For tomorrow’s leaders, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the shield of achilles, and the floundering lifeboat are apt metaphors for the security problems posed by alternative paths of political, economic, and social development



The course will provide an introduction to theories of social change, modernization and political development. Most of the world’s population is affected by the dramatic social, economic, political and cultural changes occurring in developing countries. Amongst the political concepts studied are the nature of traditional society, the processes of urbanization and democratization, elements of political instability ranging from coup d’état to revolution. Measures of change and development will be discussed in economic, social, political, and security fields.

Prerequisite(s): POE320  Contact Hours: 3-0-6  Credit(s): 1

Where it fits in the program

This is a senior elective course taught periodically in small seminars. It helps students examine ideas about causality and agents of change, and the integration of political, social and economic phenomena. It does this by focusing on influential thinkers and practitioners of the 20th Century. The course concludes with foreshadowing some of the analytical and planning concepts officers use in mid-career staff college (PMESI, DIME, JIMP). This course replaces the former POE426 Case Studies in Third World Development.

Learning objectives

Students will synthesize and evaluate concepts of political, economic and social change and development and its impact on conflict, human, national and international security.

Teaching method

This is not a lecture course. Students will prepare for each class by reading or completing exercises and summaries, which will be marked as part of participation. Every assigned reading is subject to review by “60 second summary” – to be discussed in the first class.

Marking scheme

Participation                              10 percent

Review essay                            20 percent

Integrated review                      30 percent

Applied analytical paper            40 percent


Putnam, R. D. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. Jouenal of Democeacy, 6, 68.

Bobbitt, P. (2007). The shield of Achilles: War, peace, and the course of history. Random House LLC.

Polanyi, K. (2007). The great transformation: the political and economic origins of our time. Boston: Beacon Press.

Meier, G. M., & Stiglitz, J. E. (Eds.). (2001). Frontiers of development economics: the future in perspective. World Bank Publications. (electronic text online)


Part I: Concepts, tools, and frameworks

1. Overview of course – evolution of ideas about development and change

2. Key frameworks and tools for analysis: political, economic, social

Part II: Social development and change

3. Weber, Durkheim, Giddens-structure and agency;

4. Putnam: democracy, civil society, and social capital

5. Historical evolution, culture, values, and political belief

Part III: Political development and change

6. Evolution of the state

7. Bobbitt, Reich, Rothkopf;

8. Revolutionary regime change

Part IV: Economic development and change

9. Polanyi: the great transformation

10. Thinking about economic development: Meier and Stiglitz; Galbraith; Mirowski

11. Institutions, wealth and poverty: Moyo, Acemoglu and Robinson

Part V: Integrating Political, economic and social dimensions

12. evolution, revolution, and change

13. Implications for national and international security


This version of POE434 was developed by David Last without compensation as part of a normal teaching load to support delivery of an on-site course. It is neither the property nor the responsibility of RMC Division of Continuing Studies.  It is housed on a private web site paid for by Dr. Last.  Any requests for use of the course material must be referred to the authors or copyright holders.  The web site is for the use of students enrolled in the course or supervised by Dr. Last or other professors assigned to the course, and copyright material is made available to these students under “fair use” rules as in a classroom.

David Last, updated August 2015, lastdav@gmail.com