Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


Colleagues and friends of CGD:

This week I started leave from CGD for three-plus months, to teach at Williams College. For those of you from the US west coast and outside the United States, Williams is among America’s most selective (and expensive!) small liberal arts colleges.  It’s nestled in a tiny town in the Berkshire mountains in western Massachusetts.

Credit: Flickr user SERSeanCrane/ CC

CGD has had informal links to Williams College through a founding Board member, Richard H. Sabot, for whom our annual distinguished lecture is named.  It also has a singular place in my own curriculum vitae.  I first visited Williams on a blind date as an undergraduate, in bygone times for which we need not be nostalgic when women were not yet admitted.  Many years later in 1995 I received an honorary degree from Williams.

I’ll be teaching a course for undergraduates entitled “Inequality and Development in a Globalizing World”.  The syllabus is here (and go here for more on CGD’s support for educators).  It’s a much-updated version of a course by the same name that I taught for graduate students at the Bologna, Italy campus of the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies (SAIS) in 2006. There are three parts to the course:

Part I: The big picture

Part II: Inequality within countries: the role of global markets

Part III: Inequality across countries: the role of global markets and rich country institutions.

Part III topics include, as you might guess if you know the mission of CGD, many links to CGD publications.

The syllabus is not fixed in stone by any means.  Comments and ideas from CGD followers (and from students) are most welcome. This is my first experience teaching undergraduates – I’ll be surprised if I don’t learn and adapt as I go along.

I’ll also be giving a series of seminars at Williams’ small but well-known and attractive Center for Development Economics.  CDE is home to a one-year masters program for students from the developing world.  Most are sponsored by the central banks, ministries of finance, planning, agriculture and so on.  This year’s 30 students come from 23 countries, including Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Yemen, the Philippines, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan – and beyond.  Among alumni of CDE are former Central Bank Governor Ishrat Husain of Pakistan, who served on the CGD study group on the U.S. approach to development in Pakistan.  He will be among the speakers at a CDE conference entitled “The Future of the World Bank and the IMF: Redesign For a New (and Old) World.”  Others speakers include James Robinson (co-author with Daron Acemoglu of the recent acclaimed book Why Nations Fail),  Guillermo Ortiz, Ted Truman, Andrew Steer, Olivier Blanchard and Michael Kremer.

My leave was endorsed heartily by the CGD Board, reflecting their confidence in CGD’s Vice President for Programs, Todd Moss, who will be acting for me, CGD’s VP for Communications and Policy Outreach, Lawrence MacDonald, and the rest of my colleagues.

I have several writing projects to tackle during my leave, but hope to spend much more time reading and walking in the woods.  I plan to report back to CGD friends and supporters via blog posts on key issues –and promise to keep tweeting (@nancymbirdsall).