Resource Title

What do we mean by Development?


What do we mean by Development? is a discussion document which explores different descriptions of development for teachers, students and development educators rather than providing a comprehensive definition of development or development theories. It aims to provide clarity to development definitions and to link “models of development with the here-and-now problems of real people.”

Resource Details


This 25-page booklet explores an understanding of what development is about. It discusses some of the main dimensions of development and attempts a possible description of the concept. In doing so, it looks at past ideas about development – growth and modernisation, Marxism, free markets, radical liberalism, basic human needs, the World Bank, UNDP and the Human Development Index. It explores ideas linked to development – poverty, sustainable development, gender and development, civil society; importantly it briefly looks at what development is not.  Towards the back of the booklet is a summary of the Declaration on the Right to Development.

Big Ideas in this Resource

  • provides an understanding of the way in which ideas about development have evolved
  • outlines some of the main ‘ingredients’ of development
  • provides an understanding of closely associated ideas of development
  • discusses what development is not

Further reading: references included in the booklet.

Available from:

Download What Do We Mean By Development (PDF)