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From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development

Enrollment in this course is by invitation only

About This Course

How can poor societies become prosperous and overcome obstacles to do so? Professor Sir Paul Collier is one of the world’s leading scholars on this question, and in this economics course you will have the opportunity to learn from him directly.

This course will discuss and examine the following topics:

  • the role of government and the key political, social and economic processes that affect development;
  • why societies need polities that are both centralised and inclusive, and the process by which these polities develop;
  • the social factors that are necessary for development, including the importance of identities, narratives and power;
  • the impact of economic processes on development, including discussion about how government policies can either promote or inhibit the exploitation of scale and specialisation; and
  • the external conditions for development, including aid, trade, migration, military interventions, and international rules for governance.

Enrol in this course to understand the factors that influence economic development and the different development paths that countries across the world have taken.

What You’ll Learn

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • identify internal political, social, and economic factors that influence development;
  • understand how external influences can impact the internal political, social, and economic processes;
  • understand the varied paths of development that different countries have taken; and
  • apply the concepts learned by completing an assignment that requires you to compare the development path of two chosen countries.

Learner Testimonial

“Taking this course has changed the way I look at development in my own country, and it gave me a new framework to understand the challenges and opportunities facing us.” - Rafat Al-Akhali


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Staff

Course Staff Image #1

Sir Paul Collier

Sir Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government (BSG). From 1998–2003 he took a five-year Public Service leave during which he was director of the Research Development Department of the World Bank. He is currently a Professeur invité at Sciences Po and a director of the International Growth Centre.

His research covers the causes and consequences of civil war; the effects of aid and the problems of democracy in low-income and natural resources rich societies; urbanisation in low-income countries; private investment in African infrastructure and changing organisational cultures.

Recent books include The Bottom Billion (Oxford University Press, 2007) which in 2008 won the Lionel Gelber, Arthur Ross and Corine prizes and in May 2009 was the joint winner of the Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book prize; Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places (Vintage Books, 2009); and The Plundered Planet: How to reconcile prosperity with nature (Oxford University Press, 2010). His latest book is Exodus: How migration is changing our world (Oxford University Press, 2013).

In 2014, Paul received a knighthood for services to promoting research and policy change in Africa.

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Enrollment in this course is by invitation only