University of Fort Hare UFH Department of Development Studies
UFH Department of Development Studies – see details below:
WHAT IS DEVELOPMENT STUDIES?
All societies undergo change, at times this happens rapidly, but sometimes it happens so gradually that we hardly notice. South Africa itself is a country that has undergone considerable changes, and quite rapidly so. How do we determine whether such changes are for the better? At a very basic level, when change means that less people are poor, or that more people are educated, or that women can make more decisions about whether they want to have children or not, then change is developmental – it leads to freedom.
We know that positive change – or development – does not often happen spontaneously. In development studies we want to understand the policies, actions and interventions that bring about the kinds of social change that lead to higher levels of well-being amongst people – especially in parts of the world that lack the resources and institutions that can provide them with a decent lives.
We also know that a lack of resources is often the result of history – some countries were colonised and, in spite of many being politically independent now, they are still economically dependent on their former colonisers. This is often because they, for example, export raw materials and agricultural crops and import manufactured goods. Nevertheless, some countries have succeeded in breaking out of economic dependency and have been able to chart more sustainable developmental paths – understanding this process and learning from it is part of what development studies is all about.
Why study Development Studies?
Development Studies as a field of study first emerged at the time when former colonies became independent. In order to understand a successful transition from colony to self-sufficient country, those interested in the process had to consult numerous existing disciplines, such as economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, geography, as well as the health sciences. Hence, we call Development Studies a transdisciplinary field of study – it contains elements of all these disciplines and more. That is why people who study Development Studies often do so at the postgraduate level, when they already have a grounding in one or more of these related disciplines.
The world has changed since the early stages of decolonisation, so Development Studies also makes provision for new themes and concepts that are emerging and which reflect the processes of change that are taking place in the contemporary era. These processes happen in cities, towns and villages (locally), in countries themselves (nationally), in regions of the world, such as southern Africa (regionally), as well as for the world as a whole (globally).
The challenge for Development Studies is to understand how social, political, economic, and ecological change impact on our ability to reduce levels of poverty and inequality and to provide people with dignity and the ability to make informed choices over their lives. The discipline exposes academics and students to knowledge, theories, ideas, practices and principles that shape society, technology, culture and the environment and makes them capable to use concept and theory to enter into a conversation with communities, citizens, politicians, decisions makers and movements.
Development Studies is based on research and the ability to confront the world out there with solid evidence. Whenever we claim something, we must be able to back it up with research findings. But in doing so, we use a human-centred slant in our conceptual thinking, our research, and our community engagement.
What can I do with a degree in Development Studies?
There are a range of career opportunities for Development Studies graduates, specifically in international organisations such as the United Nations or the World Health Organisation; government departments that have responsibility for development (from the Department of Social Development to the Treasury, from national department to provincial and local governments; Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), trade unions or social movements; media companies; the corporate social responsibility and investment arms of private sector companies; and development and research consultancies.
Job titles include: Research officers, development planners, social impact assessors, rural extension officers, development consultants, development officers, company social responsibility officers, diplomats and foreign mission officials, policy makers, educationists, trade union officials, human rights activists.