Spring 2022 - SA 302W D100

Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (SA) (4)

Class Number: 2743

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Mon, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Amanda Watson
    Office Hours: Thursdays, 2:30pm, Zoom



An introduction to the political economy and culture of capitalism in relation to global problems. Case studies may focus on issues of population, famine, disease, poverty, environmental destruction, social inequality, and nation-state violence. Resistance, rebellion and social movements in response to these problems also will be addressed. Writing/Breadth-Social Sci.


Explore a series of intersecting global problems produced and maintained by capitalist modes of production and related values and feelings. Use citational strategies and dynamic  writing to explain how different social groups are imbricated in the global culture of capitalism. Consider how global problems are produced and where and by whom they are most  acutely felt. Reflect on how, in the midst of interlocking global crises, capitalist culture is enforced and resisted. Think through deeply connected issues of colonial violence, marginal workers, consumerism, alienation, corporate charity, racial ableism, the global care chain, migration, and climate emergency. Practice different writing techniques with feedback  from peers, a graduate student TA, and the instructor.

Course Format
This course is offered in a Blended Learning format. Blended Learning integrates asynchronous (not live) online activities and face-to-face instruction to offer students increased  flexibility for their demanding schedules and an accessible way to approach new ideas in the curriculum. Students engage in online activities such as practice quizzes, videocasts,  and simulations, and attend face-to-face instruction biweekly (every other week).

Week 1 Module 1 Online activities and readings
Week 2 Module 1 In-classroom (BBY) Monday
Week 3 Module 2 Online activities and readings
Week 4 Module 2 In-classroom (BBY) Monday
Week 5 Module 3 Online activities and readings
Week 6 Module 3 In-classroom (BBY) Monday
Week 7 Module 4 Online activities and readings
Week 8 Module 4 In-classroom (BBY) Monday
Week 9 Module 5 Online activities and readings
Week 10 Module 5 In-classroom (BBY) Monday
Week 11 Module 6 Online activities and readings
Week 12 Module 6 In-classroom (BBY) Monday


It is my aim that in completing this course, students will be comfortable:

  • Explaining concrete global problems in terms of their general and abstract connections to capitalist processes and intersectional theories of political economy
  • Analyzing a current affairs moment or event in terms of its framing, implied values, and stakes for particular groups
  • Critiquing movements or campaigns that appear to advocate ethical consumption or social justice aims and generate good feelings
  • Summarizing and distinguishing capitalism as an economic system and a cultural value system
  • Writing clearly and with feeling about the relationship between global problems (e.g. responses to COVID-19 like vaccine nationalism, anti-mask conspiracies, unequal access to paid sick days) and capitalist culture


  • Reflective essay 1 8%
  • Weekly responses (4 x 8%) 32%
  • Research essay course project (divided into four parts):
  • 1. Essay proposal 15%
  • 2. Case description 15%
  • 3. Intro paragraphs to research essay + case description + detailed outline FIRST draft with peer review 15%
  • 4. Intro paragraphs to research essay + case description + detailed outline SECOND/FINAL DRAFT 15%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T20.01), and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10‐S10.05). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

The Sociology and Anthropology Student Union, SASU, is a governing body of students who are engaged with the department and want to build the SA community. Get involved!  Follow Facebook and Instagram pages or visit our website.



  • Access to a computer and/or other electronic device that will allow you to write and upload assignments in Canvas and do some interactive online activities in the Canvas shell,  including posting video and streaming video and audio
  • Access to an internet connection
  • Microsoft Word for all assignment submissions (available to all students for free)


Robbins, R. H. and Dowty, R. A. (2019). Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, 7th Edition. New York: Pearson.

Print ISBN: 978-0-134732794
VitalSource ebook ISBN: 978-0-134737751

Additional required readings will be available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or online as noted.

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.