This seminar grapples with the general ideas of “development” and “globalization,” with special attention to their relevance to the everyday lives of ordinary people, particularly in five countries where 40% of the world’s population lives. The course is formally embedded in the study of political economy (a subfield within the discipline of political science), but it is essentially interdisciplinary in nature, triangulating economic policies, political institutions, social relations, as well as factors drawn from geography and demography. The first part of the course offers a broad comparative-historical perspective in analyzing the experiences of different countries in different eras, with the post-Cold War era of globalization bringing some new challenges but also harkening back to some familiar tensions and complications. The second part draws upon the above theoretical frameworks while delving into a comparative examination of the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. In 2001, the first four members of the club (BRIC) were singled out by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs as the most important sources of global economic growth. As the financial crisis hit the West, the BRIC club saw an opportunity to organize themselves into a cooperative bloc, which was expanded to include South Africa at the first BRICS summit held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in 2009. More recently, the BRICS have seen their growth rates come down, and some question whether they represent the most attractive destinations for foreign investment. Even the prospects of long-term growth in China, which may soon surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy, is becoming a subject of debate. In all the BRICS, we have also seen signs of frustration among various social groups clamoring for better lives. Despite these trends, the five countries are major players in their regions, and four of the five remain among the world’s ten largest economies. All have adopted development strategies shaped partly by the interplay of a changing global order and their own complicated historical legacies (colonialism, communism, apartheid). Thus, even if the BRICS do not converge on a common strategy or achieve sustained cooperation, their varied “non-western” development pathways call into question the universality of the principles and policies connected to the “Washington consensus.” Looking ahead, we consider how the BRICS will fare – as individual countries and as a bloc – in their efforts to shape the 21st century global order.