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Theories of Global Development

5. Sustainable Development

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about sustainable development, focusing in particular on: (i) the original definition of sustainable development produced by the Brundtland Commission in 1987, and some issues associated with it; (ii) the spectrum of approaches to sustainable development, from “light green” anthropocentric to “dark green” ecocentric perspectives; (iii) ways in which these ideas have been practiced, such as New Zealand’s and Bhutan’s development agendas, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals; (iv) indigenous ideas of sustainability, for example those of the Quechua and Aymara, and the incorporation of these into the government policies of Ecuador and Bolivia.


In this course, Professor Katie Willis (Royal Holloway, University of London) explores theories of global development. In the first lecture, we look at development as a contested concept, and at some of the ways it has been defined and measured. In the second lecture, we consider modernisation theories and their development since the Cold War. In the third lecture, we look at their relationship to neoliberalism. Next, we think about dependency and world systems approaches to explaining different levels of development across the world. In the fifth lecture, we look at sustainable development and the incorporation of environmental issues into development theory and practice. In the sixth and final lecture, we turn to post-development theory and the critique of development as a concept.


Professor Katie Willis is Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. She researches a broad range of issues related to migration, gender and global development. Her publications include Unaccompanied Young Migrants: Identity, Care and Justice (2019) (as co-editor), Geographies of Developing Areas: The Global South in a Changing World (2014) (as co-author), and Theories and Practices of Development (2005).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Willis, K. (2021, August 23). Theories of Global Development - Sustainable Development [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Willis, K. "Theories of Global Development – Sustainable Development." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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