Global Development Studies


Global Development Studies (formerly known as Development Studies) examines development, poverty, inequality as well as social, political, environmental and cultural changes from a multidisciplinary perspective. At the University of Helsinki, Global Development Studies focuses on topics such as the theory of development, global extractivisms and transformative alternatives, decolonising struggles, political ecology of environment and development, development policy and interventions, justice, and the relationship between development and culture, gender and other intersecting inequalities, space and the environment as well as global political economy. It seeks to explain and understand complex social transformations first and foremost – although not solely – in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as in the Global South – North relations with the purpose of finding creative opportunities and alternatives for the future.  

What is Global Development Studies?

The discipline of Global Development Studies examines development, inequality and justice especially in the global South. We explore social, political, environmental and cultural changes and continuities from a multidisciplinary perspective. Global Development Studies  diverse South-North relations in the globalising world. In Finland, Global Development Studies exists as a separate discipline only at the University of Helsinki, where it is a highly popular, well-established social science discipline.

Read more in our statement about the discipline on our blog site. [To be updated in 2021] .

Multidisciplinary research

Global Development Studies scholars combine different theoretical, methodological, and analytical lenses. We interpret cultural, political, economic, environmental, and social change, with a view to understanding and explaining complex processes of global transformations. These are analysed from the perspectives of historical as well as contemporary contexts first and foremost – although not solely – in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The areas that Global Development Studies primarily studies were connected to the world economy through colonialism and to the global system as possessions of European colonial powers. The study of the global South entails historical and contemporary global connections (capitalism, colonialism, aid, trade, etc.), and the domination, hierarchies and inequalities attached to them. Global Development Studies is interested in the effects of globalisation, environmental change, and development policy on the opportunities of people in the global South to make choices about their lives.   

Global Development Studies is a dynamic, pluralist, and popular multidisciplinary and internationally oriented discipline at the University of Helsinki. Its current focus areas include the following:  

  • Globalisation of development  
  • State formation, development interventions, and social resistance  
  • Political ecology of resource politics and governance  
  • Justice, Disasters and global climate emergency  
  • Global extractivisms and transformative alternatives  
  • Urban inequalities in the global South  
  • Feminist theorizing and decolonizing knowledges  
  • Peace, conflicts, and sustainable development   
  • Rising powers and South-South relations  

Head of discipline: University Lecturer Marjaana Jauhola