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. For a full list of courses, visit DukeHub. 

MIDP Seminars: Spring

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.

What is governance and development governance? One understanding of governance is that it encompasses the institutions and “rules of the game” that shape the economic and political life of societies. Formal law and formal legal arrangements, that is the “law on the books,” is only one part of these “rules of the game.”  Public servants, development and private sector workers necessarily operate in environments where “rules”–those on the books and those that actually are followed–govern what is possible to do. This class sets out to de-mystify the way legal processes and legal authorities work (and don’t work) to advance development, and to help public policy students and others engage effectively on the strength of this knowledge. 

Using development and governance-centered case scenarios, we track the major bodies of law and their practical application. The course will be co-taught by Justice Dikgang Moseneke, “Justice in Residence” Rubenstein Fellow Spring 2020, deputy Chief Justice South African constitutional court (ret.).

This course is designed for presenters at many different levels. It covers organizing content, sharpening graphics and better presentation of the presenter (and not just the slides). The class meets once a week for four weeks beginning later in the semester. This class is credit/no credit and does not count towards the degree.

English is spoken by many people around the word. The goal of this class, therefore, is not accent reduction but intelligibility, i.e., learning the skills that will help your audience better understand your words, organization and most important ideas. Topics include sound stress, word stress, thought groups and emphasis. The class meets once a week for four weeks beginning in January. This class is credit/no credit and does not count towards the degree.

Innovative approaches are increasingly seen as key to solving difficult, complex or new challenges in this century, whether the challenges are local survival in the face of persistent droughts or boosting productivity to meet global competition. It is policy entrepreneurship that is needed to craft the policy innovations or the frameworks that encourage innovation and private sector entrepreneurship. This course will focus on the analytical tools and skills needed by policy makers and analysts to build and sustain an enabling policy environment for innovations and entrepreneurship to occur at global, country and local levels.

A significant proportion of international development assistance is offered in the form of complex projects that are characterized in part by their uniqueness and by the need for predetermined results to be delivered over a finite period within severe constraints. The management of such projects is challenging and quite different from the management of repetitive day-to-day operations. In addition, the environment for international development projects presents further challenges for the project manager. To succeed in delivering on expectations, projects 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.

In this seminar we will first take a high-level view of the project life cycle, understanding the value of well-structured project management processes in planning the project, scheduling project activities, creating the right project team and achieving successful implementation within the constraints of scope, time, cost and quality. Taking a closer look, we will explore in some detail three of the most important phases of the project life cycle—project identification, project design and implementation planning—before considering the role of the project manager in building and leading the project team, managing risk and monitoring and controlling implementation towards a successful conclusion.

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 aims to explore the “development-security-violence” nexus.  In the modern-day world, where boundaries are blurred, authorities are fragmented and often powerless against non-state actors. Therefore, when new security threats emerge and metastasize unpredictably, the very existence of such nexus demands a well-informed and carefully-crafted response from policymakers and development practitioners. Thus, to deal with what can be described as a global conflict syndrome – the sum of factors that work in parallel to undermine the stability, prosperity and security of many nation-states and their citizens – will require (a) rigorous analysis of multiple linkages between development patterns and conflict as well as (b) innovative ideas of how to effectively incorporate conflict prevention into the development interventions.

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.

Comparative Tax Policy investigates in detail the design and policy options in the major taxes on consumption and income, comparing these taxes across countries. The impacts of these tax designs on revenues, economic efficiency, administrative and compliance costs and income distributions are considered. The course reviews the principles of taxation, including those used in allocating taxes to the multiple levels of government in the context of decentralization and across states in common markets or federal systems. In the area of consumption taxes, the course focuses in detail on Value-Added Taxes and general goods and service taxes, but turnover and selective sales taxes are also considered. For income taxes, detailed design features covered include the definition of income, capital gains, employment benefits, business expenses, accounting conventions, inflation indexation, tax integration, international tax harmonization, transfer pricing, thin capitalization and tax incentives. Taxation of special sectors such as insurance and pensions are considered along with alternative approaches to direct taxes such as cash flow or consumption taxes. For all taxes, issues of the treatment of small businesses and the informal sectors are featured

The course reviews modern approaches to tax administration for both border and domestic taxes, and compares the approaches taken across industrial, emerging and developing economies.  The course reviews all the major functions of tax administration.  The issues arising from trends in tax administration towards a greater degree of self-assessment in taxes and functional and client-oriented organizations are themes throughout the course.  These have implications for tax assessment, audit and investigation, collections and debt management, objection and appeals mechanisms, and taxpayer education and service in the separate consideration of each of these functions.  The design of risk-weighted random audits is highlighted.  Issues and international agreements affecting valuation in sales taxes, customs and transfer pricing under the income tax provide an important focus.  Computerization and e-governance techniques are growing in importance in all areas of tax administration.  The legal, technical and management issues are covered.  The overall legal and organizational considerations are also core issues, including the use of revenue authorities, and the legal frameworks used to enable different approaches to tax administration and organization.  Finally, the types and experiences of tax reforms are reviewed as well as the issues involved in successfully planning and change management in reforms of tax systems.

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. 

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. 

This course provides a graduate level introduction to the field of policy design and its applications to the realm of international development. It looks at how government policies in developing countries are formulated and implemented and the role of actors, institutions and processes in policymaking. Particular emphasis is on the core instruments available to policymakers in reaching their development goals and how the combination of core instruments (policy portfolios) can be designed to address specific challenges of development. The course is organized around four main parts. The first section of the class explores the conceptual foundations of policy design and evolution of the field. The second part of the course is focused on the specifics of policy context of developing countries including processes of policymaking and policy reform. It examines the composition and nature of the actors involved in the policy formulation and design activities with particular emphasis on policy advisory communities. The third part provides an overview of core policy instruments, their strengths, weaknesses and examples of real-life applications in different development contexts. It also looks into the evolution of policy designing over time and introduces the concept of policy portfolios (mixes). The final quarter deals with applications of policy design principles to some key development sectors

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 one-credit mandatory seminar is intended to facilitate efficient preparation of the master’s project.  It focuses on preliminary preparation up to prospectus defense.  The seminar reviews lessons from past experience, selection of topic, and development of a research plan as well as the key elements of the policy analysis methodology.  Grading is based on participation and the quality of the final prospectus.

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. 

This one-credit seminar is the second of two parts designed to prepare Rotary Peace Fellows towards their future leadership roles in the field of Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution. This seminar will constitute the “wrapping up” by fellows as they prepare to embark on important professional endeavors. The seminar comprises two elements: (i) an exploration by the fellows of their future leadership potential in the field of P&CR through simulation exercises and preparation of an individual leadership paper; and (ii) preparation and delivery of the fellows’ public presentation at the Rotary Conference in early April.

MIDP Mini-Seminars: Spring

Reviews of many development programs cite committed and competent leadership as a key factor in project, program, and country success. Central questions revolve around the relative importance of leadership in successful development initiatives and the leadership characteristics that leave behind a sustainable legacy, i.e., a lasting foundation for others to build upon. Looking at these questions, this mini-course will (a) review several key concepts of leadership from political science and management perspectives; (b) attempt to develop a framework for evaluating effective leadership in the development context; and (c) utilize the framework to examine the profiles and actions of several recent development leaders. The course is primarily a group discussion, with a class presentation and a final paper focusing on a profile and analysis of an actual leader.

Managing organizations to achieve development impact is challenging in any context, but it is particularly difficult in high-risk environments.  High volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity can negatively impact development investments and the people who make them.  This mini-course introduces students to key elements for managing organizations in such contexts, starting with good leadership.  It provides tools for understanding high-risk environments where development practitioners work, including assessing different kinds of risk.  It introduces approaches for setting direction and making adjustments in such environments, including strategic planning and adaptive management.  The course emphasizes the need for building resourceful and resilient teams capable of effectively performing in such environments, and provides insights for doing so.  And it introduces students to the special challenges of operating in environments overtaken by crisis.  Student requirements include participation in class discussion and exercises, and a paper.  

We live in an increasingly complex world, one in which individuals and groups move from one end of the globe to another, and organizations and companies shift and expand from one region to the next. We mix together and drift apart, sometimes peacefully, other times with great pain and distress. This mini-seminar aims to provide students with a basic introduction to negotiation and the tools necessary to bridge the gap between individuals, organizations, religions, and nations who view the world from a specific angle due to their beliefs, norms, activities, institutions, or communication patterns. This mini-seminar will provide students with a selection of tools necessary to meet their interests when in conflict with another individual, organization or government, to redefine the meanings of “winning” and “power,” and to cope with stress, discomfort, and emotions when in conflict. Students will learn new negotiation skills, build upon existing ones, and challenge assumptions regarding conflict.  The mini-seminar includes both theory and experiential learning through role-plays. It 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.

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