Teaching with IPSP

Sociology of Development at the University of Regina

Professor JoAnn Jaffe describes a class she taught using the IPSP report.

I’ve been teaching a third-year class in the Sociology of Development in the Department of Sociology and Social Studies at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada for 25 years. This year, the class focused around a review of the IPSP. With only 4 students—two from Sociology and two from International Studies—and meeting every Thursday at 8:30 am for 3 hours, the students found the documents engaging and, actually, exciting in their immediacy and approach. They particularly appreciated the places where analyses were illustrated with case studies. The students were taken with the idea of contributing to something ‘real’, even if it was in a small measure, and they welcomed being able to exercise their “sociological imaginations” in relation to an actual project.

The students reviewed 9 chapters: 1-4, 6, 8, 10, 18, and 19, which are the ones that more or less parallel the content of the way the class is taught normally. The students were able to see, as they said, the different voices in the texts, in that they could sometimes tell when the presentation shifted from economist to sociologist or from “Global Northerner” to “Global Southerner”. They could see that every voice, each perspective, mattered, but they also noted that there remained silences in the text and things to improve upon or expand, even after the second draft. The students appreciated the optimistic tone of the text and the social ethos of solidarity expressed. It is interesting to note that this was diametrically opposed to what was happening in the politics of the province of Saskatchewan in the Fall of 2017, so the chapters provided an interesting counterpoint to the news, and local politics offered us data with which to analyze and understand the perspectives we were reading.

I personally found this process a great way to introduce issues that I would have been covering during the normal course of the class. As we worked through the text, the review process allowed me say, “Let me give you some background on that…”, and I could continue with the content that I would be lecturing about if this were a different year. We were momentarily scared when we lost access to the draft on October 15, but grateful that the IPSP team worked with us to quickly restore our access. Having access to both the 1st and the 2nd draft and being able to see the resultant changes proved interesting to all of us. We’d all like to say how thankful we are for the opportunity to participate in this process.

Read the student essays here: