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MIDP Courses

MIDP Seminar Descriptions (Fall 2019)

PUBPOL 598.01                                              

Economic Growth and Development   |  Fernando Fernholz

This course explores the basic economic principles and policy issues in the study of economic growth and development. During the course, we analyze the relationships between economic growth and development and the roles of physical, natural and human capital and technological innovation, productivity improvements, history and institutions in explaining patterns and causes of variations in growth and development performance of countries.  Topics will include effects on growth, development, welfare, sustainability and poverty of many current policy issues and challenges including climate change and environment, social sector policies (e.g. health and education), public finance, infrastructure, financial crises, internal and external debt management, trade and private sector activities, foreign aid and investment, institutions and governance.


PUBPOL 700S.01/700S.03/700S.04

Policy Analysis for Development |  Natalia Mirovitskaya/Rosemary Fernholz

The broad objectives of this seminar are: 1) to examine the role of policy analysis in solving important social problems; and 2) to develop the analytical and communication skills of participants in order to undertake effective policy analysis. This seminar examines the public policy objectives and the role of policy analysis in achieving these objectives, market and government failures, the role of the public and private sector, policy analysis tools (e.g. cost-benefit analysis, decision analysis, etc.), and policy implementation and evaluation. Emphasis is given to specific policy problems (e.g. social, environmental, health problems) based on the interests of the participants. This seminar relies on case studies, application of policy analysis tools, exercises, memos, policy critiques, and discussions with policy analysts. At the end of the semester participants should be able to understand policy issues and choices, why policies fail, how to use policy tools to reach decisions, and how to evaluate policies.


PUPBPOL 701.01                             

Economic Foundations for Development | Cory Krupp         

This course is an overview of microeconomic and macroeconomic principles related to development. The objective of the course is to provide analytical tools for the study of economic policies and problems in developing countries. The seminar includes presentation of theoretical material and its application to current topics and problems.


PUBPOL 711.01                                              

Public Policy Writing Practicum | Dean Storelli

The goal of this course is to introduce you to several key principles of good writing. We will use your own writing for your other courses as the "raw material" of the class. The key principles we will cover - through in-class exercises, lecture and homework - will include the following: 1. the role of culture in determining style; 2. writing clear sentences; 3. writing focused, connected paragraphs; 4. motivating your reader; and 5. pulling papers into a coherent whole.


PUBPOL 713.01                                              

Professional Editing Practicum | Dean Storelli

To be effective, policy writing must be well-structured, clear and free from distractions. While most of our writing efforts must be focused on content, in today's world, writers must also learn how to pay attention to form and format. In this short course, you will learn the mindset and specific skills need for a professional level of writing and editing.


PUBPOL 721S.01               

Institutional Design for International Development Managers | Francis Lethem

The objective of this seminar is to explore organizational and institutional design methodology and its application towards promoting a more sustainable development. The seminar is structured to deal with the macro and micro institutional levels; structures and processes, including design of interagency coordination mechanisms; basic principles for managing people; and how to evaluate whether an institutional design is successful. Intensive use is made of case studies dealing primarily with the environmental, social and infrastructure sectors in developing and transitional countries, and often based on final papers prepared by MIDP and NSOE alumni. As a seminar product, participants are expected to apply the seminar’s methodology either to an institutional situation or design of their choice which would be relevant to the development of their preferred country, or to a comprehensive case written by the instructor.


PUBPOL 724.01                               

The Politics of International Aid in Low-Income Countries  |  Phyllis Pomerantz

The effectiveness of aid in low-income countries has been the subject of intense debate.  The course will examine the context and objectives of international aid, the record and lessons, and recent efforts and proposals for change within the international community.  There is a special (but not exclusive) focus on Africa, since more robust growth and poverty reduction on that continent are at the center of the aid effectiveness debate.  In this exploration of the politics of aid, attention will be focused on the principal stakeholders, their motivations, and the quality of interaction among the various players (Governments, NGOs, bilateral donors, and multilateral institutions), along with the bottom line – whether aid is resulting in poverty reduction in low-income countries.  By the end of the course, students will be familiar with recent literature on the topic, key debates surrounding aid effectiveness, the policies and actions of different donors, and recent proposals and measures aimed at improving development assistance.  The course is primarily a group discussion, with occasional mini-lectures, student presentations, debates, case studies, two papers, and a final simulation.


PUBPOL 761.01                                              

Human Rights and Conflict | Catherine Admay

In this course we learn the most important basics of the overall international human rights and humanitarian law framework and the ways it is helpful to use—or not—when faced with concrete cases of conflict, be it war or other forms of large scale suffering.  We learn the political history of this legal framework so Fellows have an unglorified, concrete and realistic idea of this law as it stands today.  Indeed, a central aim of the course is to help Fellows know about, and then be equipped to better navigate in your own professional lives, the three leading practitioner camps that have developed to promote conflict resolution and peacebuilding, including (1) conflict resolvers, (2) human rights advocates/lawyers and (3) humanitarian workers.  How is conflict, and the various ways to address it, framed by each of these camps of practitioners? What sort of tradeoffs and priorities must we consider in any situation and stage of conflict? Is “peace versus justice” one of them? When might demands for human rights precipitate or fuel—as much as prevent or transform—conflicts? Are human rights essential for what the field of conflict resolution has termed “positive peace”?  Or for “restorative justice”? Or should policymakers involved in multiple stages or types of conflict be more cautious about viewing rights as a remedy for conflicts? What practical measures have been developed for post conflict situations? Where lies the promise and the peril for key institutions like the International Criminal Court, UN Special Rapporteurs, and the Human Rights Council and their various proceedings? How must we take into account the relevant power and cross-cultural considerations? Can we ourselves be productively inspired by the particular peace-building and conflict transformation work we learn about in the course of the class? To consider these and other questions of interest to the members of the class, we connect the contemporary legal framework for human rights and the three-camps approaches to real-world efforts underway by practitioners to reframe and transform conflict and build peace. There is no expectation that students have prior academic exposure to law; instead we are always enriched by whatever experience, including with the law, our class members, and practitioners who join us as guests, bring to the class.


PUBPOL 770.01                               

Public Finance in Developing And Emerging Economies  | Gangadhar Shukla/Sandeep Bhattacharya                                                                                                                                       

Covers the basic theory, policy and practice of public finance in these economies. It examines the economic roles and rationale for government and potential methods of financing government expenditures. The nature of fiscal policy and its relationship to macroeconomic policy is examined, including issues of foreign aid, debt financing and inflation. The course analyzes the approaches to pricing, financing and evaluating public sector outputs such as roads, water, education and electricity. It then reviews and analyzes taxes on trade, consumption, income, property and natural resources considering their economic efficiency and administrative costs and distributional impacts. The methods and importance of forecasting revenues are presented. Special topics include the design and role of tax incentives and environmental taxes.


PUBPOL 776.01                                              

Public Budgeting and Financial Management  |    Gangadhar Shukla/Roy Kelly

Focuses on the policies, procedures, and skills needed for effective budgeting and financial management in the public sector. Core topics to be covered in the course include budget systems and controls, public sector accounting and costing, financial reporting for accountability, and capital budgeting and debt management. The course provides the analytical skills needed to understand the links between budgeting and the macro-fiscal framework, the political decision-making process, and the interests of citizens. The emphasis is on the theory and international practice of budgeting, with particular application to developing countries. Issues of program and performance budgeting, participatory budgeting and citizen accountability, and decentralized fiscal systems will be discussed.


PUBPOL 779.01/LAW 560.01                        

Sales and Value Added Tax Law | Peter Barnes/ Gangadhar Shukla

Sales and Value-Added Tax Law covers the legal frameworks and detailed technical issues related to VAT and sales tax systems. Com­parisons are drawn between the VAT and sales taxes, and between the tax legislation provisions used in various countries. Aside from the basic tax structures, the course also highlights innovations in VATs and the treatment of special sectors such as the real property, financial, agriculture and public interest sectors. Approaches for dealing with the application of VATs and sales taxes in the context of federations and common markets are also considered. The principal focus is on VAT, with sales tax being compared as appropriate to highlight the differences.  The aim of the course is to enable you to think about VAT (or sales tax), whether from the perspective of what the law is, what it should be, or how it might be administered.  More generally, the course is designed to sharpen your skills to think like a lawyer, like a policymaker, and like a tax administrator.  We will also examine VAT law on a comparative basis, and discuss what contribution a comparative law viewpoint brings to an understanding of VAT. After taking the course, you should understand how the VAT works, be able to interpret VAT laws (we will consult several, as well as discussing cases), be familiar with the main problems and issues of VAT (for example, the consequences of exemptions), and have a feel for how the VAT differs from the income tax.  We will discuss the definition of all legal elements of the VAT (taxpayer, taxable event, tax base, rates, tax period) and how the tax is collected as a matter of procedure.  The focus will be on problem areas of defining these elements.  This analysis should equip you with the ability to handle VAT problems in the future, or indeed to deal with any tax, since all taxes have these basic common elements.


PUBPOL 790.02                                                            

Big Debates in Development |  Indermit Gill

This course takes students to the frontiers of development policy. It introduces core economic concepts and provides students with methods to formulate their own views.  The course covers eight debates, each centered on a current policy discussion around the world. Examples include: Are capitalist economies destined to grow ever more unequal? Was the Washington Consensus for Latin America correct after all? Does democracy help or hurt development? Is China headed into a middle-income trap? What makes Africa special: its geography or its institutions? Upon completing this course, students should be able to deconstruct arguments on current issues in international development, and provide policy briefings on these questions.


PUBPOL 790.03                                                            

Monitoring and Evaluation  |  Hans-Martin Boehmer

Over the past few decades, there has been a tremendous growth in the demand for evidence-based decision making in development. The evidence that the use of sound Monitoring and Evaluation frameworks leads to better project outcomes in the private and public sector has long been established.  Nevertheless, multilateral institutions are struggling to raise the quality of project level M&E frameworks.This course is structured around the three roles that require a sound understanding of the practice and theory of monitoring and evaluation.  In addition, it provides a common language for monitoring and evaluation and concludes with a group-based project that puts to practice, and challenges, the understanding of each of the roles.  The seminar will introduce the participants to the essential analytical framework used in evaluation and the variety of tools.  This first segment will also address the full range of evaluation work that fellows may encounter in the future.  The second segment looks at the role of the commissioner of evaluations.  The third segment looks at the role of the evaluator in carrying out an evaluation.  The fourth segment focuses on the role of the user of evaluations.  The final segment focuses on integrating the entire cycle, reviews elements, and most importantly tries to identify areas where future (or already existing technologies and governance structures), could advance the state of the art in development monitoring and evaluation.  This goes to the fundamental premise of the seminar that development M&E remains a relatively young profession with huge potential for the future of development.  The greatest mistake would be to consider the status quo in any country or development organization as having reached its pinnacle.  The successful student should emerge with a thorough understanding of the current practices, as well as a critical view of areas where the potential for future improvements is significant.


PUBPOL 790.04                                              

Science, Technology & Development Policy  |    Ravtosh Bal

Science and technology play a crucial role in sustainable and inclusive development. They have the potential to provide solutions to societal challenges and contribute to outcomes that enhance the quality of life. Achieving these goals requires responsible governance of science and technology, consideration of the social and ethical implications of new technologies, and policy making that is attuned to the interconnectedness between science and society. This course examines the complex interactions between science, technology, policy and development using a comparative perspective. The course will cover the role of science and technology in development, the tools and methods used to regulate science and technology, and the differing structure and impacts of science and technology policies in various contexts. The goal of the course is to critically examine the linkages between science, technology and development and the myriad ways in which they shape and are shaped by policy.


PUBPOL 790.05                               

Introduction to Peace and Conflict Resolution  |   Rosemary Fernholz

The objective of this seminar is to provide an introduction to the multi-disciplinary field of Peace and Conflict Studies as a foundation for and complement to the overall Rotary Curriculum through course content which: 1. Provides an introduction to the field of Peace and Conflict Studies,  2. Emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of peace and conflict studies, 3. Provides students with the appropriate analytical tools to think critically about questions relating to the origins and dynamics of conflict, as well as the possibility of peace.


PUBPOL 790.06                                                                           

Impact Evaluation  | Sandeep Bhattacharya

This course is designed as a complement to Empirical Analysis for Development (PUBPOL 741) or other introductory courses in empirical methods.  It aims to explore techniques in regression analysis with the objective of using them in quantitative impact evaluation. It introduces students to STATA and builds on the use of regression analysis, covering topics such as panel data techniques, instrumental variables, limited dependent variables, regression discontinuity etc. eventually culminating in the application of regression techniques to impact evaluation. The course  will focus on (1) learning the tools of regression required for quantitative impact evaluation using STATA (2) learning the theory on  which quantitative impact evaluation is based (3) applying the skills learnt to actually design and implement impact evaluations. The course places more emphasis on the nuts and bolts of actual program evaluation using STATA and the choice of techniques based on available data, and less on the philosophical or broader theoretical aspects. It will rely strongly on publicly available materials prepared by the World Bank with the aim to familiarize students with the actual design, conduct and quantitative evaluation of real world programs.


MIDP Mini-Seminar Descriptions (Fall 2019)


PUBPOL 789.01                               

Learning and Capacity Development |  Lisa Moreau

Over the last 40 years our understanding of the what, the why, and the how of capacity development has continued to evolve. While there remain challenges in gaining agreement on which practices are most effective we have a great number of successes, failures, and lessons learned from which to pull. What we do know is that those efforts which are most enduring include a multi-pronged approach working at the various levels; individual, organizational, and environmental. During this mini seminar we’ll look at:

  • the various levels or dimensions of capacity development; individual, organizational, and environmental;
  • the role of training, learning, performance, and advocacy in developing capacity at the various levels;
  • frameworks, assessments, and strategies for developing individual and organizational capacity; and
  • the role of systems thinking and practice in capacity development.


PUBPOL 789.02                 

Economic Appraisal of Transportation Projects |   Mehmet Uzunkaya

The objective of this seminar is to emphasize the key role of transportation infrastructure and to provide a firm foundation for the economic appraisal of transportation projects towards selecting viable projects that would contribute to economic growth and development. Given limited resources and the conditions of international competition for development, undertaking viable transportation projects that would yield net socio-economic benefits is essential. Economic appraisal requires measuring and comparing the costs and benefits of a project from the viewpoint of the country as a whole. As observed market prices do not reflect true resource costs and benefits to the society due to a variety of reasons that are particularly applicable in a developing country context, the measurement needs to be done based on a shadow pricing perspective. The seminar provides the necessary economic foundation for converting market prices into shadow prices and presents an integrated appraisal methodology to conduct a sound economic appraisal. The integrated approach includes financial appraisal, economic appraisal, risk analysis, risk management and stakeholder impacts and reconciliation. The seminar also covers the fundamental principles that will be necessary in conducting the analyses, such as the concepts of risk, discounting, cost of capital and alternative criteria for investment decision. The methodology presented in the seminar will be applied on a hypothetical transportation project using a spreadsheet program and risk analysis software.


PUBPOL 789.03                 

Promoting Accountability of International Agencies for Better Development |  Catherine Admay

If a community is concerned about the potential harmful effects of a development project sponsored by an international financial institution, what steps can it take?   A relatively little- known and innovative institutional governance review process, used increasingly frequently, is making it possible for ordinary people to raise questions about whether international development agencies (eg the World Bank, InterAmerican Development Bank, IFC, Global Environmental Facility) are adhering to the stated goals and policies of those agencies.  This mini-seminar will simulate and examine two different real-world cases: the first centers on Sanctions Procedures created to deter procurement-related fraud and corruption; the second centers on Inspection Panel dynamics for national governments, communities, local NGOs and international financial institutions. We will explore how a community and civil society can initiate mechanisms that voice serious concerns about development projects funded by international development agencies.  And we will ascertain accountability for these initiatives and analyze their effectiveness.  What future do these mechanisms have? How might they be improved? Frequently including guest practitioners who work in international financial institutions, this mini seminar will provide tools for public servants and development practitioners who partner with these agencies, civil society, and communities to promote better governance through better accountability. Legal background is not required.


PUBPOL 789.04                               

Indigenous Peoples and Development |   Rosemary Fernholz

This seminar focuses on indigenous peoples, their opportunities and challenges, and strategies for inclusive development.  ‘Indigenous peoples’ is a collective term for the diversity of peoples who identify as members of nations or communities with distinct historical and ancestral ties to land and culture. These can include the Cherokee or Sioux in the US, the Ik in Uganda, the Maori in New Zealand, or the Mapuche in Chile. We will examine their claims to ‘territory’ including that of natural resources (for example, addressing conflicts over land and minerals), their political structures and negotiating power, and their socio-cultural and economic condition and prospects. Our focus will be on strategies to support inclusive development where these communities of people have the capacity to participate meaningfully in development. 


PUBPOL 789.05          

Leveraging Information and Communications Technology (ITC) for Development Motivations, Successes and Challenges  | Jean Pierre Auffret

The rapid adoption of mobiles and cloud computing is reenergizing efforts to integrate ICT as part of the overall international development agenda.   ICT is considered as an enabler in strategies to meet many of the Millennium Development goals and as a key component of national development in healthcare, education, rural and urban development, poverty reduction and financial services. The mini-seminar reviews ICT for Development motivations; role in the efforts of major development organizations; case studies from multiple countries and sectors; and factors leading to successes and failures.  The mini-seminar concludes with discussion of ICT for Development opportunities and challenges and best practices in policy, financing and human capacity development to foster scalable and sustainable ICT for Development efforts.