Fall 2021 - IS 427 D100

Globalization, Poverty and Inequality (4)

Class Number: 5569

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    HCC 1530, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Analyzes the origins and the economic consequences of globalization and the uneven process of economic development around the world in relation to poverty, by considering the measurement of poverty, its causes and dynamics, as well as public policy for poverty reduction.


Despite groundbreaking advances in science and technology and the enormous material wealth created over the past couple of centuries, a considerable part of the world’s population continues to be deprived of decent standards of living and have limited access to essential services and resources such as health, education, clean water, food and shelter. The widening wealth gap undermines democracy, and the predominant patterns of wealth accumulation, production and consumption have devastating impacts on the environment.  

Why is this the case? Why do we have prosperity at one pole and immiseration at the other?  What are the patterns and extent of global inequality? How has the increasing cross-border mobility (of goods, services, capital and people) been affecting living conditions in different parts of the world? Why is globalization's impact so different across communities, regions and countries? What are the strengths and shortcomings of existing initiatives, policies, and programs designed to address global poverty and inequality? What lessons can be drawn from the multi-faceted and multidimensional crises of the twenty-first century and the vulnerabilities they have exposed? How can we build our economies to achieve a more equal and sustainable future?  

These are some of the key questions that will guide our conversations and engagement with course materials. Throughout the term, we will explore the origins, contemporary manifestations, and the future of global poverty and economic inequality. The course is divided into three parts. The first part will provide a broad picture by examining the links between globalization, poverty and inequality from a historical perspective in order to understand long-term patterns and their impacts on the present. In the second part, we will analyze contemporary trends, policy challenges, the roles and effectiveness of global governance institutions, and the extent of poverty and inequality. In the third part, we will focus on new avenues, future directions and counter-hegemonic alternatives. We will discuss the pros and cons of various policy proposals put forward for combating global poverty and inequality, including the universal basic income, global wealth tax, working-time regulation, green growth and de-growth. We will pay particular attention to the alternatives offered by indigenous and popular movements.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • develop an analytic and critical understanding of the drivers, patterns and implications of global poverty and inequality
  • broaden their understanding of contemporary challenges, policy dilemmas and opportunities related to combating poverty and inequality
  • interpret patterns and trends in data and identify the limitations of the most widely used measures of poverty and inequality (such as poverty lines and the Gini coefficient)
  • participate in public deliberation about policy challenges and innovative ways of addressing poverty and inequality
  • identify the main argument and evidence provided in an academic text and assess their strengths and weaknesses
  • develop arguments with evidence from relevant scholarly sources
  • apply theories and concepts to contemporary cases in an independent research project


  • Attendance & Participation 15%
  • Reading Reflections (5 x 5%) 25%
  • Midterm exam 20%
  • Presentation 10%
  • Term Paper 30%


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.



There is no textbook for this course. All readings will be made available electronically through Canvas. Students are required to come to class having done all the assigned readings beforehand.

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 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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 may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.