From Modernisation, Dependency and Soft Power Toward a Commonwealth of Learning


  • Terry Evans Deakin University
  • Victor Jakupec



‘commonwealth of learning’, learning for development, modernisation theory, dependency theory, soft power, the Washington Consensus.


This article reflects on some influential theories, concepts and institutions that have shaped the nature and substance of international development since the mid-20th century. In particular, theories of modernisation and dependency are deployed to reflect on the ways in which the International Financial Institutions, such as, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have adopted a ‘Washington Consensus’ concerning the social and economic development of ‘developing’ nations. ‘Soft power’ national agencies, such as, the British Council and USAID are brought into consideration, especially, for their interests and influences over matters of learning for development. The multi-national Commonwealth of Learning’s particular contribution to learning for development is discussed with suggestions made for developing member nations’ capacities to produce new local knowledge and to bring their existing local knowledge to the fore to share as part of a (Lockean) ‘commonwealth of learning’.

Author Biographies

Terry Evans, Deakin University

Terry Evans is an Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. He has published widely on open and distance education, and doctoral education, including twelve edited collections on the former and four on the latter.  His teaching, research, consultancy and/or QA reviews have spanned Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Fiji, New Zealand, PNG, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and USA.

Victor Jakupec

Viktor Jakupec is an Honorary Professor of education and development studies at University of Potsdam, Deakin University, and the Malawi University of Science and Technology. He has published extensively on development aid and held consultancy appointments with major international aid organisations in the field of development aid and education in 19 countries across Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East North Africa, and the Balkans.



How to Cite

Evans, T., & Jakupec, V. (2021). From Modernisation, Dependency and Soft Power Toward a Commonwealth of Learning. Journal of Learning for Development, 8(3), 473–486.



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