Decolonizing Development Education and the Pursuit of Social Justice

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61 Scopus citations


Decolonization has become a popular discourse in academia recently and there are many debates on what it could mean within various disciplines as well as more broadly across academia itself. The field of international development has seen sustained gestures towards decolonization for several years in theory and practice, but hegemonic notions of development continue to dominate. Development is a contested set of ideas and practices that are under critique in and outside of academia, yet the reproduction of colonial power structures and Eurocentric logics continues whereby the realities of the global majority are determined by few powerful institutions and a global elite. To decolonize development's material and discursive powers, scholars have argued for decolonizing development education towards one that is ideologically and epistemologically different from dominant narratives of development. I add to these conversations and posit that decolonized ideologies and epistemologies have to be accompanied by decolonized pedagogies and considerations of decolonization of institutions of higher education. I discuss the institutional and critical pedagogical dilemmas and challenges that exist, since epistemological, methodological, and pedagogical decolonizations are influenced by institutional politics of higher education that are simultaneously local and global. The paper engages with the concept of critical hope in the pursuit of social justice to explore possibilities of decolonizing development praxis and offers suggestions on possible pathways forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-46
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Geography(United Kingdom)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Development
  • critical hope
  • decolonial
  • decolonization
  • epistemology
  • pedagogy
  • praxis
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Philosophy


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