The 'De' of Development — Master Thesis

We, as a global community, are perhaps at a pivotal point in our history. The economic market related decisions that humans have been making for generations are rendering like never before notable effects on our natural environment and overall societal functioning. Micro-scale “development” impacts are evermore conglomerating and generating tangible macro-scale global footprints, and vice versa.

Our human condition is changing in form, nature, and substance. This is perhaps an alchemical transmutation, as we are interacting with a globalized world to the extent that humanity has never experienced. If we are going to cultivate creative solutions to global challenges, is it prudent that we consider the roots of prominent global issues?

This mixed methods thesis, conjoining civil documentary journalism with the academic lenses of environmental and social science, explores this inquiry by focusing primarily on the ‘de’ of development. What is the capitalist global market system unfastening from our vitally important human cultures and life-sustaining “natural” ecosystems; what are the replacements? What does this supposedly glorious, seemingly with no destination, march toward “progress” mean for Us all?

As a context for investigating how perhaps all of humanity is being continually impacted by development and modernity related phenomena, we journey into the high mountains of northern Thailand. There, the traditional lifestyles of ethnic indigenous peoples are rapidly vanishing. Aspects of a homogenizing global culture are perforating their socio-fabric and shifting centuries of learning and indigenous knowledge aside. Villagers from an age range inform us about this.

Foundationally considering the imperialization and rural domestic development policies governing the land under villagers’ feet, I longitudinally overlay socio-ecological change related phenomena in ways that bond notions of humans’ inextricable connection with each other, with our environments, and how changes in one aspect resultantly impact the others.

This research project is about our human condition. Its goals are rooted in illustrating how we, communally sharing Planet Earth as a global village, are together being impacted by our collective actions. This societally unifying initiative has great potential for cultivating intercultural understanding, nourishing human healing, and building social capital.

Humankind, as it always has, can determine its destiny. … May we choose wisely.