World Bank. (10 pages, core reading)
  4. Labrador, Rocio Cara. 2018. “Haiti’s Troubled Path to Development.” Council on Foreign Relations. Available at (10 pages printed, news piece)


Total page count: 33 plus 1 online text (43 pages if all printed)


Learning Objectives:

By the end of this lesson plan, students will be able to:

  1. Define development.
  2. Compare multiple development measurement methods.
  3. Identify factors that influence a country’s level of development.
  4. Analyze the role of the international community in encouraging development.

Misconceptions of Topic:

  1. Students often have a limited understanding of how countries compare in terms of development. They may make broad generalizations about the “developing world” (or “third world”), such as describing an entire region (or continent) in this manner; they may assume that uniformity exists within the “developed” and “developing” categories (ignoring inequality within states, for example); and they may have negative preconceived notions about “developing” societies.
  2. Students may overestimate the amount of official development assistance (aid) that “developed” states send to “developing” states.



Lesson Component


Lecture: Review learning objectives

Lecture slides

Brainstorm activity: What is “development”?

Lecture slides

Gapminder, development, country sorting activity

Optional: online video and discussion

Online resource:

Ted Talk (2006), “The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen” (19:50)


Lecture and discussion: What is development?

  • Conceptualizations
  • Operationalizations

Readings 1, 2, and 3

Lecture slides


Optional online resource about the World Happiness Report:

NowThis World (2018), “Happiest Countries in the World: Explained” (5:58)


Lecture and discussion: What conditions influence level of development?

  • In-depth case examination: Haiti

Readings 1 and 4

Lecture slides



Optional online resource:

Vox (2017), “Divided island: How Haiti and the DR became two worlds”


Lecture and discussion: What can the international community do to encourage development?

  • Official development assistance (aid)
  • Trade and investment
  • Money-lending (loans)
  • United Nations’ goals (MDGs, SDGs)

Reading 1

Lecture slides


Optional reading about Chinese lending in Africa:

Campbell, John. 2019. “How Will China React to Uganda’s Looming Debt Crisis?Council on Foreign Relations.


Optional online resource about SDGs:

Ted Talk (2015), “How We Can Make the World a Better Place by 2030” (14:39)


Conclude and wrap-up

Lecture slides



Required Readings: Development


Introducing the readings:

This unit's readings provide an introduction to development. The Arvanitakis and Hornsby (2017) core reading (adapted by Katherine Michel) assesses global trends, defines poverty, considers structural conditions that make development difficult, describes efforts at reducing poverty (e.g., aid, trade), and grapples with the effects of globalization on development.

The first excerpt from Soubbotina (2004a) considers how to define and operationalize level of development. The second excerpt from Soubbotina (2004b) expands on these (mainly economic) development operationalizations by also considering health measures.

To go beyond questions of conceptualization and operationalization, the Labrador (2018) reading looks at development in one case: Haiti. This reading pushes students to consider what factors can hinder development (see complementary worksheet).