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MD525: Poverty and Development (4 units)

Bryant Myers, Professor of International Development

Winter 2013 Pasadena

DESCRIPTION: This course explores the challenges of empowering the poor in a world marked by marginalization, disempowerment, abuse and injustice. Poverty is explored from a number of perspectives, concluding with a biblical framework. Responses to poverty are then explored, including the goals of transformational development and the process and principles by which it is pursued. The focus is largely on development in the global South.


  1. Able to articulate and critically apply biblical and holistic understanding of poverty in broad Christian perspective

  2. Able to describe and critically assess some of the current theories of development

  3. Able to articulate and critically apply a biblical and holistic understanding of transformational development

  4. Introductory knowledge of development principles and practice

COURSE FORMAT: The class will meet weekly for three hours using a presentation and discussion format with occasional use of small groups. The equivalent of an additional three hours a week of learning activities will be required for the group presentations Forum Posts. Together this meets the 40-hour instructional time requirement.

REQUIRED READING: (1600 pages) If you have previously read any of the required texts, please select an alternative text from the recommended reading list or a book approved by the instructor.

  1. Myers, Bryant. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. 2nd ed. Orbis, 2011. ISBN: 9781570759390. Publisher’s Price $30.00.
  2. Christian, Jayakumar. God of the Empty-Handed: Poverty, Power and the Kingdom of God. Victoria, Australia: Acorn Press, 2011. ISBN: 987132903. Publisher’s Price AU$29.95.
  3. Friedmann, John. Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development. Blackwell, 1992. ISBN: 9781557862990. Publisher’s Price $41.95.
  4. Centesimus Annus. Available at http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0214/_INDEX.HTM.
  5. Populorum Progressio. Available athttp://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/
  6. Hiebert, Paul, et al. Understanding Folk Religion. Baker Books, 1999. (Chapters 1-4.) ISBN: 9780801022197. Publisher’s Price $34.00.
  7. Narayan, Deepa, et al. Voices of the Poor: Crying Out for Change. Oxford University Press, 2000. (Chapters 1-2.) ISBN: 9780195216028. Publisher’s Price $15.00.
  8. Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. Knopf, 1999. (Introduction and chapters 1-4.) ISBN: 9780375406195. Publisher’s price $17.00.
  9. All articles in Course Reader.


  1. A written 4-5 page critical assessment paper using course materials and readings covered in the first five weeks of the course.
  2. Students, in teams of 4-6, will present and lead a one-hour classroom presentation and discussion that summarizes and critiques the explicit and implicit (a) understanding of poverty and (b) theory of development of a major development organization based on the materials on its website.
  3. 12- to 15-page research paper on a topic related to the course, agreed to by the professor.
  4. ThM students write an additional five-page theological reflection.


RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM: Meets core competency for MA Crosscultural Studies program (CSCC), pre-2010 curriculum.


NOTE: This ECD is a reliable guide to the course design but is subject to modification.