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Minor Global Studies and Colonial Critiques: An Alternative to Development

“I was one of the two billion of us who became underdeveloped on January 20, 1949, when President Truman coined the word “underdevelopment” and began the campaign to develop us. Twenty years later, having already suffered the horrors that accompany this enterprise, many of us recognized that its goal—to make us like the developed countries, to adopt the American way of life—was clearly impossible… and very damaging. Since 1976, after the famous ILO report, it seemed sensible to take on the more modest goal of at least satisfying the basic needs of the entire population. Universal agreement was never reached on the definition of these needs and the way to satisfy them, but the idea has been guiding all official development policies, even though our governments maintain the pretense that they are still seeking the original goal.”

Gustavo Esteva 2022

Gustavo Esteva’s quote refers to one of the key critiques to the “Development” agenda, which has long been the focus of not only governments and international organizations, but also many academic programmes across different countries, global south and global north alike. In fact in designing and pursuing development goals, historically, two important factors have been overlooked by higher income countries. First, is the fact that the legacies of colonialism were, more than often, represented in agenda setting, interventions, and measurements in international development. Second, the notion of development, what it is and how it looks like has been constructed based on Western ideas and ideals. As a result, the complexities of development issues are deepening globally, and the burden of Lower and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) in carrying old and new forms of inequalities is disproportionately greater, further entrenching the marginalization and disadvantage of some groups. This minor aims to shed light on understanding how global challenges affect countries of the global south disproportionately and how and, more importantly, why, the gap between the High and Low-Income countries continues to widen.

In order to do that, the minor aims to gain an understanding of development goals, targets, and programmes as they are perceived and reflected upon from the perspective of LMICs. The goal is to unpack and revisit Eurocentric perspectives on development because students who carry the expectation of becoming the future leaders, have ample opportunities to learn the state of art from a eurocentric perspective. However, their understanding of meaning making, impacts, and scale of global issues from the perspective of LMIC are often missing. This is due to the fact that; those perspectives are not systemically incorporated or incorporated enough across different curricula.

During this Minor, you will be introduced to academic decolonization beyond mere assimilation. We will focus on approaching decolonization via conscious and proactive teaching of a diversified and transformed decolonized curriculum and by applying engaging pedagogies such as critical arts-based methods.

Why choose this Minor?

  • Because you want to learn about understanding how colonial legacies and oppressions are reproduced through development agenda,
  • You want to have a deeper understanding about how some countries are rich and some others continue to remain poor,
  • You want to engage in a conversation about development, diversity and tokenism, race and gender, and white privilege while understanding the nuances and sensitivities,
  • You want to engage in international development or policy making.

Aim of the Programme
The minor aims at sharpening your knowledge and skills in understanding perspectives on

decolonising development agendas, development notions and preparing you more for understanding complex global challenges. It also aims to immerse you in a wide range of epistemologies and knowledge systems from non-Eurocentric perspectives in order that they might be more flexible, more creative, and a more collaborative problem solver when it comes to dealing with complex global problems.

Different courses in this minor provide an interdisciplinary perspective that interact and shape the particular subject that is examined. Various elements of decolonisation in content and teaching methods are embedded in this minor, including (but not limited to) the content of the course, examples, and case studies that are examined, teaching approaches, or literature and sources that are used.

After completing this Minor, you will be able to:

  • Better understand the complexities of global issues relating to development by unpacking and analyzing them in relation to diversities in populations, social settings and contextual realities;
  • Critically analyzing the ambitions of development goals and their homogeneity and centrality;

  • Questioning the claims that all countries must develop the same and with standards that are set by capitalist/Western societies;

  • Learning and practicing critical arts-based methodologies in research;

  • Taking steps towards an alternative future and practicing the initial step towards that dream;

  • Practicing teamwork, intercultural interaction and peer collaboration;

  • Practicing critical thinking.

What does the programme look like?
The Minor Global Studies and Colonial Critiques will have a total workload of 15 ECTS.

Please note: All courses are taught in English and are compulsory in order to complete the Minor.

For more information about the courses (e.g. learning outcomes, teaching and examination methods, lecturers etc..) please visit Ocasys.

Course Name




Introduction to Decolonisation Theories 

This course presents the foundation for this minor and introduces theories and

concepts on decolonisation. Students learn about intellectual thoughts and epistemic roots of decolonisation. The course also introduces students to decolonial theories and engages them with critical thinking and reflections on contemporary “development” agenda.

Semester 1b

Critical Wellbeing Studies: Narratives from the South

This course moves on to discuss how the notion of development was created and imposed to the global South, and how local perspectives on wellbeing were dominated by the imposed ideas

of “development”. The course engages students with the conversations around “global agenda” and its relation to local needs, perspectives and realities.

Semester 1b

Decolonising Research Methods: Art and Qualitative Techniques 

This course provides a particular lens on some of the most important societal topics based on the acquired knowledge on decolonisation. The course addresses students’ pressing demands and requests on learning about decolonisation in relation to topics that engage them intellectually and in two important domains: education and migration.

Semester 1b

Enrolments process
You need to register for this minor via Progress (Under the heading ‘Minor’ and then ‘Campus Fryslân). For the academic year 2023-2024 the registration opens on 26 May 2023 and ends 7 July 2023. 

After having registered for the Minor Global Studies and Colonial Critiques, you will be enrolled in the individual courses by the Educational Secretariat.

The courses will take place in term 1B, a more precise schedule will be available soon. You can expect to have classes two days per week, each course will have two lectures (or working groups per week.

The course will be taught in Leeuwarden, you will be expected to join in person for one day, and one day you will be able to choose whether you would like to attend in person or online.

Who to contact
If you want more information about the content of the Minor, you may reach out to Associate Professor Sepideh Yousefzadeh. For more practical matters (e.g. enrolments, scheduling of the courses etc..), feel free to reach out to cf-minor

Last modified:13 April 2023 4.20 p.m.