Online Course: Key Themes in International Development

Following the success of last year’s course, we are again bringing pupils from the UK and across Africa together, to together discuss issues relating to international development and social justice, with a focus on the inclusion of the voice of the African youth.

Starting on Monday (5th November) pupils from Sevenoaks School, Brighton College, Roedean School, African Science Academy, Marlborough College,  Repton School and many others across the Reading Spots network, will take an inter-disciplinary 10-week course based around key themes in social justice, branching across geography, politics, economics, ethics and philosophy.

It will provide useful university preparation for anyone intending to apply for any of these subjects, but is open to pupils of any age who are simply keen to learn more about development through conversations with others. If you or your school would like to join in, simply get in touch!

Key details

  1. Anyone can join the course for free! Just email to be placed on the weekly mailing list and to register to receive a certificate on completion.
  2. To pass the course you will need to post every week on the discussion board, and also comment on the posts given by others. Of course, you can just opt to read the posts each week, too!
  3. Awards of distinction will be given to those who consistently offer the most thoughtful contributions.
  4. There will also be the opportunity midway through the course to write blog posts, and the course will culminate in an essay competition –the best entries of which will be published on this Reading Spots blog.
  5. We will also provide a structure for teachers/pupils to run this as a weekly seminar group, enabling pupils to discuss key ideas in groups and post reflections together. Email if you would like to receive guidance on holding the seminars each week.

In short, taking the course involves reading a short blog post each week with accompanying resources and contributing to a discussion board. The course will often reference examples from the African context, but aims to enable pupils to learn about key issues, reflect critically upon them, and consider ways of acting to make a positive change.We hope that through this course, we can bring together a network of pupils informed in key issues related to international development, and invested in the idea of being an active global citizen.

If you have any suggestions for articles, books, or videos related to the course, or any ideas for how we could improve what we are doing, please do not hesitate to get in touch. The key topics for the 10 week course will include:

  • The role of perspective
  • Analysing the concept of poverty
  • The history of ‘development’
  • The postcolonial approach
  • Theories of development
  • Charitable ethics and aid
  • Literacy and development
  • Environment and development
  • Gender and development
  • Acting for social justice

Last Year’s Course:

To give an example of a typical weekly post, here are two samples from last year (the course will follow a similar structure but is being rewritten/improved based on feedback):

Pupils’ Reflections from 2017:

‘Lots of things at school make me think.  But this course has really made me think about what I’m thinking.  Mostly I have learnt not to look at Africa through the lens of someone who has grown up in England, but to take the time to understand it from the perspective of those that live there. I won’t say it’s been easy.  It’s been hard to reconcile the fact that good intentions are often misguided and can lead to stereotypes of poverty in developing countries being made worse.  So it’s a bit like learning to walk again.  What you previously left to your subconscious, now needs a concentration of effort.  It’s also been interesting particularly hearing the views of the girls from the ASA and getting the chance to work with them in Ghana.  By creating our own development plans for world issues that we really care about, it taught me that collectively we can make a difference and even the small things, if genuinely thought through, will have an impact.’

‘The course has really helped me to consider some of the harmful stereotypes that are so prevalent in the UK. It has led to lots of self-reflection and I certainly hope that it will help me to always consider different perspectives on development and poverty. I had not really thought about all the colonial roots of development and the continued exploitation of some countries by large corporations, I definitely feel that my eyes have been opened to an injustice I hadn’t perceived before. Before the course I found it harder to imagine what the people we will meet when we visit Ghana will be like – we often hear about children in African countries but rarely do we hear about the normal teenagers.’


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