Fall 2019 - IS 358 E100

Development, Aid and Difference in Historical Perspective (4)

Class Number: 8362

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Thu, 5:30–9:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Geetanjali Gill
    Office: HC 7180
    Office Hours: Thursdays, 4:15PM – 5:15PM
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Examines "International Development" within a series of historical frames, including the history of imperialism, the history of international relations, globalization, and the cultural and intellectual history of North-South relations. Students who have credit for HIST 358 may not take IS 358 for further credit.


This course aims to provide students with a historically and theoretically grounded understanding of international development from an interdisciplinary perspective. Classes will problematize development as a political construct and reveal the socioecological consequences of this construct in different eras, from colonialism to the era of globalization. We will unveil the power relations surrounding international development, with special emphasis on the importance of recognising social differences, such as gender. We will also explore development’s ‘discontents’, challenges to the theories and practices of development, and shifts in thinking and practice by international development academics and practitioners in more recent times.

Students will be introduced to key issues and critical theories of international development. They will delve deeply into these theories and views through structured discussions, group work, and documentary excerpts. Weekly classes will consist of a combination of lectures, structured discussions of assigned readings, and discussions of documentary excerpts. Lectures will provide the historical and conceptual background for in-class case study discussions on assigned readings and documentary excerpts. Students are expected to have read assigned readings before the start of each class, and to engage with the readings during group discussions.


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

• Understand historical shifts in the theory and practice of international development and development aid
• Understand and critically analyze complex issues, and the contested theories and practice of international development
• Critically participate in and contribute to contemporary debates and discussions concerning international development theories and practice
• Formulate original ideas and analyses concerning international development, situating evidence-based arguments within academic literature


  • Attendance & Participation 15%
  • Case-Study Paper 35%
  • In-Class Exam 25%
  • Take-Home Final Exam 25%


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.



Unger, C., 2018, International Development: A Post-War History, Bloomsbury. [available to purchase at Bookstore, and also on Reserve at Belzberg Library]

Rist, G., 2014, The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith (4th edition), Zed Books. [no purchase required]

All other required readings will be provided 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