Spring 2021 - IS 358 D100

Development, Aid and Difference in Historical Perspective (4)

Class Number: 5874

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Examines "International Development" within a series of historical frames, including the history of imperialism, the history of international relations, globalization, and the cultural and intellectual history of North-South relations. Students who have credit for HIST 358 may not take IS 358 for further credit.


“Freedom is the preeminent objective of development,” argues Nobel-laureate Amartya Sen — against stances that are centered on economic wellbeing. Since its origins in the 1940s, the field of development studies has fiercely debated what the concept and its practice should mean, in voices that gradually came to include those from the global South, the primary recipient of development aid. At the heart of this debate are questions about how we understand Modernity — whence the aspirations and expectations that inform ideas of progress, equity, governance, and identity. These are entwined with the legacy of colonialism and postcolonial hegemony, economic and ideological. With globalization has come a growing sensitivity to the ethics of difference in the midst of sameness, as we recognize the reality of multiple modernities.

What can we learn from the particular histories of “development” of such diverse societies as Indonesia, South Africa, and Indigenous Australia? Our interdisciplinary approach in this course will draw not only on critical literature on international development, but also on the accounts of journeys to modernity as experienced by individuals and communities in literature and documentary films. Students will be encouraged to undertake independent research and reflection for their final papers.


  • Class Presentation & Contribution 30%
  • Midterm Exam 30%
  • Final Paper 40%


Active and informed participation is expected, with attendance in all sessions. Weekly readings will be assigned for class presentation on the basis of groups formed at the outset. A midterm and a final paper are required.

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.



Development as Freedom. Amartya Sen. New York, Anchor, 2000.
ISBN: 9780385720274

The Globalization and Development Reader. J. Roberts & A. Hite, eds. Blackwell. 2nd ed. 2014.
ISBN: 9781118735107

The Heart of Redness. Zakes Mda. Picador, 2003.
ISBN: 9780312421748

Documentary Films:

  • Utopia (Pilger, Australia, 2013).
  • The Globalization Tapes (Anar-Oppenheimer, Indonesia, 2003).

Supplementary readings will be posted on the course website (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


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).