Spring 2020 - IS 220 D100

Wealth and Poverty of Nations (3)

Class Number: 6186

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 3149, Burnaby



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.


Why are some countries wealthy and others poor? This course explores contending arguments about trends in, and causes of, global economic and development disparities, both within and across countries. As there is (of course) no single answer or approach accepted by all, the development of critical thinking about diverse explanations is a critical goal of the course. The class employs a comparative and historical approach to analyze the sources of inequality, drawing on a variety of social science disciplines, especially economics, political science, and history. Students will use their assigned essays, as well as our class discussion, to draw lessons relevant to contemporary international development.

Topics for this term include:

  • Capitalism: Its Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Defining Development and Growth
  • The Slave Trade
  • Colonialism and Neocolonialism
  • Pax Britannica and the International Gold Standard
  • The Interwar Years
  • The Bretton Woods and Post-Bretton Woods Eras
  • Cultural Theories of Underdevelopment
  • Institutional Theories of Underdevelopment
  • Geography and Development
  • Public Policy and Development


An on-going aim of the course will be integration of theory, history, and contemporary international events/news. Please expect to read up to 50 pages of complex, challenging text weekly. Please ALWAYS bring a copy of the day’s readings to class, which will serve as the basis for class discussion.


  • Midterm 20%
  • 1st Essay (1200-2500 words) 20%
  • 2nd Essay (1500-2500 words) 20%
  • Class Participation (in tutorial) 20%
  • Final Exam 20%


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.



Baker, Andy. Shaping the Developing World: The West, the South, and the Natural World. Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2014. 

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Esther Duflo. 2011. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: PublicAffairs.

* Additional readings will be available electronically 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