Canada and the "Third World"

DEVS 100/6.0

Introduces basic theoretical concepts of development studies, the history of global inequality, and short histories of alternative development strategies. Case studies of Canada's ties to the so-called third world will include missionaries, military, business, and aid. Canadian colonialism over First Nations peoples will introduce basic issues in Aboriginal Studies.


This course offers a comprehensive introduction to the field of development studies. It provides students with the initial tools necessary to engage with difficult questions about global development.

  • What is the so called Third World, Fourth World, Global South or “majority world”?
  • Why are some countries so rich while others are so poor?
  • Why are there seemingly intractable pockets of poverty within otherwise wealthy communities?
  • What is development, anyway, and how do we get there?

To begin to engage these questions, the course examines the core perspectives and debates in development thinking and practice mainly since 1950s. We start with analysis of the evolution of development theory and practice, contextualized historically. Using case studies from different parts of the world, we then examine the impacts that key theories about ‘creating development’ have had when put into practice.

The latter part of the course focuses specifically on various aspects of Canada’s relationship to the “Third World.”  Canada’s mixed record as a colonial power over First Nations peoples will also introduce students to basic issues in Aboriginal Studies. From this basis, we can reflect upon the complexities, ambiguities and contradictions found beneath popular stereotypes of Canadian “niceness” or support for “Third World” aspirations. What choices might Canadian citizens take to shape their relationship with the “Third World” in the future?

The course will include weekly tutorial interaction through Moodle-based discussion groups designed to allow students to analyze and reflect on key topics covered in the course with smaller groups of their peers. The course will also make substantial use of documentary films to supplement and illustrate the materials covered in course readings and online course notes.

Learning Outcomes

On completing this full credit course, it is expected that students will have a good understanding of the following:

  1. The main perspectives and debates in development thinking in order to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses as explanatory frameworks of development and underdevelopment in the "Third World"
  2. The usefulness of employing inter-disciplinary approaches to better engage the problems of development and underdevelopment
  3. The competing perspectives on development and how they are connected to particular periods, political interests and concerns
  4. Key issues in contemporary development, including Canada's place in international development
  5. The academic skills needed to succeed in development studies; including tutorial participation, essay and exam writing, and the presentation of complex ideas and arguments


*Subject to Change

Participation = 10%

Your grade is based on informed and timely engagement with the course materials in your online tutorial discussion group. This includes the completion of specific requested tasks and engagement with some of your peers’ contributions. You are expected to make your initial post dealing with the week’s discussion questions by Thursday morning. You will not see other student’s comments until you have posted your own. Your participation in follow up discussion must be completed by Monday morning to count towards your participation grade. There is no set number of posts each week. You must engage with the week’s discussion questions and the ideas presented by your peers. We value contributions that engage thoughtfully with the course materials, ask interesting questions, and generally move the discussion forward. We will be emphasizing quality more than quantity when grading participation.

Mid-Term = 15%

Take home exam delivered and submitted electronically.

Quizzes 2 x 10% = 20% Timed multiple choice quizzes administered online through Moodle.

Research Paper

You are free to choose ANY topic related to the themes being dealt with in the course; however the paper must include some kind of Canadian context (Canadian government, business, NGO, citizen, etc. involvement or official stance on the issue). This assignment consists of a proposal and a final paper.

Proposal = 10%

Your proposal must have a working title, a short description of your topic, a brief synopsis of the controversies surrounding the topic, and a tentative outline of your paper all written in paragraph form. It should be 500 words (approximately 2 pages) long and have an attached bibliography with a minimum of six sources, at least three of which must be academic journal articles. The proposal will allow us to determine if the paper that you are planning to write is appropriate for the course and is doable within the allotted time. Papers may not be submitted without a pre-approved proposal.

Paper = 25%

The paper should identify the relevant controversies and issues surrounding the topic and provide a critical analysis with a clear argument. Avoid vague, general papers, and select a topic specific enough to be handled in a brief essay. The paper should be 8 to 10 pages, double-spaced and must use a minimum of 10 sources. The majority of your sources should be scholarly articles, but you can also consult books, journalism and official documents. Sources should be cited according to standard scholarly conventions (see the section on Essay Format below). NB. Wikipedia is not an acceptable academic reference.

Final Exam = 20%

Essay Format

All submissions must be double-spaced, 12cpi Times New Roman. The Department of Sociology at Queen's has prepared a very thorough Style and Reference Guide for Undergraduate essays (PDF). We strongly recommend that you adhere to its advice about writing, particularly the points about reification, thesis statements, wordiness, quotations, and assumptions. We require that you follow the bibliographic style and in‐text referencing format outlined in the above guide. Make use of footnotes (not endnotes) only for explanatory purposes, e.g., to clarify a point that would otherwise clutter the text or interrupt the flow of your argument; or to note an apparent political slant in your source.

Final Examination

Take home exam delivered and submitted electronically.




1Introduction to the Course and the Idea of Development
2Orientalism and Development
3Theories of Development: Modernization to Neo-Liberalism
4Rethinking Development: Culture, Gender, and Post Development
5Imperialism, Colonialism and Independence
6Legacies of Colonialism
7Debt Crisis and the Rise of Global Institutions
8Globalization TNC Capital Mobility, Labour Mobility and the Third World
9Canadian Foreign Policy and Corporate Behaviour
10Development Assistance, NGOs and the Evolution of Canadian Foreign Aid Policy
11Indigenous People and Development (The Fourth World)
12Where do we go from Here?

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 15 - 18 hours per week on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
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How does this affect my academics?
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Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
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Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.