Summer 2020 - SA 302W D100

Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (SA) (4)

Class Number: 2191

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 8:30 AM – 12:20 PM



An introduction to the political economy and culture of capitalism in relation to global problems. Case studies may focus on issues of population, famine, disease, poverty, environmental destruction, social inequality, and nation-state violence. Resistance, rebellion and social movements in response to these problems also will be addressed. Writing/Breadth-Social Sci.


We are learning this theoretical material through the lens of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. This course aims to explore a series of intersecting global problems produced and maintained by capitalist modes of production and related values and feelings. This course asks a series of questions: What is capitalist culture? How are different social groups imbricated in the global culture of capitalism? Where are global problems produced and where and by whom are they most acutely felt? How, in the midst of interlocking global crises, is capitalist culture being enforced and resisted? To respond to these questions, we will examine how various theoretical perspectives have conceptualized capitalism and its social implications. Topics include: colonial violence, marginal workers, consumer culture, corporate charity, the global care chain, migration, environmental crisis, and Western labour movements.


It is my aim that in completing this course, students will be comfortable:

  • Explaining concrete global problems in terms of their general and abstract connections to capitalist processes and intersectional theories of political economy
  • Analyzing a current affairs moment or event in terms of its framing, implied values, and stakes for particular groups
  • Critiquing movements or campaigns that appear to advocate ethical consumption or social justice aims and generate good feelings
  • Summarizing and distinguishing capitalism as an economic system and a cultural value system
  • Writing clearly and with feeling about the relationship between global problems and capitalist culture


  • Weekly responses (5 x 6%) 30%
  • Reflective essay 1 10%
  • Reflective essay 2 10%
  • Course project 50%


Specific assignments and weights subject to change by the start of the course given the redesign for emergency remote learning. Before May 11, I will post a schedule of any live lectures or synchronous discussions (50 mins max per session) so that you can build your 6-week schedule.

Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.


Many components of the course will be “asynchronous,” meaning you can view “lecture” content outside of the scheduled course hours. However, there are some synchronous/live components of this course, including peer review activities, that you will need to attend. Please take a look at the schedule in advance and contact me if you foresee any issues with time zones or caregiving responsibilities.

The course is designed for you to read and watch content in the first half of the week and to work on assignments and ask for mentorship as needed during the Thursday sessions (hence many Friday noon deadlines).



Universal Access Remote learning for this semester requires a computer or tablet, camera, and internet access. Most laptops and desktops are running OSX and Windows. Tablets may be Android, iOS or Windows based. Headsets are advised but not necessary. Note that students have access to free MS Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud found here.

  • Access to a computer and/or other electronic device that will allow you to write and upload assignments in Canvas and virtually attend your classes remotely through Blackboard Collaborate and/or Zoom.
  • Access to a reliable internet connection
  • Microsoft Word for all assignment submissions 


Robbins, R. H., & Dowty, R. A. (2019). Global problems and the cuture of capitalism (7th ed.). New York: Pearson.

*Digital copy available for purchase. You will need the 2019 (seventh) edition*
ISBN: 978-0-134732794

Additional required material available through Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course 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.

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 ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion