Fall 2023 - IS 350W D100

Seminar on Global Problems in Interdisciplinary Perspective (4)

Class Number: 4547

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Fri, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units. International Studies major or honours students.



An in-depth examination of select global problems. Focuses on developing policy-related writing skills valuable for careers in government and in intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations. Assignments may include: briefing papers, policy papers, grant writing, and op-ed essays. Students with credit for IS 450W may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


This course is designed to focus on the skills and applications of research and writing that are relevant beyond academia, and which IS students will likely encounter across governmental, nongovernmental, and private sectors. Much of this work involves researching, over a relatively short period of time, what has been written about a specific topic or problem and organizing key arguments about it, often going so far as to think through and develop arguments in favour of a particular course of action. This kind of work requires clarity of purpose, the capacity to identify and synthesize key ideas, and economical and authoritative writing.

Students will develop a diverse set of research and writing skills through three assignments. These assignments are of the type that students of International Studies may expect to be asked to take up in their professional careers: Op-Eds, literature reviews, and interviews. 


There are only a few assigned readings, all of which will be made available through the library or Canvas. Students will be expected, with guidance, to identify relevant research sources, and to draw extensively on web-based materials, including ‘grey literature’ (e.g. the literature produced by international organizations, research institutions, policy think-tanks, etc.) and, when relevant, news media.


In completing this course, students will refine their ability to research, structure, and write various different kinds of written deliverables: opinion pieces, literature reviews, and policy papers. 


  • Op-ed 30%
  • Literature Review 30%
  • Policy paper 30%
  • Participation 10%



All required readings will be provided by links or on Canvas.


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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.