Spring 2021 - CMNS 444 D100

Political Economy of International Communication (4)

Class Number: 7675

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 4:30 PM – 7:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 27, 2021
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units, including CMNS 240 or 247, and CMNS 346 or 348.



An examination of the domestic and international implications of the development of mass media and telecommunications and the differential impact of the free flow of technology and information.


This course examines the planetary interplay of power, wealth, and information which characterizes the international political economy of communication (IPEC). This course takes a broad approach to the topic in order to account for the high degree of integration between industries in the global economy, with the global supply chain serving as a key example of an internationally organized and integrated communication system.

This integration is made possible through a collection of discursive, material, and technological tools which we will discuss: political, economic, and cultural policy; communication and transportation infrastructure; standards and protocols; the exchange of cultural commodities between global regions, and so on. We will explore how trade agreements and international standards shape the international political economy, creating avenues for cooperation between countries, but also exploitation or coercion. In this way, we will be taking a critical political economy approach.

This course will place emphasis on emerging issues in IPEC through the lens of the debated ‘Global Power Shift’ from West to East. Among the topics explored will be: the historical context for the re-emergence of China as a dominant power; the impact of the ongoing global financial crisis and changing international financial structures; the role and structure of the entertainment industries globally; the digital divide; and the global supply chain.

Specific class topics may shift during the semester to respond to any significant events that occur with global political economic implications.

This is a senior-level seminar, so it is expected that all members of the class will be prepared to participate in the discussions/activities that take place each week.


By the end of this course, students should be able to demonstrate understanding of:

•Key concepts and theories in international political economy of communication.

•The history and development of communication networks in the international context.

•Contemporary issues and debates in international political economy of communication.

•Application of theories and concepts to contemporary issues.


  • Attendance and Participation 10%
  • In-class Written Responses 15%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Paper Proposal 10%
  • Project Presentation 15%
  • Final Paper 30%


The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline [Note: as of May 1, 2009 the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]


All readings will be made available through Canvas or are accessible online.



All readings will be made available through Canvas or are accessible online.

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 spring 2021 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).