Spring 2021 - IS 329 D100

Special Topics in International Development, Economic and Environmental Issues (4)

Latin America

Class Number: 5870

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 11:20 AM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Specific details of courses to be offered will be published prior to enrollment each term.


This course is a weekly seminar on contemporary Latin America. It aims to build a basic understanding of continuity and change in relationships between the economies, societies, and politics of Latin American countries during the contemporary era. As a region characterized by considerable political volatility, trenchant inequalities, and dynamic social movements, Latin American countries offer insightful perspectives on themes such as the collapse of military rule, transitions to representative democracy, and the experience of and response to neoliberalism. Drawing on multidisciplinary readings from the social sciences and history, the course has three parts that explore these and other themes in specific countries. First, we assess general historical trends, including colonial legacies, critical political junctures of the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. imperialism, the emergence of authoritarian regimes in the 1960s and 1970s, transitions to democracy and economic liberalization during the 1980s and 1990s, the commodity boom-fueled “left turn” of the 2000s, and the post-2015 rise of right wing governments. Secondly, we consider case-studies of these and related themes in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Finally, we explore recent issues related to inequality, social movements, social policy, and the interplay between social media and recent election campaigns and outcomes.


By the end of the course, students:
• gain substantive knowledge about contemporary Latin American politics, society, and economy
• gain familiarity with social scientific arguments about contemporary Latin America;
• improve skills in synthesizing such arguments through writing;
• improve skills in analyzing such arguments through writing;


  • Class Participation 10%
  • Discussion Posts 30%
  • Writing Assignments 60%


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.


Remote learning for this semester requires the following:
a reliable internet connection.
access to a computer and/or other electronic device, such as a tablet. Most laptops run OSX and Windows. Tablets may be Android, iOS, or Windows-based.
speakers and a microphone on your computer/device. Headsets with headphones and a microphone are advised but not necessary
Microsoft Office software. You can access a free version of Office 365 here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.
• You will need to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.
• Access to Zoom is free and available here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/videoconferencing/zoom.html



Peter H. Smith, James Green, and Thomas Skidmore. 2018. Modern Latin America, 9th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

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.

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 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment 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. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

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 (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).