Vai al contenuto principale
Coronavirus: aggiornamenti per la comunità universitaria / Coronavirus: updates for UniTo Community

International cooperation for development: practices and project design


International cooperation for development: practices and project design


Anno accademico 2021/2022

Codice attività didattica
Corso di studio
[001501-105] SCIENZE AGRARIE - curr. Cooperazione internazionale
1° anno
Secondo semestre
C - Affine o integrativo
SSD attività didattica
M-GGR/02 - geografia economico-politica

Sommario insegnamento


Obiettivi formativi


This course contributes to the realization of the study curriculum by introducing to histories, theories and practices of development and international cooperation, and preparing for possible research actions. Development studies tackle complex issues and cannot be confined either within a single discipline, or within a specific approach, as it refers to a multicultural world with entangled stories and histories; however, we will adopt a geographical entry point. As a value-based academic field including instrumental knowledge for practice, ethical reflexivity will be included. The course will interact with scholarly debates from human geography, but also political sciences, social and cultural studies, political ecology and indigenous studies, with participatory approaches and civil society empowerment as ultimate emancipatory goals. Finally, the course will provide students with tools to understand rationalities and structures of development projects, and skills for participatory project design and locally based evaluation.

The course aims to enhance students’ ability to apply key concepts and approaches autonomously and to encourage the acquisition of transversal skills that will enable them to activate such knowledge and skills in contexts and for different purposes.


Risultati dell'apprendimento attesi


At the end of the course the student will be able to:

  1. understand the international debates on development and international cooperation, particularly, but not only, in the Global South (critical theoretical knowledge skills);
  2. develop critical thinking on theories, policies and practices that are reflected in cooperation programs, recognizing political ontologies and epistemic diversities brought by different subjectivities (critical theoretical knowledge skills);
  3. acquire familiarity with scientific journals and published researches in this field (critical knowledge skills);
  4. recognize different actors in cooperation, their priorities and discourses across the recent history and in current times, especially through the United Nations Agenda 2030 (knowledge and understanding skills);
  5. grow interest in doing research on inequalities, rights and more specific thematic issues affecting local and social realities (knowledge and applied skills);
  6. familiarize with programs of aid and funding mechanisms worldwide (e.g. from the EU, the UN and the World Bank) (technical knowledge and applied skills);
  7. experience participatory research methods and project design for either research or development action, interacting with diverse institutions and social groups (capacity to use methodological strategies and practical tools); and
  8. practice written and oral communication skills, in particular: active reading and synthesis skills, critical thinking, problem solving, knowledge and writing skills, teamwork ability, design) (communicative and diverse skills).



The course will be divided into 5 parts:

1) Fundamentals: ontologies of development and contemporary framework of international assistance. Critical definitions of development- modernity, cooperation-coloniality; Ontology, epistemology, paradigms for research; Action research and decoloniality; Journals and publishers in geography and development studies; Overview of development theories from the postwar to nowadays: positivist orthodoxy; Overview 2: Globalization, SDGs and monitoring issues; Overview 3: Dependency and world system theories; Overview 4: Postcoloniality and postdevelopment; Overview 5: Alternatives: sumak kawsay/buen vivir, saraj, ubuntu, agaciro, feminism, Laudato si, community economies, degrowth

2) International cooperation: geographies and histories: Spaces, bordering and scale politics Non-Western territorialities; UN decades of development; European aid: history, institutions, policies and priorities; Globalizations: corporate aid and financialization of development; Religious aid: history and contemporaneity; Celebrity diplomacy in humanitarian interventions; Solidarity networks and global movements; Methods for partnership: countermapping, art-creative, walking methods and other techniques.

3) Critical development-related themes: Anthropocene, global risks, sustainability science; Political ecology, Climate change and development; Indigenous conservation of territories of life; Working with migrants, ethnic minorities and superdiverse groups; Gender and intersectionality; Education: global education and the risks of scientific hegemony and epistemicide, versus deep interculturality; Sustainable tourisms; WASH: water, sanitation and hygiene; Post-conflict and post-disaster assistance; Democratization and elections

4) AID and cooperation theories: What is development cooperation? Evolution of doctrines of development cooperation. Rationalities and criticism about current development cooperation

AID architecture: Actors, scales, channels, typology of development cooperation: States, IO, NGOs, Philantropy, Decentralized cooperation; Data, statistics, source for and on development cooperation; Flows of development cooperation; Traditional donors (Oecd DAC); Emerging donors; North-South, Triangular, South-South

AID management: Organizational aspects of international development assistance (main donors organization, laws and rules, focus on Italy, and other European donors); Choosing between forms, modalities, and channels of aid delivery; Monitoring and impact evaluation of aid programs and projects; PCM tools (Project cycle, Problem and objective tree, LogFrame, Gant…); Impact analysis; Theory of change; Participatory approaches.

5)  Project design and monitoring (with the support of an external expert); Applying the tools and logics of PCM approach, choosing a theme, country and territory, actor, partner and donor .


Modalità di insegnamento


The course will be only in English. There will a visiting professor, coming from a foreign University and specialized on development and international cooperation topics.

It will be carried out mainly through live streaming lectures (if it is not possible to carry them out in the presence) which will be videotaped through the webex platform and made available, together with the slides and other teaching material, on the page dedicated to the course in the Moodle platform. The latter will be organized to allow integrated learning and constant interaction with the teachers.

If it is not possible to carry out all the face-to-face lessons, periodic face-to-face meetings will be organized, approximately 1 per week, with small groups of students.

Lectures, seminars and presentations by development professionals, visiting professors and external researchers, group exercises for attending students. 

The lectures will partially deviate compared to the content of textbooks. Any additional or substitute material will be provided by the lecturers during the course.


Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento


The course will be divided into 5 parts, as presented in the program section, with 3 phases of assessments.

1) Part 1, 2, Multiple choice quiz (14 questions, 1 point per each) + 2 open-end question with short essay (16 points) (weight 1/3 of the final grade; the test will be at 1/3 of the course)

2) Part 3, 4 Multiple choice quiz (14 questions, 1 point per each) + 2 open-end question with short essay (16 points) (weight 1/3 of the final grade; the test will be at 2/3 of the course).

3) Part 5 Written report by group work and discussion in oral exam (weight 1/3 of the final grade; report delivery one week before the exam's sessions).

Further instructions will be available in the syllabus on Moodle platform, where the written exams will take place.


Attività di supporto


Exercises are planned. Guest lecturers will also be invited. There will a visiting professor and an external facilitator for exercitations.

Testi consigliati e bibliografia



1) Lecture notes by the teachers (available as "teaching materials" on the Moodle page of the course).

2) Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria and Alberto Acosta (2019): Pluriverse: A Postdevelopment dictionary, Columbia University Press.

3) Carmody P. (2019): Development theory and practice in a changing world. Routledge.

4) International development cooperation. Set of lectures (Bartenev, Glazunova, eds., World Bank, 2013) (available online and on Moodle).

5) HDR 2019 Beyond income, beyond average, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st century (open access at this link) until p. 298. Ability to read the tables of the indices (no need to know the content of the tables, but familiarization with the meaning of the indices is required).

6) Documents about development projects and program management (available on Moodle).



The methods of carrying out the teaching activity may vary according to the limitations imposed by the current health crisis. In any case, the remote mode is ensured throughout the academic year.

For thesis proposals, please check the homepage of the course.

Attendance is not compulsory, but strongly recommended, as there will be activity in class, reading of articles from international literature, writing of reports and projects.

Ultimo aggiornamento: 24/09/2021 11:48