Fall 2019 - IS 220 J100

Wealth and Poverty of Nations (3)

Class Number: 8351

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Wed, 5:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 8, 2019
    Sun, 7:00–10:00 p.m.



Analyzes some of the historical reasons for the great divergence in world economic development, and undertakes a cross-country, cross-regional perspective of world economic development using a historical approach to long-run economic growth. Breadth-Social Sciences.


This course introduces students to the origins, reproduction and transformation of global inequality from a comparative and historical perspective. It explores the question of how and why global prosperity has been unevenly distributed between and within different regions of the global political-economic landscape. In doing so, it pays particular attention to the patterns of interaction, interconnectedness and integration in the global economy and asymmetries of power and development they have engendered. The course starts with meta-narratives providing alternative explanations of the emergence of capitalism and the divergence between the “West and the Rest”. We will then explore several topics regarding global wealth and unequal power relations. Subsequent classes will deal with development, the role of international financial institutions, innovation, competitiveness, global value chains, poverty and labour chains, and climate capitalism. We will conclude the course by reviewing our major discussions and contemplating future orientations.


Upon the successful completion of the course students will be able to:

- evaluate some of the key concepts and topics in the field of global political economy
- develop a firm understanding of the historical development of global wealth and poverty
- broaden their understanding and awareness of contemporary patterns of inequality between societies and regions of the world
- improve skills in analytical and critical thinking and writing
- participate in public deliberation
- apply theories and concepts to contemporary cases in an independent research project


  • Participation 15%
  • 5 Discussion Questions (4% each, due 11:59pm the day before class)) 20%
  • Case Study Analysis (1500 words, due November 6)) 25%
  • Final Exam 40%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.



Students are required to prepare for class by doing all of the assigned readings before class meetings. They do not need to purchase any books or a course kit. All readings for this course are available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html