Below are course descriptions for current MIDP courses. MIDP fellows have the option to take courses from other schools and units across Duke and beyond and are encouraged to meet with their academic advisers to plan their studies. *Fall 2023 MIDP Course List and Descriptions are available, and visit DukeHub for a full list of courses. 

MIDP Seminars

Exactly how governance, economic growth, and poverty reduction are interrelated is a subject of much controversy.  The first part of this course will explore questions such as “What is governance?”  “What does good governance mean?”  “How is it measured?”  “What is the relationship among governance, growth, and poverty reduction?”  “Does good governance necessarily mean democratic governance?”  From there, the course will move on to selected topics central to the good governance agenda, including public sector reform, corruption, and decentralization.  The course will end with a look at global influences on developing country governance, including the contested role of aid and the dilemmas posed by fragile states.  Students will be asked to choose a developing country for which they will develop governance diagnostics and analyses, and a governance action plan by the end of the semester.  Two papers, the country governance action plan, and short oral presentations will be part of the class requirements.

This course covers the theory and provides practical applications of fiscal decentralization, intergovernmental transfers, local resource mobilization and local borrowing. Special attention is paid to the practical aspects of designing and implementing effective fiscal decentralization reforms to improve efficiency and accountability within the public sector.

This course is designed to teach the fundamentals of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) for social programs.  All organizations implementing development programs put in place systems to track program accomplishments.  These M&E systems are driven by different objectives, such as accountability to donors for money spent, or learning about successes and challenges in implementation. The course is aimed at practitioners who wish to develop and/or understand methods for measuring the results of social programs.  This course will teach students how to set up M&E systems that foster data-driven decision making.  In addition to books and articles, we will use cases from donors, non-profits and others to cover technical aspects of M&E, including developing a comprehensive program logic, choosing ‘good’ indicators and targets, and designing an appropriate evaluation. 

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.

This course will review the main literature, methods, conceptual tools and types of policy recommendations associated with Global Value Chain (GVC) analysis. Globalization has transformed how nations, firms, communities and workers compete in the international economy over the past half century. This course will trade the emergence of the GVC framework, which is arguably the most influential approach used to analyze globalization and its consequences for both developing and developed economies.  We will focus on the conceptual foundations of GVC analysis, the twin pillars of “governance” and “upgrading”, and we will review detailed GVC case studies related to Asia, Latin America and Africa, including original studies that have been carried out at the Duke Global Value Chains Center (Duke GVCC), one of the most renowned university-based GVC research centers in the world.  Since the early 2000s and especially after the 2008-09 financial crisis, virtually all of the main international development organizations, including the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, OECD, the U.S. Agency for International Development, UNIDO, UNCTAD, and the World Economic Forum, have used the GVC approach to guide their development agendas. We will evaluate the GVC research they have carried out, and analyze the most fruitful guidelines for development that emerge from this literature.

This course focuses on social development and the role of social policy as an important channel that policy makers at different levels use to address complex and interrelated issues affecting human well-being.  We analyze status, trends, problems and opportunities in social development in the world and in selected countries. The course is designed as a basic graduate level course for students interested in international development, particularly policy making for social development. 

The objective of this class is to introduce the multi-disciplinary field of Peace and Conflict Studies as a foundation for and complement to Peacebuilding for Sustainable Development. The course (1) Introduces the field of Peace and Conflict Studies and the possible sectors in which to apply your study; (2) Emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of peace and conflict studies and analyzes the nature and causes of conflicts within societies and internationally from a variety of perspectives, inquiries, and scales. (3) Provides students with the appropriate analytical frameworks to think critically about questions relating to the origins and dynamics of conflict, as well as the possibility of peace. (4) Provides a series of tools and techniques for students working in conflict settings. 

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.

The course is intended to enhance students’ abilities to explore the complex problems being faced by our world and to design innovative solutions to address those problems. Through readings, classroom discussion, experiential learning, and individual and team assignments, we consider concepts and frameworks for understanding and practicing effective social innovation. Class sessions combine lecturettes and guest speakers with interactive exercises designed to consider issues in areas such as education, healthcare,
children, economic development, and the environment. The course is intended for students interested in developing skills to act as entrepreneurial leaders, innovators, consultants, policy makers, philanthropists, impact investors, and changemakers in a wide variety of career fields.

A development project, or intervention, is often the most visible part of international development. This course focuses on the full cycle from identifying development challenges, prioritizing interventions within national development agendas, securing financing, developing the project, its implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. While the course uses common practices of multilateral institutions as the guide, it does so within the context of sovereignty of countries who are ultimately accountable to their citizens for the use of public funds and success of development interventions. Using specific country examples, the course provides a thorough view into the ‘who, how, and what’ of managing development intervention. Questions, such as who determines what gets funded, how development interventions are designed, what it takes to successfully implement them, and eventually how the outcomes of the interventions are evaluated, are core elements of the course.

Course studies the history, political institutions, and economic development of South East Asia. Topics include the history of the region including the pre-colonial period, forms of colonialism, the impact of World War II, the struggles for independence, nationalism, and communism, and the impact of the Asian Financial Crisis; tools of political economy to place the countries in a broader comparative perspective; and issues of great powers in South East Asia and the growing influence of political Islam in the region.

This course focuses on development finance against a background of limited resources and competing demands on available resources. The seminar adopts a Public Financial Management (PFM) perspective focusing on how governments can secure additional resources and use them to promote efficient and accountable development. The course begins by analyzing the main sources of ‘fiscal space’ that can be used to pay for additional spending—borrowing, domestic revenue, foreign aid and resource revenue and expenditure rationalization. It then focuses on challenges to ensure that the available fiscal space is used for development spending, with a particular focus on resource allocation through the budget process. The seminar also considers financing options for decentralization, private sector involvement, and innovative financing instruments. The course concludes by considering the institutional requirements for effective management of public resources and their implications for PFM reform, and explore how to mobilize the needed development finance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

If a community is concerned about emerging or potential harmful effects of a development project sponsored by an international financial institution, what steps can it take? A relatively little-known and innovative governance accountability process, increasingly used, makes it possible for ordinary people adversely affected by some development projects to raise questions about whether IFI’s (World Bank, InterAmerican Development Bank, IFC, Green Climate Fund et al) are adhering to their stated goals and policies. Over 5 workshop-style sessions, this mini-seminar will contextualize, simulate, and consider improvements related to two distinct real-world accountability mechanisms: the first centers on IFI Sanctions Procedures created to deter procurement-related fraud and corruption; the second centers on IFI Inspection Panels with the dynamics they generate for national governments, communities, local and international civil society organizations, and IFIs. In a hands-on workshop with a guest practitioner we will examine redacted documents submitted as part of a fraud investigation in procurement and learn the inside account of how investigations are conducted and sanctions applied (Sanctions Procedures). Similarly, in a couple case-based simulations, we will explore how communities and civil society have voiced serious concerns about development projects and the ways in which national governments and IFI staff have engaged the complaints (Inspection Panel). Crucially for innovation and people-centered design, we will anticipate the future trajectory of these institutions and the political economy of accountability: How will the (1) rise of alternative financing through China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank; the (2) World Bank’s multi-stakeholder consultation process around “environmental and social safeguards” including—and excluding—human rights legal standards; the (3) US Supreme Court decision lifting absolute immunity for international organizations structurally impact these innovations? 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 IFIs, civil society, and communities to promote better governance through better accountability. Legal background is not required.

In this course we learn the backbone of the 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 to gain an unglorified, concrete and realistic idea of this law as it stands today. A central aim of the course is to help us, as co-learners, know about, and then be equipped to better navigate in our own professional lives, the three leading practitioner camps that have developed to promote conflict resolution and peacebuilding, including (1) conflict resolvers/transformers, (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 international institutions like the International Criminal Court, UN Special Rapporteurs, and the Human Rights Council and their various proceedings? And for national and subnational institutions like citizen-driven Gender Commissions or Truth and Reconciliation processes? 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.

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 course we’ll look at:
• the evolution of capacity development and the terms, events, and international policies that have influenced the conversation;
• various levels or dimensions of capacity development; individual, organizational, and environmental;
• the role of training, learning, and performance in developing capacity at the various levels;
• frameworks, assessments, and strategies for developing individual and organizational capacity;
• the role of systems thinking and practice in capacity development;
• fragile and conflict-affected states and capacity development; and
• gender, equity, and inclusion in capacity development.

This course is especially timely during the time of the pandemic COVID-19.  It focuses on social development and the role of social policy as one important channel that policy makers at different levels use to address complex and interrelated issues affecting human well-being.  We analyze status, trends, problems, and design approaches to address key social challenges in the world and in selected countries. The course covers key issues in three areas: education, health and social protection, as well as policy making for social development. It is a graduate level course for students interested in international development and particularly in policy making for social development. 

MIDP Seminars - Offered in Fall

This course explores the basic economic principles and policy issues in the study of economic development.  Topics will include the effects on development, welfare, inequality and sustainability of policy issues including human capital policies (e.g. health and education), social protection and redistribution, environment, infrastructure, trade, foreign aid and investment, institutions and governance.

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 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.

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.

The objective of this course is to provide future decision makers with the necessary tools of statistical analysis to enable them to eventually conduct effective empirical analysis of policy issues in economic development. The course focuses on providing tools for using data to gain insight into real development problems for professionals whose primary activity is not advanced data analysis. The course has three equally important elements. First, the course provides a non-technical introduction to basic concepts in empirical analysis, culminating in regression modeling with single and multiple variables; the focus is on understanding the concepts without the aid of software. Second, it uses Stata to illustrate, practice, and apply the techniques learned. Third, it enables the participants to read and assess the quality of empirical analyses and results that are used in reports and articles with the aim of providing a foundation for conducting their own empirical analysis of development problems.   


This course taps into the growing evidence that the distinctive way humans think is in story. “Good” stories have a much higher “stick-iness” factor: they are structured so that insights stick in the minds of the audiences that drew those insights. Stories invite numerous sorts of partnerships and processes: readers come to think and live in someone else’s world and develop deeper powers to hear others who might never be heard, or never be heard in that way; storytellers have incentives to consider the needs of those who are following their stories. Using a broad array of storytelling mediums, this course tracks how stories told about poverty or development strategically can add to our ability to understand poverty and to conduct development more effectively. Amongst the narrative frameworks we have considered are memoir, short story, short doc, radio essay, telenovela, community theatre, TED talks, spoken word, songs, nationally-followed talk shows like the one hosted by Aamir Khan in India, extracts from novels, multi-media performance including dance, children’s story and film (Bollywood, Nollywood, Hollywood and independents). The course is intended for MIDP and MPP Fellows and others who are seeking out creative ways to analyze our practice more insightfully and who wish to be exposed to numerous communications and translation strategies that we might put into practice professionally.

MIDP Seminars - Offered in Spring

Evaluation of Public Expenditures is devoted to the appraisal of development projects.  It will begin with the financial analysis of investment expenditures and then proceed to the economic and distributive appraisal of such projects.  The objectives of the courses are to expose students to the theoretical principles and the practical application of project appraisal through real and applied case studies, lectures, group discussions, participant presentations, and computer exercises.

The course takes participants through a flexible appraisal framework suited to handle different types of projects (from commercial enterprises and utilities to infrastructure investments and social programs), and a wide range of issues from environmental to risk management.  This framework is particularly well suited to the assessment of projects implemented by the private sector in competitive markets in different sectors, in regulated sectors, or in partnership with the public sector.  Public sector programs and investments are also well suited for analysis. In these cases, the analysis of project designs from the perspectives of the different stakeholders is crucial to the choice of sustainable and performance-enhancing arrangements.

This course focuses on the difficult choices governments need to make to improve service provision in a wide range of sectors from public utilities and transportation to health and education services.  These choices include the range of contractual and organizational modalities for providing services: from government owned and operated (GOO) corporations or projects to regulated private corporations and some new forms of outsourcing through national and international NGOs.  An important modality in current times is the Public Private Partnership (PPP).  How to design and analyze these partnerships is the core of this course. This course covers the range of contractual arrangements open to governments to construct, maintain and operate infrastructure services and facilities such as hospitals and schools, as well as service provision in varied contexts in the world. Key concerns we address are the identification, analysis, allocation and management of risks and incentives under different contractual arrangements, including the guidelines and criteria that are appropriate to analyze and implement PPPs. We consider different environments and challenges such as legislative, budgetary and regulatory frameworks and institutional arrangements in different countries as well as globally. We analyze the structure and role of the capital markets and financial sectors along with conditions and impacts of government guarantees. We discuss some evolving partnership arrangements to include civil society and networks, their implications and impacts. The course will use relevant experiences in the world with real-life problem sets and case studies. 

A major component of the course will be the application of broad-based cost-benefit analysis techniques to analyze the financial viability, risk, economic attractiveness and social and distributive impacts of PPPs.  In addition, decision making rules and techniques will be used to clarify the tradeoffs. This will be done in the context of sector case studies.


Implementing projects in the often-complex context of international development is a challenging endeavor. Leveraging strong project management skills increases the likelihood of successful implementation of these complex projects. To meet expectations, project managers must begin with an understanding of the context followed by thorough planning with real participation, careful design using a robust framework, and realistic estimations of time and costs. This seminar leverages the framework laid out by PM4NGOs’ Project Management for Development Professionals Guide (PMD Pro Guide) as its foundation, layering in additional content from best practice and industry-relevant literature, guest lecturers, and tried-and-true tools and templates. Students can expect to finish the seminar with an understanding of the project life cycle, the value of well-structured project management processes, a working understanding and ability to manage a project, and the realities and challenges of being a project manager in the context of international development.


MIDP Mini-Seminars

This mini-seminar will provide students with a variety of tools necessary to most effectively engage in interpersonal conflicts by focusing on both internal and external factors and influences. During the 5-week seminar, students will engage with active listening, apology and forgiveness, cross-cultural communication, and multi-party negotiations. The mini-seminar aims to redefine the meanings of “winning” and “power,” and to provide students with tools necessary to cope with stress, discomfort, and emotions when in conflict. It includes both theory and experiential learning through role-plays and is meant for students who plan to work for NGOs, government agencies, international organizations, or in any field that requires skills in conflict management.

Why have people been migrating from one country to another, often despite significant risks involved?  What impacts have such migrations had on labor markets, finances and trade of sending and receiving countries? Are the monies migrants send home more development-friendly than Official Development Assistance or Foreign Direct Investment? How does migration affect innovation? How can we better analyze, and possibly manage, international migration?  If any of these questions intrigued you, this course may be for you.

This seminar will focus on practical negotiating advice for international trade and commercial negotiations. The bulk of the class will look at government to government negotiations. A few classes will be dedicated to commercial negotiations both business to business and business to government. The course will begin with some international bargaining and negotiation theory and quickly move to real world case studies and their practical application to existing negotiations.  The course will examine multilateral trade and economic negotiation tactics and skills, as well as bilateral negotiation tactics and skills.  The course will include lectures, as well as a few mock negotiations. Students should leave the course with theoretical and practical skills to engage in international trade & economic negotiations, procurement negotiations, and business/commercial negotiations.

There is no single strategy or set of policy interventions that will solve global food insecurity. Achieving lasting food security and nutrition, regardless of country or region, is a complex challenge that requires a wide range of interventions and resources including: a level of stability and good governance, access to data and information, arable land and/or engagement in trade, functioning markets, basic infrastructure, ability to access finance, and investments in research and innovation. Especially in a developing country context, one or more of these criteria may be strained or missing in ways that prevent a country from progressing in its efforts to combat hunger, poverty and malnutrition. This course will: explore the influences and pressures shaping food security and related policies; equip students with an understanding of food security concepts, challenges facing governments and their partners; and help students to develop practical skills and tools to aid in decision making and policy setting.

The course will move through three main sections. The first, and shortest, will provide students with some historical context and an understanding of current concepts in food security. The second will explore challenges to achieving food security, looking specifically at the interconnected nature of food security and nutrition, policy trade-offs, the roles of various actors in food security and development, and multilateral processes. The third will take a deeper look at influence and strategic partner engagement, and will guide students through options and alternatives to current food and agriculture policies. This course will focus on chronic hunger issues and longer-term economic development in developing countries, and will not focus on emergency food insecurity, food aid or related humanitarian approaches.

Through case studies, classroom discussion, guest lectures (TBD), and focused skill building, this course will contribute to a fuller understanding of public policy and international development from a practitioner’s point of view. Students will hone practical skills in food security and nutrition policy and analysis, negotiation, influence and strategic engagement, and writing for policymakers.

MIDP Practicums  

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.

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.

Because the public policy career landscape is both broadening and deepening, public policy students can shape and direct their careers in a variety of ways. This course will offer MPP and MIDP students the professional skills needed to navigate their career choices. This course is required of all first–year MPP and MIDP students. The class is divided into sections, the Friday section is tailored to international students and students interested in international development careers, and the other tailored to students with U.S. policy interests. Topics covered include goal-setting; elevator speeches; identifying internship opportunities; drafting resumes, CVs, and cover letters; networking, and informal and formal interviewing. The classes will offer a combination of short lectures and demonstrations, weekly homework assignments, group and individual work and presentations, and guest lectures. Students will have the opportunity to practice their new skills throughout the year.

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