Fall 2022 - IS 306 D100

State Failure and Reconstruction (4)

Class Number: 6680

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5028, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 16, 2022
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    WMC 3220, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Examines the causes of state fragility and collapse, and assesses the challenges of reconstruction. Focusing on cases from different regions, we will explore the security dimensions of state fragility; the role of humanitarian intervention; the challenge of building democratic institutions in divided societies; and, the relationship between statebuilding and peacebuilding. Students who have taken IS 409 with this topic may not take this course for further credit.


This course focuses on the topics of state fragility and reconstruction. We will analyze international interventions in fragile or “failing” states, as well as domestic initiatives for state reconstruction or development.

Over the course of the semester, we will explore the following questions:

1) What are the defining characteristics of the state and its key functions?
2) What is state “failure” and how is it different from state “fragility?”
3) Why do states “fail?” What are the consequences of such failure domestically and internationally?
4) Can external actors be effective in promoting reconstruction?
5) What can be done to promote social reconciliation after civil conflict and to create enduring peace?


This course has three main pedagogical objectives:
1) To become acquainted with the key concepts, problems, and debates in the literature on state fragility and development.
2) To practice and improve the ability to think critically and rigorously, and express that thinking in oral and written form.
3) To practice and improve the ability to apply theoretical knowledge to concrete, real-world problems and issues, whether you will be doing so as a political science student or in any other capacity.


  • Participation 20%
  • Weekly assignments 20%
  • Midterm closed-book exam 20%
  • Final Paper of 12-15 double-spaced pages 40%


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.


Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



This course does not follow a textbook. All course readings will be available electronically via SFU Library and hyperlinked through the course Canvas page.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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