Spring 2022 - IS 410 E100

Politics, Institutions and Development (4)

Class Number: 5332

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1530, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    90 units.



The quality of institutions' exercises a crucial influence on the prospects for development. Aims are to interrogate this claim through analysis of different paths of economic growth and change across the developing world. Examination of the ways in which politics influences economic growth and distribution; the relationships between political systems and patterns of development; and the politics of institutions and state formation.


This seminar course examines the political economy of institutions and development from a critical and comparative perspective. It explores the relationship between ideas, institutions and development through the guidance of several classical and paradigmatic contemporary texts in political economy and development studies. The course starts with an elaboration of the key premises and assumptions underlying major theories and models of development. It analyzes liberal-individualist approaches to development and old- and new-developmentalism, focusing on how they conceive state-market relations in general and the role of institutions in economic and social development in particular. It then moves on to a more focused analysis of development trajectories around the world through discussing the varieties and commonalities of capitalist development in different parts of the global North and the global South and the role of ideas, conflicts and power relations in shaping these trajectories. In the remaining parts of the course, we will attempt to puzzle out some pressing global development challenges of our time, including democratic backsliding, climate change, the crisis of care and social reproduction and global inequality and poverty traps. When contemplating solutions to these problems, we will derive insights from feminist, Marxist, post-colonial and post-development critiques of pre-dominant development paradigms and the alternatives they put forward.


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

• evaluate strengths and weaknesses of different models of development.
• compare and contrast major theories and concepts for analyzing the link between ideas, institutions and development.
• critically assess diverse challenges facing contemporary development.
• apply theories and concepts to contemporary cases in an independent research project
• enhance their communication skills through discussions, presentations and writing
• improve skills in collective learning and thinking through collaborative teamwork


  • Attendance & Participation 15%
  • Reading Reflections (5 x 5%) 25%
  • Midterm exam 15%
  • Group Presentation 15%
  • Research 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.



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 spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this 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 spring 2022 term.