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  3. NGOs and International Development

NGOs and International Development (LAWS90155)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90155
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject considers the topic of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international development. In addition to critically examining the development context, this subject will highlight the importance of NGOs in development and engage with the criticisms that NGOs working in and towards development attract. In that respect, the course demonstrates how interest in NGOs has both reflected and informed wider theoretical trends and debates within development studies, public international law and not-for-profit law. It will also consider NGOs in relation to ideas and debates about civil society, globalisation and ideas and practices of international aid. The subject will consider a wide diversity of NGOs and locate their modern roles within broader histories of imperialism, proselytization, charity, self-determination and struggle as well as within the ideological context of neoliberalism. The legal and policy relationships of NGOs with governments and how this impacts on national and popular sovereignty, service delivery and civil and political freedoms will be examined through contemporary practice and case studies.

Principal topics include:

  • Introduction to NGOS: What are non-governmental organizations? What legal forms do they take? How are they regulated?
  • Understanding NGOs in historical context
  • Introduction to development: what do we mean by development?
  • NGOs and development theory: from missionary to mainstream?
  • NGO roles in contemporary development practice
  • NGOs and ‘civil society’
  • NGOs: contemporary practice and case studies
  • NGOs and the government sponsored aid system
  • NGOs and international humanitarian action
  • Australia, development and NGOs
  • NGOs in broader perspective.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have a sophisticated and critical understanding of the history of, and thinking around, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the context of development
  • Obtain a specialised understanding of the central role played by NGOs in the fields of international and national development
  • Be able to understand and assess critiques of NGOs and their relationship to, and work in, development
  • Have an integrated and advanced knowledge of the international legal and institutional frameworks regulating NGOS in the context of international development
  • Have a sophisticated and critical understanding of the range of theoretical approaches to understanding and critiquing the work of NGOs in the context of development
  • Have an integrated and advanced knowledge of Australian law and policy with respect to NGOs working in a development setting
  • Have an advanced capacity to critically examine current issues arising with respect to NGOs in the context of development
  • Have developed high level analytical and research skills, as well as the capacity to understand and evaluate complex legal sources and literature, and literature in related disciplines
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate superior critical and creative ideas relating to NGOs and the concept of development.

Last updated: 20 July 2019