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Advanced study course: ’Rethinking Development – radical alternatives and concrete utopias

global studies / International Development Studies / International Public Administration and Politics / Politics and Administration / Public Administration
master course
Teaching language

You register for activities through stads selvbetjening during the announced registration period, which you can see on the Study administration homepage.

When registering for courses, please be aware of the potential conflicts and overlaps between course and exam time and dates. The planning of course activities at Roskilde University is based on the recommended study programmes, which should not overlap. However, if you choose optional courses and/or study plans that goes beyond the recommended study programmes, an overlap of lectures or exam dates may occur depending on which courses you choose.

In case of too few registrations, the course will be cancelled.

Detailed description of content

In this course, we explore the role of radical alternatives and utopian thinking in a world that is desperate to solve the accumulated problems that it has created for itself. We examine the politics, theory, worldviews and practices related to a wide set of initiatives around the world that seek radical alternatives to the currently dominant processes of globalized development. By organizing economic and social activity around principles such as solidarity and cooperation, such alternatives challenge a modernist ontology of universal solutions in favor of a multiplicity of possible worlds. The struggles for alternative forms of social and economic organisation led by indigenous groups, eco-village networks, landless peasants and other subaltern groups provide a much needed critique, contributing to decolonizing and invigorating debates about how we can organize work, production, consumption and societies more broadly in a manner which respects ecological boundaries while building on principles of solidarity and cooperation.


Assignment 1 – conceptually / theoretically based paper

Identify two different conceptualizations of alternative modes of organizing society (locally or globally). Discuss the two concepts against each other and argue how they challenge existing orders and how they provide alternatives. You are expected to reference at least 5 readings from the course. In the assignment, you need to present your own argument. This could e.g. be

• As juxtaposition of different perspectives/theories

• A discussion of congruence or mismatch between concepts and the way they promote alternative orders

• A discussion of the underlying perspective of one or more of the articles you’re using

Format: max. 12.000 characters, including spaces

Assignment 2 – paper based on a concrete case of an alternative mode of organizing

Assignment 2 has two connected parts, a group work case study and an individual paper

a) Group work case study – case of alternative organizing

• In groups, identify and research a case

• Objective: Apply (some of the) concepts we discuss in the course. This is also a good exercise for research techniques.

• Workshop – short presentations by each group (main findings/ issues/ problems)

b) An individual exam paper.

Use the group case study as a starting point for an individual academic discussion paper. In your discussion, you must reflect on the notion of development in relation to your case and how established ideas of development are challenged or rethought. You are expected to use at least 5 readings from the course.

Format: max. 16.800 characters, including spaces

Expected work effort (ects-declaration)

26 hours lectures. 26 hours student presentations + peer feedback exercises 70 hours for course assignment. Reading assigned texts = approximately 78 hours (on average 6 hours preparation per week). 70 hours Preparation of exam + Exam. Total 270 hours

Course material and reading list

Selected relevant readings include:

Kothari et al (2019) “Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary” Edited by Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, and Alberto Acosta. Tulika Books

Dinerstein, A. (2015). The Politics of autonomy in Latin America: The art of organising hope. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 81

Critique of Erik Olin Wright, Envisioning Real Utopias (Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2010)

J. K. Gibson-Graham, A Post-Capitalist Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006)

Eduardo Gudynas, “Buen Vivir: Today’s tomorrow,” Development, 2011, 54(4), (441–447)

Conway, J. and J. Singh. (2011) ‘Radical Democracy in Global Perspective: Notes from the Pluriverse’, Third World Quarterly, 32(4), pp. 689–706.

Dinerstein, A.C. (2017) Social Sciences for An Other Politics. Women Theorising without Parachutes, Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Bloch, E. (1959/1986) The Principle of Hope, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press: 307.

Evaluation- and feedback forms

Students will evaluate the course during a mid-term and a final evaluation. This is to allow the students’ input into the future design and delivery of the course. The students will receive and provide feedback multiple times during group work and presentations. In addition, feedback is given to each student individually at the examination.

Administration of exams
ISE Studieadministration (ise-studieadministration@ruc.dk)
The responsible course lecturer
Lone Riisgaard (loner@ruc.dk)
Learning outcomes and assessment criteria
  • Specialised knowledge of a particular subject within International Development Studies

  • Advanced knowledge and understanding of academic and methodological debates related to the subject

  • Skills in choosing relevant theoriesin order investigate a problem area

  • Skills in selecting and critically applying relevant theories and methods

  • Skills in communicating and discussing theories and empirical results

  • Competency in assuming responsibility for and reflecting on own learning and that of fellow students by actively participating in group work, presentations and discussions

  • Competency in independently selecting and utilising academicliterature relevant to a specific research question

Overall content

The objective of the advanced study course is to provide students with advanced knowledge and understanding within a specific research area. At least two advanced study courses will be offered per semester:
Themes may include:

  • Modern theories about the state in the Global South
  • Governance and economic transition in a globalised world
  • Migration and citizenship
  • Policies and practices in global health
  • Social, political and economic aspects of climate change
Prerequisites for participation
Currently no data from curriculum.
Prerequisites for participation in the exam
Currently no data from curriculum.
Teaching and working methods

The course is based on lectures, but will also include other teaching and working methods such as group work, exercises, student presentations, peer feedback and field trips or guest lectures as well as other practical activities. During the course, a written assignment will be prepared which consists of a response to a question that has been given at the start of the course.

Type of activity

Elective course

Form of examination
Individual written portfolio.

The portfolio consists of 2 written products, that wholly or partially are developed during the course. For example, products can be exercise responses, speech papers for presentations, written feedback, reflection, written assignments. The preparation of the products may be subject to time limits.

The character limit: maximum 28,800 characters, including spaces.
The character limits include the cover, table of contents, bibliography, figures and other illustrations, but exclude any appendices.

The portfolio's specific products and the (if relevant) recommended size (character limit) for the individual products are made public on study.ruc.dk before the course begins.

The entire portfolio must be handed in at the same time.
The submission deadline will be public on study.ruc.dk before the course begins.

The assessment is individual and based on the entire portfolio.

Assessment: 7-point grading scale.
Form of Re-examination
Samme som ordinær eksamen
Exam code(s)
Exam code(s) : U41466
Last changed 04/02/2021

lecture list:

Show lessons for Subclass: 1 Find calendar (1) PDF for print (1)

Tuesday 09-02-2021 12:15 - 09-02-2021 14:00 in week 06
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 16-02-2021 12:15 - 16-02-2021 14:00 in week 07
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 23-02-2021 12:15 - 23-02-2021 14:00 in week 08
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 02-03-2021 12:15 - 02-03-2021 14:00 in week 09
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 09-03-2021 12:15 - 09-03-2021 14:00 in week 10
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 16-03-2021 12:15 - 16-03-2021 14:00 in week 11
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 23-03-2021 12:15 - 23-03-2021 14:00 in week 12
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 06-04-2021 12:15 - 06-04-2021 14:00 in week 14
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Wednesday 14-04-2021 12:15 - 14-04-2021 14:00 in week 15
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 20-04-2021 12:15 - 20-04-2021 14:00 in week 16
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 27-04-2021 12:15 - 27-04-2021 14:00 in week 17
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 04-05-2021 12:15 - 04-05-2021 14:00 in week 18
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Tuesday 18-05-2021 12:15 - 18-05-2021 14:00 in week 20
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias (IDS)

Monday 14-06-2021 10:00 - 14-06-2021 10:00 in week 24
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias- hand-in, portfolio (IDS)

Friday 27-08-2021 10:00 - 27-08-2021 10:00 in week 34
Radical Alternative and Concrete Utopias- hand-in reexam, portfolio (IDS)