Course description

The objective of this interdisciplinary Ph.D. course is to critically analyse the changing role of NGOs in development, focusing especially on health and environment.

In recent decades, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have played an increasingly dominant role in development. The growth of NGOs into a veritable global industry has been accompanied by increased professionalization and a diversification in the types of roles NGOs play in society. In some poor countries, notably in the health sector, they have largely replaced national governments, both in policy formulation and in service delivery. In international fora they exert considerable policy influence as campaigning policy advocates with increasing access to formal policy-making channels.

Against this background, the course will address questions such as:

  • What roles do NGO-actors play: for example in communicating local realities to those in power, in representing civil society, or as sub-contractors to donors?
  • What are their resources, and sources of power; and how is this power exercised?
  • What are the wider implications of the increased influence, proliferation-, and professionalization of NGOs?

The ambition of the course is bring together PhD students studying NGOs, especially within health and environment: to assist them to locate their own research within a wider context, viewing the roles and practices of NGOs from a critical perspective that addresses includes issues of governance and legitimacy.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Obtain a nuanced understanding of the role of NGOs in theory and in practice;
  • Be well acquainted with the major theoretical and empirical approaches to studying NGOs at local, national and global levels;
  • Engage in critical discussion, become acquainted with the work of others on the changing role of NGOs in development, and build networks within their chosen field of research.

Objectives and focus

The course will enable doctoral students to better understand key concepts, debates and perspectives on NGOs, based on up-to-date literature – and on recent developments ‘on the ground’. In addition to lectures, the course will allow those conducting Ph.D. research to present their own work and comment on that of others, guided by senior experienced academics who are themselves working in this field.

Course capacity: 18 students

Language of instruction: English

Syllabus: Approx. 1000 pages of compulsory readings.

Published Jan. 23, 2017 2:18 PM - Last modified Mar. 13, 2018 1:32 PM