An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency

An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency

An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency

An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency

Excerpt

In May 2006, a small group belonging to the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA) met together for a few days at Oxford to work on making the association more dynamic, in the hopes of promoting 'research from many disciplines on problems related to impoverishment, justice and well-being'. During general discussions about HDCA's role in the future, one member – Elaine Unterhalter – suggested that it might be a good idea to write a textbook on the human development and capability approach. The idea was enthusiastically embraced by the entire group.

As a consequence of that meeting, and in order to ensure ownership of the textbook project by its future users, a special working group – the 'education working group' – was created within HDCA to discuss teaching activities (and the development of teaching material) related to human development. Because of a generous grant from the UK Department for International Development to the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI at www.ophi.org.uk), which organized the meeting, more than 20 people from diverse disciplinary, geographical and professional backgrounds met in March 2007 at OPHI to discuss curricula, pedagogy, course contents, key readings, essential data, case studies, 'aha moments' and the textbook project itself. The textbook proposal was thoroughly revised to include the group's feedback based on respective teaching experiences in various contexts.

While it was being completed, the textbook was significantly reworked and improved, once again, by the feedback of another international group of academics and policy-makers. In September 2008, a group participating in a human development training course organized by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and OPHI worked on the textbook as their assignment. Not only did they substantially improve the structure and content of the textbook; they also provided vivid personal accounts and policy case studies of their own.

Audience

The multi-disciplinary nature of the human development and capability approach does not lend itself easily to specialization for a targeted disciplinary audience. The approach touches on economics, politics, sociology, law, education, psychology, philosophy and other disciplines. This book is therefore correspondingly multi-disciplinary. Within academic institutions it is intended for use by undergraduates and post-graduates in development studies, education, politics, economics and social policy. As the human development and capability approach is also of considerable interest to development . . .

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