McAfee - IR728 International Political Economy

Syllabus for Guidance - IR728 International Political Economy (Spring 2012)

Kathleen McAfee


Required texts:

SFSU bookstore or online. One or two additional books may be added later.

Ha-Joon Chang (2010) 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism Bloomsbury Press 978-1608191666 (hardcover) 978-1608193387 (paper Jan. 2012) $15

Raymond C. Miller 2008 International Political Economy: Contrasting World Views Routledge 978-0415384094 $45 new

Martin Wolf (2005) Why Globalization Works Press Yale Nota Bene 978-0300107777 $18

Joseph Stiglitz 2010 Freefall: America, Free Markets, & the Sinking of the World Economy Norton

978-0393338959 $12 (Be sure to get paperback edition, which has an epilogue.)

J. K. Gibson-Graham 2006 A Postcapitalist Politics 978-0816648047 $26 new

Additional reading TBA will be posted on iLearn

Recommended supplementary texts and collections:

(Most are also available used.)

Peter Dicken 2007 5th edition Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the Global Economy Guilford 978-1593854362 - entire book is a great reference. We will read only one chapter.

David Harvey 2005 A Brief History of Neoliberalism Oxford University Press $12

David Harvey 2011 The Enigma of Capital 2nd ed. Oxford University Press $11

Dollars & Sense Collective 2010 The Economic Crisis Reader 2nd ed. 978-1-878585-84-4 $35 William Tabb 2004 Economic Governance in the Age of Globalization Colombia Univ. Press $37 Richard Peet 2005 Geography of Power: Making Global Economic Policy Zed Books 978-1842777114 $29

Useful references for people who haven’t studied international political economy or IR in the past:

Any other Dollars & Sense collections such as Real World Globalization (

R. O’Brien & M. Williams 2010 Global Political Economy 3rd ed. Palgrave/MacMillan $40 978-0230241213

Balaam and Veseth 4th ed. 2007 Introduction to International Political Economy Pearson/Prentice Hall $60


This seminar has both empirical and theoretical content. It is designed to provide an overview of:

(a) the recent history and the present global economy: who makes what and where, who consumes what and where, who owes whom and how much, transnational firms and the globalization of production, and what policies have affected all this. This is the main purpose of week 1, when we’ll read chapters 1 & 2 of the 2007 edition of Global Shift by the economic geographer Peter Dicken.

(b) an introduction to IPE through reading and discussion of theoretically informed analyses of globalization, economic growth, inequality, global economic governance, the options facing would-be developing countries, and the debates about these issues, from a range of viewpoints.

There will be 100-300 pages of required reading most weeks, some fairly easy, some rather dense. Most of the assigned and recommended literature is current, by authors trained in political economy and economics (Miller, Chang), economic geography (Dicken, Harvey, and Peet), and political science and economics (Tabb, Stiglitz, etc. in the supplementary book list).

What you learn from the seminar depends above all on the time and work you put into reading and analyzing this material. You’ll also learn from the written and in-class contributions of your classmates, with some guidance from me.

People with little background in political economy may want to get a textbook such as O’Brien and Williams 2007 2nd ed. 2006 Global Political Economy Palgrave, or Balaam and Veseth 4th ed. 2007 Introduction to International Political Economy as a reference. (If you purchase O’Brien & Williams, please buy it from a source other than the SFSU bookstore so IR312 students can get their copies of this textbook.) The Dicken text is also a really useful overview and reference tool.

There will be no examinations. You will be graded on the number and quality of your weekly questions or commentaries on the reading posted on the Ilearn course web page, (20%), your class presentations (20%), your contributions to class discussion (20%), and your final report (40%). I am providing fairly strict guidelines and time limits or word limits for commentaries, class presentations, and final papers.

Each participant will give (probably, depending on number of students) about 4 short, informal but well-prepared presentations: several on chapters from the reading and 1 the topic of your paper. Presentations on the readings are meant to focus our class discussion. Presentations should take no longer than 10 minutes; shorter is better: aim for 5 minutes.

A good presentation will summarize the author’s main points and line of reasoning, briefly mention unstated assumptions, strengths, weaknesses, evidence or lack thereof for his/her argument, briefly point out how that argument confirms or contrasts with other readings, theories, or cases, and note some implications of the reading with regard to broader themes of the course. Written handouts to accompany your presentation are helpful but should not exceed 1 page.

The in-class presentations on your draft final papers during one of the last four class meetings should not exceed 10-15 minutes, to allow time for questions and discussion. The sooner you choose and begin working on your chosen topic, the better. The information you are gathering can enrich our discussions.

Weekly questions or commentaries by seminar participants must be posted on iLearn before class. To earn full credit, you should post at least 7 commentaries for the 10 weeks from 2-9 & 10. The earlier before class that you can post your commentaries the better. After you post your own, check what others have written.

For weeks 2 - 5: in about 200 - 250 words, you are expected to: (a) propose a question for class discussion about the reading.

(b) explain why you think the question is significant: e.g., what is difficult to understand about something the author has written, or how it conflicts with or confirms other things you’ve read, or how it may be germane to real-world political-economic events or policy debates or conflicts.

For weeks 6 - 10: in about 300 words, you are expected to: (a) summarize the salient points of the reading, as if you were writing a short review;

(b) mention 1 or 2 points about how the data or the author’s argument supports or opposes points made by other analysts you have read in this class or elsewhere;

The final seminar paper will be an extended book review, informed by class readings and related other literature of your choice, of a book, or a comparison of two books, that you choose with my approval. I can suggest books but you’re encouraged to consider others and ask for my input.

The review should be about 4000 words long, well-documented with citations and list of references and well-written. In it, you will critically assess the author's premises, argument, evidence, and conclusion in light of the themes of the seminar. During one of the last three classes, you’ll present your review orally and get our feedback. Whether you use presentation software, or a handout, or words alone for the presentation is up to you.

Final review should be submitted in MSWord or a compatible format (not pdf) by email to on or before the 2nd Monday following your oral presentation.


Schedule changes and other announcements will be sent to the address you use when you enroll. If you use a different email address, be sure to have your SFSU email forwarded to that address and check it regularly. I will try to answer your e-mailed questions, but if you use more than one address, it’s hard to keep track of how to reach you. Whenever you write to us, put IR728 in the subject line of your message.

Plagiarism will result at least in failure of the assignment and possibly failure of the class or expulsion from the university. For more information about what constitutes plagiarism see or

Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Programs and Resource Center facilitates this process. The DPRC, in SSB 110, can be reached by telephone at 338-2724 (voice/TTY) or by e-mail at

The topic of political economy is inevitably controversial – and should be! Economic policies and processes affect the lives of billions and the future of the planet. All authors, professors, and students have different values and experiences that influence our thinking. I hope to hear a variety of views in class. We’ll listen to each others’ opinions with respect. I don’t expect consensus or conformity with my own ideas. I do expect us to present our ideas as cogently as we can, with reference to supporting evidence and arguments whenever possible.

That said, I recognize that some students have a lot more background in these topics than others. If you don’t understand something, speak up! It’s nearly certain that are you are not the only one. A well-put question is even more valuable than a self-confident answer.

The syllabus is always subject to change, but with notice. I will add few articles or books and/or subtract some selections as we see how things go.