Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Forwarded email (good conference opportunity!)

Call for applications

African Programme on Rethinking Development Economics

3 - 17 September 2009
Durban, South Africa

Supported by
the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa (the dti)
and the French Development Agency (AFD
with French Institute of South Africa (IFAS)

We are pleased to announce that the 2009 African Programme on Rethinking Development Economics (APORDE) will be held in Durban (South Africa) from the 3rd to the 17th of September. Building on the success of the first two editions of APORDE, in 2007 and 2008, we are seeking applications from talented African, Asian and Latin American economists, policy makers and civil society activists who, if selected, will be fully funded.

We encourage everyone with an interest in development to read and distribute this call. We also encourage those who feel they meet the criteria specified below to apply: APORDE is a fully-funded programme, so money should not be an issue when considering whether to apply.

However, by the same token, entry into this high-level programme will be very competitive and only 26 applicants will be selected.

APORDE is a joint initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry, the French Development Agency and the French Institute of South Africa. Alice Amsden (MIT), Michel Aglietta (Institut Universitaire de France), Ha-Joon Chang (University of Cambridge) and Ben Fine (SOAS)
are among the lecturers who will teach on the programme. Nicolas Pons-Vignon (IFAS) is the APORDE Course director and Thandi Phele (The Dti) is the Deputy Course director.

For more information, visit

APORDE is being conducted in a climate when there is much greater contestation of ideas around the possible options for economic development and industrialisation than in many decades. An initiative like APORDE can make a very important contribution in offering us new insights and reflections on the critical questions of building a developmental state and mounting a serious industrial policy.

Dr. Rob Davies, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry


While there has been an increased questioning of the neoliberal domination in policy making, the supply of critical and constructive responses remains poor. The situations in most developing countries are particularly preoccupying, since governments and civil societies are weakly equipped to respond critically to external initiatives aimed at their development and to generate endogenous strategies. Due to, among other things, resource constraints, researchers and students from developing countries tend to rely on a small number of standard textbooks and the publications from the multilateral financial institutions, which severely restricts their exposure to alternative approaches. Sub-Saharan Africa is probably most affected by the poor
availability of cutting-edge research and teaching in non-orthodox economics. The influence of neoclassical economics in the continent has precluded the exploration of more proactive state involvement to support economic development and reduce poverty. The tide is, however, gradually turning: the need for "more" (rather than merely "better", which in neoliberal terms has proved to mean "less") state intervention in economic affairs is increasingly recognised.

Crucially, economic take-off appears bound to remain a pipedream if it is premised on unabated liberalisation rather than developmental trade and industrial policies. The latter would represent a qualitative leap in the nature of state intervention, which is currently typically limited to "creating favourable conditions".

The shortcomings of "populist", or neopopulist, alternatives to the neoliberal orthodoxy will also be discussed. These alternatives, which tend to focus on specific issues, for instance the environment or "extreme poverty", have caught the public's attention and contributed to the ongoing reformulation of the mainstream development discourse.

One of the most striking examples of the (sometimes combined) failure of both neoliberal and neopopulist theories is land reform, which will be discussed in APORDE.

APORDE will allow talented academics, policy makers and civil society representatives from Africa (and, to a lesser extent, from Asia and Latin America) to gain access to alternatives to mainstream thinking on development issues and to be equipped in a way that will foster original thinking. Participants will receive intensive high-level training, interact with some of the best development economists in the world and with other participants. All costs incurred by participants– travel, accommodation, conference fees and per diem – will be

The seminar will be held in Durban from the 3rd to the 17th of September 2009. The venue will be confirmed at a later stage.

APORDE will cover essential topics in development economics, presenting views that are critical of the mainstream. Topics will include industrial policy, poverty, financial crises and violent conflict and development. Lectures will equip participants with key information pertaining to both mainstream and non-mainstream approaches. Day lectures will last for three and a half hours, while a number of shorter lectures will also be organised. Several workshops will be held around overarching themes.

It is necessary that participants demonstrate first-class intellectual capacity and (at least some) prior knowledge in economics, as well as proficiency in English. However, the objective of APORDE is to draw participants from a broad range of backgrounds; persons who have demonstrated exceptional capacity in their professional lives are invited to apply.

The main body of participants will be drawn from Africa, but we welcome applications from Asians and Latin Americans who have research or work experience related to Africa.

Prospective applicants should send
a Curriculum Vitae;
an official transcript (showing courses taken and grades obtained);
2 (two) letters of reference, where possible 1 academic referee and 1 professional, which should be sent directly to [email protected] or faxed to +27 11 836 5850;
an essay of no more than 1500 words stating how they would benefit from APORDE. For those whose main medium of instruction or work is not English, some proof of English proficiency will be necessary. Results of standard English proficiency tests (e.g. TOEFL or IELTS) will be preferable, but other proof may also be accepted (e.g. a sample of written work in English.

Applications, accompanied by a covering letter indicating the applicant's full contact details (including the e-mail address and telephone numbers), should be sent to [email protected] to the attention of Nicolas Pons–Vignon. The application should actually reach Nicolas Pons-Vignon by Sunday 15 March 2009 at midnight at the latest. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Please note that individual acknowledgement of applications will be sent by e-mail only. Candidates will be notified by e-mail of the outcome of their applications by the end of April 2009.


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