Fall 2023 - IS 451 D100

Seminar on Core Texts in International Studies (4)

Class Number: 4610

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Thu, 11:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    90 units. International Studies major or honours students.



An interdisciplinary course which aims to bring together different disciplinary perspectives on international affairs through the study of influential texts which, between them, involve study of core themes to the program: development, governance and civil society, war and peace, human rights and questions of culture and ethnicity.


Although international studies lacks an established cannon, this course offers a close examination of “core texts” that some scholars might consider central within the field. More specifically, we will read and analyze these texts in order to sharpen our knowledge of relevant themes both within and across the three concentrations of SFU’s major in international studies: 1) international development, economic and environmental issues; 2) international security and conflict; and 3) comparative world politics, culture and society. By gaining familiarity with and scrutinizing these texts, we aim to identify both important contributions, as well as deficits and oversights within these realms of knowledge in international studies. These core texts allow us to explore major questions, including the following: What are the causes and consequences of contemporary development and inequality within and between countries of the Global North and the South? What is the nature of security in a contemporary world characterized by the stark and likely growing possibility of nuclear war and ecological collapse? What kinds of political and social responses are most promising for addressing trenchant colonial legacies of inequality and poverty, as well as existential threats of nuclear war and climate crisis?


By the end of the course, students:

  • • gain substantive knowledge of key research themes in international studies;
  • • gain exposure to arguments from different disciplinary approaches to international studies
  • • improve skills in synthesizing such arguments through analytic writing;
  • • improve skills in assessing such arguments through analytic writing;


  • Critical Discussion Papers 25%
  • Responses to Discussion Papers 5%
  • Writing Exercise #1 30%
  • Writing Exercise #2 30%
  • Class Participation 10%


Remote learning for this semester requires the following:
• You will need to access some course materials and upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.
• Microsoft Office software. You can access a free version of Office 365 here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.



Chomsky, Noam and Robert Pollin. 2020. Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet. London: Verso.

Du Bois, W.E.B. 2014. The World and Africa and Color and Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. [although there are many versions of these texts, please use this version so that we can all refer to the same page numbers.]

Ellsberg, Daniel. 2017. The Doomsday Machine: Confession of a Nuclear War Planner. New York: Bloomsbury.

Harvey, David. 2007. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Piketty, Thomas. 2021. Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016-2021. New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press.

Zuboff, Shoshana. 2019. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. New York: Public Affairs.

In addition, we will read selected articles, book chapters, and other textual sources that will be available in digital form online through our Canvas website or through the SFU library website at www.lib.sfu.ca


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.