Spring 2023 - IS 220 D100

Wealth and Poverty of Nations (3)

Class Number: 4980

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Fri, 12:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 15, 2023
    Sat, 8:30–11:30 a.m.



Analyzes some of the historical reasons for the great divergence in world economic development, and undertakes a cross-country, cross-regional perspective of world economic development using a historical approach to long-run economic growth. Breadth-Social Sciences.


Global inequalities in wealth and poverty are defining features of the world today. Whether measured within or between countries of the global South and global North, inequalities of wealth, development, and carbon output all weigh heavily on prospects for continued human life on Earth. But how can we begin to define such inequalities, understand patterns of continuity and change in them over time, and explain what has caused these patterns to occur? What implications do these inequalities have for global climate change – arguably the most fundamental environmental and existential problem currently faced by humanity – and prospects for effectively addressing it? And what possible solutions are both desirable and practical for addressing such inequalities? This course adopts a historically-informed, social scientific lens to probe such questions regarding continuity and change in such inequalities of economic and social development since the early 20th century. It is required for students pursuing the “International development, economic, and environmental issues” concentration of SFU’s International Studies major. As such, we explore evidence and canonical theories regarding the concentration’s three main themes and the light they shed on such questions.


By the end of the course, students: 

• gain a substantive introduction to contemporary patterns of global inequality in wealth, development, and carbon output; 
• gain familiarity with social scientific arguments about such patterns and their historical roots; 
• develop skills in synthesizing such arguments through writing; 
• develop skills in assessing such arguments through analytic writing 


  • Tutorial attendance and participation 10%
  • Papers 20%
  • Exam #1 35%
  • Exam #2 35%


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.



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