• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Anthropology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person

This course is available for in-person and remote (online) learning.

This course explores contemporary global governance in practice, using case studies about the work of Multilateral Development Banks, like the World Bank and other regional development banks. Organisations like the World Bank have the potential to set the agenda for international development assistance, and traditionally have done so. However, geo-political changes at the start of the “Asian Century” are now leading to new and competing sources of development knowledge and finance. In this context, we explore the ideas, tools and policies that are typically used by Multilateral Development Banks to guide their operations and exert influence, including: the Sustainable Development Goals; loans for infrastructure; country-level reform packages; mechanisms for securing global public goods like biodiversity; rising private sector engagements; safeguards and grievance mechanisms; and indicators. We explore the power, efficacy and limitations of these global governance practices, revealing: (i) the social construction and political nature of global expertise; and (ii) how institutions like the World Bank are not monolithic, but are often subject to internal contestation and practical limitations, as they confront a wide variety of complex, real-world problems.

This course material has proven to be appropriate for EMD and MAAPD Masters students, as well as others in POGO, International Relations and Anthropology.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate and explain the role and significance of Multilateral Development Banks as global development institutions.
  2. Examine and critically analyse, in a practical and ethnographic way, Multilateral Development Banks and their influence in developing country contexts.
  3. Contribute to public debate about the potential future role of Multilateral Development Banks for human development and sustainability this century.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Thematic essay (30) [LO 2]
  2. Country case study and presentation (50) [LO 1]
  3. Group Statement (20) [LO 3]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


30 hours lectures and seminars; 90 hours reading and writing

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Use will be made of a variety of documents produced by the World bank and other Multilateral Development Banks (MDB), available online. In addition, students will be directed to read extracts from other publications containing critical discussions of World Bank and other MDB policies, procedures and practices, e.g.

Goldman, M., 2005. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Engle Merry, S. 2011 "Measuring the World: Indicators, Human Rights, and Global Governance" Current Anthropology 52, no. S3

Preliminary Reading


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $3960
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $5820
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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