|Each week's meeting begins with student presentations, 15 minutes each. These — as well as your midterm paper — will revolve around the question indicated for Weeks 06-07. Obviously, the “conventional, disciplinary” background referred to there is something that remains to be developed between now and then. However, independent of that material, based on only your current general understanding (and perhaps a little forward reading), your presentation should seek to provide insight on circumstances and history for an economy of your choice. (Think of this as a briefing for the CIA - they want to know what you consider the salient facts, history, risks, and prospective trajectories for country X, not so much an analytical, disciplinary framework for it.) Then as the course unfolds in the first six weeks and develops more analytical, disciplinary material, your midterm paper can build on your presentation by merging that presentation's substance with additional analytical content. This “circumstances and history” focus applies even for those making presentations after the mid-term paper: in the 15 minutes available for your presentation, you won't have time to bring in much more additional material. The penultimate course meeting will involve breakout groups, assigned to discuss an economic development challenge, with everyone returning to make group presentations on their solutions. No individual student presentations will be made that week. [Class presentation schedule.
Presenters are invited to submit, by 1700h three working days ahead of their session, some readings they reckon might be useful for what they will say. After the presentations we will have a 15-minute break—just enough to grab a cup of coffee or tea. Then the instructor lectures for the remaining time going over some other related background material, using that to bring out some of the points that the presenters have themselves made. The session then ends with general discussion on the questions arising from the readings, the presentations, and the lecture. I give here some suggestions for how individual presentations might usefully go.
Active participation in the discussions is an integral part of the learning experience in this course. Students will be assessed on both quantity and quality of their interventions; reading the materials beforehand is therefore important. The participation that attracts the highest marks will be one that critically reflects on the readings but then also engages with the thread of the discussion generally.
However abstract our discussions end up, still the end-result needs to be one that policy-makers and observers need to remember concretely and to take forwards in their work. Try to make our discussions thus. When discussing proposals and recommendations, be hard on ideas, not on people (least of all your fellow students!). Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and end up spending too much time on semantics, terminology, and abstract definitions. Try to get to something that works, and then improve from there as needed.