The Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi, adopted a new masters degree curriculum in the 2016/2017 academic year. The MA students now pursue Master of Development Studies (MDEV) degree, a shift from MA in Development Studies that was launched in 2000.
The MDEV curriculum takes into account emerging issues that have implications for development. It covers issues such as decentralisation, urbanization, enterprise and entrepreneurship, climate change, security and peace, leadership, social protection and social policy, and financing.
These issues are clustered into five areas, namely: Human development, environment and natural resource management, economy and development, change and development in African societies, and international processes for 21st century development.
According to the IDS Director Prof Winnie Mitullah, Development Studies is a multidisciplinary programme whose teaching, research and practice are continually evolving in tandem with change processes in the society. The Director says MDEV programme addresses contemporary development issues using appropriate theories and methodological approaches.
“The curriculum recognises that Development Studies is both an art and a science. It is a subject area that seeks to respond to the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment by equipping students with skills to address these challenges at both theoretical and practical levels. It seeks to empower students to address the challenges of development through research and engagement with senior researchers, policy makers and practitioners,” says the director.
The curriculum is delivered by a team of scholars with varied academic background and experience, including sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and economists. Students who are already grounded in social sciences and other disciplines are mentored to analyse development problems in a holistic manner.
All courses take a multi-disciplinary approach and combine theory with practical application. The core courses offered under the new curriculum are:
The University of Nairobi Senate’s approval of the MDEV curriculum was the culmination of a series of meetings held by the Curriculum Development Committee (CDC) since early 2014.
The CDC, which was chaired by IDS Associate Director Prof Karuti Kanyinga, held meetings on 16th and 23rd January, 5th and 10th February 2014 to discuss the curriculum review process to prepare for consultations with stakeholders on the syllabus and regulations, and the logistics involved.
Internal stakeholders’ consultative meeting was held on 18th February 2014, at Nairobi Safari Club (Lilian Towers). It drew participants and/or representatives from the University heads of departments and faculty members who gave comments on the extent to which the various units addressed key development needs and elicited discussion on the review process.
External stakeholders’ consultative meeting was held on 19th February 2014. Participants were representatives from IDS alumni; ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industrialisation and Finance; NGOS; private sector and experts from the region and international arena.
Established in 1965, IDS, University of Nairobi, is the oldest out of 20 such institutes in the world. It is the premier multi-disciplinary and a multi-purpose development research institute in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The Institute carries out full time research on high priority areas of social-economic development in Kenya, regionally and globally.
The Institute has been home to several Nobel Laureates and world-renowned scholars. These include James Tobin, winner of Nobel Prize in Economics (1981); Joseph Stiglitz, Winner of Nobel Prize in Economics (2000); Michael Todaro, the development economist who authored the Todaro Migration Model and James Coleman, a world-renowned scholar.
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