Master of Arts Integrated Studies (MAIS) 635

Equality in Context (Revision 2)

**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


Masters of Arts-Integrated Studies 635: Equality in Context is a course that explores ideas about equality in the context of a number of scholarly disciplines, social movements, and globalization. Through an interdisciplinary approach that includes philosophy, sociology, political studies, environmental studies, and global studies, the course examines which equalities matter, who the recipients of equality are, and how ideas about equality can be put into practice in the global era.

In Part I of the course, we begin with some introductory ideas that will help students to understand the complexity of the concept of equality. We also look at which equalities matter in Canada, one of the most socially progressive countries in the world. Despite an impressive bill of rights, Canada has been unable to achieve anything more than formal equality for many of its citizens.

In Part II, we delve more explicitly into the dimensions of equality. Specifically, we look at the philosophical debates around Equality of what? and Equality of who? Here, we examine notions such as equality of opportunity, equality of treatment, equality of resources, and equality of welfare within the liberal philosophical tradition from which they emanate.

Then, in Part III, we turn to critiques of these liberal notions of equality, particularly in relation to how recognition of difference, including differences of nonhuman life, disrupts the proposed universality of liberal theories. We also examine the tensions that occur around equality because of group identity being created by structures that difference hopes to dismantle.

From there, in Part IV, it makes sense for us to explore how reorganization of structures that produce inequalities might be achieved.

Finally, in Part V, we turn to the state of equality and social justice in the global context.

Course Structure

MAIS 635: Equality in Context consists of five parts that comprise ten units.

    Part I: Which Equalities Matter?

    Week 1 Unit 1: Does Equality Matter any More?

    Week 2 Unit 2: Which Equalities Matter in Canada?

    Part II: Dimensions of Equality: Philosophical Debates

    Weeks 3 to 4 Unit 3: Equality of What?

    Week 5 Unit 4: Equality and Other Values: Justice, Liberty, Rights

    Part III: Equality and the Recognition of Differences

    Week 6 Unit 5: Complex Equality

    Weeks 7 to 8 Unit 6: Recognition of Differences

    Part IV: From Recognition to Reorganization

    Week 9 Unit 7: Contexts of Change

    Weeks 10 to 11 Unit 8: Putting Equality into Practice

    Part V: Global Equality

    Week 12 Unit 9: Globalization

    Weeks 13 to 14 Unit 10: Globalization and Equality

Course Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 per cent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Integrated Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Activity Weighting
Online Participation 20%
Online Journal 10%
Annotated Bibliography and Proposal 30%
Final Project 40%
Total 100%

Course Materials


  • Baker, John, Lynch, Kathleen, Cantillon, Sara, & Walsh, Judy. 2009. Equality: From theory to action. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hurrell, Andrew, & Woods, Ngaire, eds. 1999. Inequality, globalization, and world politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Phillips, Anne. 1999. Which equalities matter? Malden, MA: Polity Press/Blackwell Publishers.


Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will also find your Study Guide presented unit by unit online. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools:


Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, September 4, 2012

Updated April 29 2016 by SAS