An Introduction to Development

FORUM 19.09.2017

Action Item

Each week at the beginning of forum we will be posting a related action item to help educate, engage, and encourage you to take an active approach to development. Whether it’s sending a tweet, signing a petition, sending an email, or making a phone call, we want to put you in control and facilitate opportunities for you to make a tangible difference in the areas you are most passionate about. We also see this as an excellent opportunity to get to know your fellow forum attendees. Have a discussion, start a debate, and make a new friend! This week we asked attendees to sign up for and sign a petition to call on the commonwealth to tackle gender inequality, poverty, and disease. Click the link below to add your signature if you’d like!

Our Goal

“Our goal with forum is to provide a safe, informative, judgement free space to discuss a variety of issues within development. As part of our introductory forum, we went over some terms and concepts that have been used frequently in previous years. That being said, we don’t want the fear of using a wrong term to ever be a barrier to discussion! We want everyone who comes to forum to feel comfortable expressing themselves in whatever way they see most fit. If this means not always using language that is the most politically correct, that’s okay! If you ever hear something you don’t understand, ask – if you’re confused, it’s probably safe to assume there are at least three other people in the room just as lost as you are. No question is too simple or too complex and you will never be judged for trying to grow in your understanding. If you do hear someone using an inaccurate or outdated term and you would like to correct them, please do so in a helpful and informative way as opposed to using an accusatory tone. While it is important to recognize that words carry with them a certain weight, it is also crucial that we remember everyone here is coming from vastly different backgrounds with varying degrees of development knowledge but that we all share a common desire to learn, grow, and make a difference.”

This Week’s Conversation


Development can lack a clear definition and can be ambiguous in practice. For us at QPID, we attempt to fulfill our mandate and work towards development through advocacy and education, ensuring we address both local and global issues, providing experiential learning opportunities for other Queen’s students through projects abroad.

Human Development Index:

Poverty used to be conceptualized in purely economic terms. Statistics used to measure poverty were related to the national economic output of a country in a given year. These statistics failed to take into account differences in the distribution of goods within  country and ignore other dimensions of poverty that are not purely economic.


Sustainability was defined by the Brundtland Commission in 1987 as “a development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” This sounds simple but in reality, sustainability can be extremely complex and contradictory. It may be helpful to conceptualize sustainable development into three pillars; environmental, social and economic:

o   Environment; Ecological integrity is maintained, all of earth’s environmental systems are kept in balance while natural resources within them are consumed by humans at a rate where they are able to replenish themselves.

o   Economic; Human communities across the globe are able to maintain their independence and have access to the resources that they require, financial and other, to meet their needs. Economic systems are intact and activities are available to everyone, such as secure sources of livelihood.

o   Social; Universal human rights and basic necessities are attainable by all people, who have access to enough resources in order to keep their families and communities healthy and secure. Healthy communities have just leaders who ensure personal, labour and cultural rights are respected and all people are protected from discrimination.

The ultimate goal in sustainability is to balance these three pillars.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sectors:

The three sector theory is an economic theory that divides economies into three sectors of activity; primary which involves the extraction of raw materials, secondary, which deals primarily with manufacturing, and tertiary, the services industry. As economies develop, we tend to see sectoral shifts from primary to secondary, then eventually tertiary industries though the direction of causation is not clear For this reason, many economists see market and industry investment as a strong development strategy.

East/West Divide:

The East/West divide is a term used to describe the perceived cultural differences between “the East”, the Middle East, Asia, and parts of Eastern Europe, and “the West”, the Americas, Western and Central Europe and Oceania. This divide is more conceptual than geographical. This dichotomy is often criticised for creating an artificial construct of regional unification and for suggesting one political/cultural/religious way of life is superior to another. This theory is the basis for terms like “the western world”, “the eastern world” and “westernization”.

Colonialism and Neocolonialism:

Colonialism; As capitalism developed, it spread a new way of organizing how goods and services were produced which focused on profit! The needs of humans and of the natural world with its land, air and water, were given little to no consideration under this new system. In a short amount of time Europe’s appetite for the natural resources found in the lands it would colonize continued to grow! For example: colonialism in Canada, also known as settler colonialism took place when European settlers settled permanently on Indigenous lands, aggressively seizing those lands from Indigenous peoples and eventually greatly outnumbering Indigenous populations.

Neocolonialism; The term is often negative and widely used to refer to a form of global power in which transnational corporations and global and multilateral institutions combine to perpetuate colonial forms of exploitation of developing countries. Critics argue that neocolonialism operates through the investments of multinational corporations that, while enriching a few in underdeveloped countries, keep those countries as a whole in a situation of dependency. Such investments also serve to keep underdeveloped  countries as reservoirs of cheap labour and raw materials. International financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are often accused of participating in neocolonialism, by making loans (as well as other forms of economic aid) that are conditional on the recipient countries taking steps favourable to those represented by these institutions but detrimental to their own economies.

Global North vs. Global South:

The Global North and the Global South were terms originally meant to replace “developed” and “developing” in our development terminology. The Global North and the Global South were originally separated by the Brant line, which separated North America, Europe, parts of northern Asia and Australia and New Zealand from the southern countries. The Global North was seen as more developed while the Global South was seen as developing. This line has been proven inaccurate and countries of the Global North and Global South are now determined using GDP and standard of living measures. However, the terms Global North and Global South can be harmful, as they paint full countries with a single brush. This inhibits the study of disparities between individual areas and communities in countries, in which the standard of living can vary.

Equity vs. Equality:

Equality is defined as giving everyone the exact same amount of a resource/ service. Why is this a problem? Not everyone starts with the same advantages and privilege. For this reason equity is often far more desirable and is defined as giving everyone what they need to reach the same standard of living or success.

World Systems Theory:

Developed by Immanuel Wallenstein, the world systems theory suggests that there is a world economic system in which some countries benefit while others are exploited and that a nation’s economic systems cannot be understood without reference to the world system to which they are a part. The main characteristic of the world systems theory is its three level hierarchy; core, periphery, and semiperiphery. Core countries are the capitalist, industrialized countries of the world such as the United States, Canada and most of Europe. Semi Periphery countries are industrialized, mostly capitalist countries including Mexico, and China. Periphery countries are the less developed nations which account for a disproportionately small percentage of global wealth. The goal of the world systems theory is to help explain and understand relationships of dependency.

Development Porn:

Development porn is a term used to describe any type of media: written, photographed, or filmed, which exploits the conditions of poverty in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling something or increasing charitable donations. Introduced in the 1980s, it became common place for charity campaigns to use hard hitting images of malnourished children with flies in their eyes. This approach to advertising has been widely criticized due to its over simplifying and generalizing of poverty


The takeaway from this week’s forum was learning about some basic development terms and ideas, as well as getting familiar with the layout of weekly forums. We hope everyone now feels more comfortable coming out to forum and participating, and is less overwhelmed by complex terms.


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