Development Communication

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Cain
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1300
End: 1415
Field Work: Day 2 - Rangoon - 28 February | Myanmar (Burma) Download Syllabus

Development communication and culture play complex roles in social and economic development. In this course, students review major theories concerning the use of communication and media to promote economic development and social change, beginning with the post‐WWII modernization theorists. They examine the assumptions of those models that led to the failure of early development programs and the emergence of alternative models. Students also explore the influence of culture on communication in a development context and various approaches to viewing the role of culture on human progress. The course concludes with the integration of these approaches in support of equitable and sustainable development.

Field Work

Country: Myanmar (Burma)
Day: 2 - Rangoon - 28 February

Rangoon is an ideal location for the Development Communication field lab due to its history, recent political developments, and a dire need for “development.” (Note: Burma is ranked as 149th using the Human Development Index.) While Rangoon is not officially Burma’s capital now, it remains Burma’s commercial, economic, legal and cultural hub, as well as its major port. The city may be illustrative of the country’s future progress in development; therefore, investigation into development efforts in Rangoon will contribute to a better understanding of the country’s current efforts to enhance quality of life. Students will listen to several non-governmental organizations discuss their efforts to build capacity and focus on key development indicators. In order to understand several points of view on development issues and potential progress, we will also hear an academic perspective on the role resource endowment might play in development and how the government is allocating wealth from those resources. Last, the media plays a significant role in development and students will be introduced to the perspective from local journalists or news teams. Students will leave with a case-study perspective on the complexity of development the various actors and perspectives involved. In addition, students should develop a critical thinking perspective on the role of communication and culture in development.  Academic Objectives:  

  1. Understand the role that culture, context and communication play in development initiatives.
  2. Utilize the case study of Rangoon and Burma to illustrate the complexity and potential of global development.
  3. Using critical thinking, develop personal insights into how development efforts could be enhanced through communication and understanding of cultural context. Suggest improvements for the future.