Summer 2020 - POL 131 D900

Politics of Prosperity and Inequality (3)

Class Number: 4042

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 17, 2020
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    Location: TBA



Introduces how politics shapes economic inequality and development. Focuses on how government policy and the struggle for power offer solutions to major social and economic problems. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


Course Description:

Concerns about global poverty and inequality have been a primary component of the international development agenda especially, with the formulation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Yet, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase daily. This course introduces students to the politics of poverty and inequality in the mainly developed global North and global South countries. Part I provides a comprehensive review of the narrow vs. broad, absolute vs. relative, objective vs. subjective conceptualizations of poverty and relates these broad categorizations to the social origins of inequality. Part II identifies the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality using the mainstream theories of political economy such as liberalism, structuralism, Marxism, and critical theory. Part III will analyze the commitments (policy responses) of governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, charity organizations, and private foundations to manage, reduce, or eradicate the humanitarian consequences of extreme poverty, hunger, and inequality. We will draw on selected cases of poverty and inequality in Africa, Asia, and the Americas to illustrate key terms, concepts, and debates.

Schedule: There will be a two-hour lecture each week and one-hour tutorials.


  • Participation 10%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Midterm Exam 25%
  • Research Essay 25%
  • Final Exam 25%



Benjamin, C., & Cosgrove, S. (2018). Understanding Global Poverty: Causes, Capabilities, and Human Development. Routledge. (pbk)
ISBN: 978-1-138-23077-4

Hume, D. (2015): Global Governance and poor people in the post-2015 era. Routledge.
ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-138-8268

Additional texts will be available on canvas.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course 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.

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 ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.