Permanent Faculty: Leonora Angeles, John Friedmann, Michael Leaf

The study of socioeconomic change or development in international comparative perspective is a diverse and contentious field.  Such diversity is perhaps to be expected, not only for the variety of interpretive lenses brought to bear on questions of socioeconomic development, but for the wide range of developmental experiences found throughout the erstwhile “Third World” or the “Global South”.

Two intersecting directions of analysis characterize the approach taken in this focus area. The first is that particular conditions shaping development opportunities and practices are highly coloured by local circumstances, thus emphasizing the importance of local knowledge, cultural specificity, and the relevance of local political, social and economic structures and forces.   The second is a range of factors whose origin lies beyond the local - that is, the structures and flows associated with the current phase of globalization – and that may have major consequences for local trajectories of socioeconomic change and development.  Analyzing the dialectic between the local and the global defines the approach taken at SCARP.

This perspective is tailored to the interests of those students who wish to pursue careers in developing countries. But it is also relevant for those who wish to pursue planning careers primarily in North American contexts and would like to have a comparative perspective on development planning as global citizens.

As a component of a teaching program that is focused on issues of sustainability planning, CDP emphasizes the need for planning interventions and strategies that are informed by environmental and resource conditions both locally and globally.  As part of a program with an emphasis on democratic planning, we also stress issues of social equity and distributive justice.  The teaching faculty in CDP has wide experience in policy and project planning internationally, particularly in East and Southeast Asia and Latin America, and case studies will normally be selected from these regions.

In the past, SCARP students majoring in international development have found employment with local and international agencies and nongovernmental organizations in developing countries, as well as with North American organizations engaged in development project planning in developing countries. Given the world we live in, it is likely that a substantial number of our graduates will work abroad at one time or another. CDP is a preparation for such work, and will help to turn students into global citizens.

Studies in CDP may be combined with other areas of focus at SCARP, particularly with Community Development and Social Planning or Ecological and Natural Resource Planning as a way of bringing a comparative international perspective to these subfields of planning.

The two foundational courses of this area of concentration are:  PLAN 572 which is a survey course covering development theories and the factors shaping planning interventions; and PLAN 575 (International Development Planning- Theory & Practice- Nora Angeles) a problem-based course structured to facilitate the application of theory to real world contexts.  Both courses are structured to cover history, theory and methods appropriate to the field, and should be seen as complementary to one another.  Additional courses in the concentration focus on more specific aspects of development planning, such as planning in the context of rapid urbanization (PLAN 573) or the gender implications of socio-economic change and development.

In addition to these courses offered within SCARP, supplementary coursework may be taken in other departments. Students are also welcome to search for other non-UBC course options that suit their needs. In future years, depending upon faculty resources, we hope to develop additional specialized courses within the concentration, such as a course on regional development planning in developing countries or a course examining the developmental effects of domestic and international migration, as well as develop more possibilities for field studies undertaken outside of Canada.  An additional resource that students should know about is the International Development Research Network, a student-run network based at the Liu Institute. For more information, please visit: .



Elective courses relevant to comparative international development may be taken from the following units at the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

School of Social Work

Department of Educational Studies

Department of Geography

Department of Sociology

Department of Anthropology

Department of Political Science

Institute of Asian Research MA in Asia Policy Studies (MAPS) Program

Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies

Institute for Resource and Environmental Studies

Faculty of Land and Food Systems

Liu Institute for Global Studies

Through the Western Dean’s Agreement, SCARP students may also enroll in relevant courses.  The following list gives an example of some of the choices.


Department of Political Science

Department of Sociology

Department of Geography

School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM)


Department of Pacific and Asian Studies Faculty of Humanities

Institute for Dispute Resolution (IDR) Faculty of Human and Social Development


Department of Economics

Department of Political Science

Development Studies Program