The Disciplines Series: The Idea of Development

The economic aftermath of World War II in Europe is normally studied through the lens of reconstruction. However, many contemporaries saw “backwardness” as the main social and economic issue in several European regions.

The Learning Society

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
  • Joseph E.  Stiglitz, University Professor, Columbia University
  • Bruce Greenwald, Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management, Columbia University

It has long been recognized that an improved standard of living results from advances in technology, not from the accumulation of capital. It has also become clear that what truly separates developed from less-developed countries is not just a gap in resources or output but a gap in knowledge. In fact, the pace at which developing countries grow is largely a function of the pace at which they close that gap.

1943 stands out as a year of transitions. Developments, ranging from Italy’s capitulation to the achievements of national liberation movements, illustrated the reverse of the tide and the victorious prospects of the United Nations; questions of social, economic, and political reconstruction produced novel forms of international cooperation; diverse “blueprints for tomorrow” reflected aspirations and concerns, while their implementation generated tensions that undermined the cohesion of antifascist unity. 

William Easterly, Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute, will lead a discussion on the idea of development as an authoritarian concept. The commentator for the talk will be Gregory Mann, Associate Professor of History at Columbia. Michele Alacevich, Associate Director of Research Activities, Heyman Center for the Humanities and Diplomatische Akademie Wien, will chair the talk.

What Causes Global Inequality?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Global inequality remains a deep and abiding issue for our times, even despite the emergence of countries of the south such as China, India, Brazil, etc. Indeed many have argued that form of emergence leaves inequalities as deep as ever even in those countries, creating only a larger metropolitan middle class.

This talk will consider both the evolution of development thinking and its underlying rationale, exploring how changes in development ‘facts,’ in thinking and in policy, are related.

The field of inequality studies is relatively new but it is gaining increasing momentum as inequality grows not only in less developed countries but in advanced countries as well, and in the United States in particular. Download Professor Milanovic's paper here.

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