2018 Introduction to Global Development

Font size  SML

Register update notification mail Add to favorite lecture list
Academic unit or major
Undergraduate major in Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering
Brian Woodall  Wendy Newstetter  Adjo A.Amekudzi-Kennedy  Vince Pedicino  Abe Naoya 
Class Format
Media-enhanced courses
Day/Period(Room No.)
Intensive ()  
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Language used
Access Index

Course description and aims

This course – taught as part of the Japan Summer Program in Sustainable Development surveys the broad domain of global development by focusing on issues targeted in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In taking this approach, we embrace the view that unsustainable development sows the seeds of its own eventual demise. The central pedagogy of this course is problem-based learning supplemented by field trips and guest lectures. In this course you will discover what is it like to work on and solve a highly complex problem whose solution requires teamwork that combines engineering analysis with social scientific understanding and cultural/contextual awareness. Your work will be conducted in multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural teams under the guidance of a facilitator who will guide the problem solving process without giving you answers. You and your teammates will be tasked with deconstructing a complex real-world sustainability problem into manageable elements from which objective, data-driven solutions that recognize broader societal needs and ethical concerns can be generated.

Student learning outcomes

• Students will have the ability to objectively and systematically employ different types of data to evaluate the sustainability of an entity – such as a community, municipality, or nation-state – and to propose means of achieving sustainable development.
• Students will demonstrate an understanding of how, why, and with what consequences the social, political, and economic forces that influence sustainable development develop, persist, and change.
• Students will become more aware of the diversity of the world’s cultural, ethical, and institutional systems and the shaping effects of these systems on policy and behavior.
• Students will be able to work in multidisciplinary, multicultural groups in a way that demonstrates respect for their colleagues and 
efficiency in working collaboratively towards projects and goals.
• Students will be able to express their arguments clearly and effectively both in written reports and class 


Global development, sustainable development, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, developed countries, developing countries, Global North, Global South, state actors, private-sector, multinational corporations, civil society, non-governmental organizations, official development assistance, foreign aid

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

While the bulk of your time will be spent working in teams, some sessions will be set aside for a classroom lectures. The aim of these lectures is to create a common conceptual framework through surveying the key concepts of global development, highlighting the stakeholders and their respective roles (e.g., governments, multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, international bodies, etc.), and equipping you with the analytical tools of the Sustainable Development Footprint Approach and the Comparative Method. You will use the skills you acquire to propose solutions to the problems of sustainable development by evaluating current challenges faced by Ogaki City, a community in the Japanese countryside. In this exercise, teamwork is essential because – as you will discover – solving complex sustainability problems in a short amount of time requires many minds and many hands. To be successful in this course, therefore, you must become a self-directed learner, ready and able to extend your knowledge through systematic inquiry. You will be spending time out of class seeking the most reliable, up-to-date and relevant information needed to solve the problem. The problem you and your team will be tasked with solving is designed to help you deepen and broaden your conceptual base in engineering and social scientific analysis. To succeed in all this, you must hone your teaming, communication, and interpersonal skills. In sum, you will need to become and disciplinary and cultural boundary spanner.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 [Week 1] 5/29 Orientation to problem-based learning (facilitators: Woodall & Newstetter; 14:00-15:00: Tokyo Tech Orientation conducted by Ms. Fujibayashi) Common reading: Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (New York: Anchor Books, 1999), pp. 3-34 (uploaded to T-Square) 5/31 Comparative method & sustainable development (facilitators: Woodall & Newstetter) Common reading:  Adjo Amekudzi, Meleckidzedeck Khayesi, and C. Jotin Khisty, “Sustainable development footprint: a framework for assessing sustainable development risks and opportunities in time and space,” International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 18, Nos. 1/2, 2015, pp. 9-40 (uploaded to T-Square) • Japan's Pollution Experience: Island of Waste Part 1 of 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5MQxRnjO-o • Japan's Pollution Experience: Island of Waste Part 2 of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpg2NI95lWA&t=3s • Japan's Pollution Experience: Island of Waste Part 3 of 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOGKOBXBVy8 • Japan's Pollution Experience: Island of Waste Part 4 of 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogui8hbJ8gk [Week 2] 6/5 Travel: Hiroshima (urban resilience) – field trips to Peace Park and Miyajima 6/6 Travel: Teshima: "Garbage Island" (industrial waste and solid waste management) – field trip to Teshima Waste Treatment Project 6/7 Travel: Kyoto (culture & sustainability) Common reading: Tokyo Tech students’ summaries of Ogaki City’s administrative plan (uploaded to T-Square) 6/8 Travel: Kyoto (culture & sustainability) 6/9 Travel: Ogaki (nonmetropolitan sustainability) – visit to Ogaki Kita High School 6/10 Travel: Ogaki (nonmetropolitan sustainability) – tour of Ogaki City led by Ogaki Kita High School students [Week 3] 6/14 Theories of global development and the stakeholders (facilitators: Woodall & Newstetter); 15:30-17:30 – Guest speaker: Mr. Shohei Hara (Japan International Cooperation Agency) – Topic: Global Trend of International Aid Common reading: W.W. Rostow, “The Stages of Economic Growth,” The Economic History Review, Vol. 12, No. 1 (1959), pp. 1-16; Elinor Ostrom, “A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems,” Science, Vol. 325 (24 July 2009), pp. 419-422. Inquiry/work update due 6/15 Group meetings (facilitators: Woodall & Newstetter); 15:30-17:30 – Guest speaker: Mr. Ken Kubokura (Japan International Cooperation Agency) – Topic: Japan’s Approach to International Aid [Week 4] 6/20 Historical Development of Civil Infrastructure (facilitators: Amekudzi-Kennedy & Woodall) Common reading: TBD Mid term facilitator meeting (optional: contact facilitator if you wish to meet) 6/21 Interim policy brief 6/22 Multiple Criteria Thinking/Decision Making (facilitators: Amekudzi-Kennedy & Woodall) Common reading: TBD [Week 5] 6/26 13:00-15:00 - Group meeting with self/peer evaluation (facilitators: Woodall & Pedicino) Inquiry/work update due 6/27 15:30-17:30 - Group meeting (facilitators: Woodall & Pedicino) 6/28 13:00-15:00 - Group meeting (facilitators: Woodall & Pedicino) 6/29 Group presentations and written reports PPT slides due Final Written report due Self/peer evaluation due Please see the relevant information in the course schedule.


There are no required textbooks for this course, although you expected to purchase a field journal. Common readings – i.e., required readings for the entire class – are available either through the Georgia Tech Library’s e-journals portal or will be uploaded to T-Square or GoogleDrive. However, be aware that the bulk of the reading you do for this course will be determined in discussions within your PBL group. If you have questions or wish to pursue a particular topic in more depth, you are encouraged to consult with one of the course facilitators.

Reference books, course materials, etc.


Assessment criteria and methods

Grade weighting
• Inquiry update 5%
• Interim policy brief (group work) 15%
• Written report (group work) 40%
• PowerPoint presentation (group work) 30%
• Self / Peer Evaluation 10%

Related courses

  • TSE.C301 : Introduction to International Development
  • TSE.C311 : Sustainable City, Consumption and Production
  • TSE.C315 : Energy, Environment, and Policy
  • TSE.C316 : Global Development Capstone

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)



The following webpages are available for this course.



Page Top