Debating Development

Course Code :9009UAOOUD
Study domain:
Academic year:2019-2020
Semester:1st semester
Contact hours:30
Study load (hours):84
Contract restrictions: No contract restriction
Language of instruction:English
Exam period:exam in the 1st semester
Lecturer(s)Gert Van Hecken
Janus Verrelst
François Levrau
Leni Franken
Sarah Vancluysen
Ivan Ashaba
Réginas Ndayiragije
Cassandra Vet

3. Course contents *

This annual series of six debates has the intention to expose students and the interested public to contemporary development topics. We offer a platform for reflection on current topics in the field of development to a broad public. Each topic is introduced on the basis of a presentation by a renowned speaker. A discussant sets the stage for further debate. Our guest speakers come from international institutes, civil society and academia. The discussions will be moderated by the academic staff of the Institute of Development Policy (IOB) of University of Antwerp .

Students are not expected to be debaters themselves. They are actually the spectators of the debates, but there is room for questions and critical remarks at the end of each session. The focus of the course is on the academic content and understanding/analysing different perspectives, not on debating skills.

As we put a strong emphasis on the academic content, we aim at a nuanced approach to the topics.

Every year we select a different central theme. The previous years we covered climate (2018), natural resources (2017) and democracy (2016).

Programme 2019: The role of the private sector in sustainable development

The recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a multi-dimensional framework to achieve economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Achieving the SDGs requires the involvement of various actors across society, and often in very new ways. One of the key players that has been put forward to achieve the 2030 Agenda is the private sector. The involvement of businesses would mobilize much-needed long-term private finance for sustainable growth, increase productivity, generate new and better quality jobs, and promote technological innovations. This shift of focus on businesses from merely profit-seeking entities to potential agents of positive and sustainable change sounds very appealing. But it also raises many contentious questions. What kind of change could we expect from business-led strategies ‘in a world where economic growth has delivered wealth alongside inequality and prosperity alongside environmental damage and climate change’ (Institute for Human Rights and Business, p.5). Is it plausible and realistic to expect from business enterprises to provide the transformative changes that are needed to address environmental degradation, poverty, and inequality? And how would such changes feed into the imbalance in political power between public and private interests?

In the 2019 ‘Debating Development’ series we seek out the most contentious issues in the relationship between business and development. We organize timely debates between academics, NGOs and representatives from the private sector around six challenging topics.

The debates will take place on the following tentative dates:

Tuesday 1 October
Introduction lecture (closed session, not open to the external public) 

Tuesday 22 October
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Business Ethics
Céline Louche (Audencia Management School, Nantes)
Luc van Liedekerke (University of Antwerp)

Tuesday 29 October
The Big Four and Corporate Tax Avoidance. The Role of Tax Avoidance Merchants in Fixing the System
Sol Picciotto (Lancaster University and Tax Justice Network)
Atul Shah (City University London)

Tuesday 5 November 
The Role of Philanthropy in Sustainable Development
Linsey McGoey (University of Essex)
Sara Kinsbergen (Radboud University, Nijmegen)

Tuesday 12 November
Political Ecologies of Security Privatisation, Militarisation and Conservation
Rosaleen Duffy (University of Sheffield)
Christine Lain (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Tuesday 26 November
Disruptive enclaves and risky politics. The challenges of making mining work for sustainable development 
Tomas Frederiksen (University of Manchester)
Piet Wostyn (KU Leuven)

Tuesday 10 December
Beyond (green) growth?
Julia Steinberger (School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds)
Brent Bleys (Ghent University)

For more information: