Fall 2020 - IS 322 D200

Central Asia: Democracy, Development and Conflicts (4)

Class Number: 4981

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    Nicole Jackson
    1 778 782-8424
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units. Recommended: IS 200.



Examines the new states of post-Soviet Central Asia, with particular reference to the relationship among democratization, development, autocracy and conflict, and the role of external actors in transnational security issues in the region. Students with credit for IS 412 may not take this course for further credit.


This course is designed to develop student expertise on Post-Soviet Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan) though an inter-disciplinary study of its politics and international relations. The core themes which will be explored include: i) the relationships among democratization, security and conflict; ii) the security implications of the resilience and fragility of autocracies and semi-autocracies; iii) the role of external actors in transnational security issues. The course introduces key academic works in the study of Central Asia and also draws upon policy literature.

This is a seminar course, but there may be introductory lectures followed by seminar work, presentations and debates. There will also be group work requiring students to create policy proposals towards key political and security issues. For the first time, in Fall 2020, this course will be remotely and will include graduate and undergraduate students. The specific organization of the course will be decided upon in September based on the number of students. Students will be expected to give written and oral analyses of the readings each week. There will be a role-playing scenario at the end of term.


Skills taught and assessed: These include the ability to critically analyse modern politics and security studies in Central Asia; to analyse and evaluate theories, concepts and themes of Central Asian politics. Theoretical arguments will be critiqued and applied to empirical case studies; academic texts analysed; primary sources evaluated and deployed; reasoned arguments constructed. Students will also learn to communicate effectively in oral and written form, to develop policy proposal based on empirical and theoretical works, and to work independently and with colleagues to achieve set tasks.


  • Participation 15%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Research Essay 40%
  • Scenario 15%
  • Group Position Statement 15%


Note: dependent on the number of students there may be a final exam instead of the scenario. Research Essay: 20 pages double-spaced, not including bibliography. Graduate students will have extra assignments or page lengths.

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.


This course will be delivered via online platforms, such as Zoom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.

Students are required to have a computer, with a microphone, webcam, and speakers. They also must have good access to the Internet.

Microsoft Office is required, and a free version of Office 365 is available to SFU students here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.

Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



This course will have a heavy reading load. Readings will mostly include journal articles which can be accessed online through the library or will be posted on Canvas.

Illustrative Readings

 Adeeb Khalid, Islam after communism: Religion and politics in Central Asia (University of California Press, 2014).

Marlene Laruelle and Sebastien Peyrouse, Globalizing Central Asia, M E Sharpe, 2013 (paperback)

Kent E Calder, Supercontinent: The Logic of Eurasian Integration, Stanford University Press, 2019

Jeff Sahadeo & Russell Zanca (eds.): Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present (Indiana University Press, 2007).

Daneil L Burghart, Ed, Central Asia in the Era of Sovereignty: The Return of Tamerlane? Rowman and Littlefield Publishing, London, 2018.

Kathleen Collins, Clan Politics and Regime Transition in Central Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Mariya Y. Omelicheva, Democracy in Central Asia: Competing perspectives and alternative strategies (University Press of Kentucky, 2016).

Sally N. Cummings: Understanding Central Asia: Politics and Contested Transformations (Routledge, 2012).

Thomas Stephan Eder, China-Russia relations in Central Asia: Energy policy, Beijing’s new assertiveness and 21st Century geopolitics (Springer, 2013).

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).