Global Studies (GLST) 652

Democracy and Justice in the Context of Global Capitalism (Revision 3)

GLST 652 Course Cover

View previous syllabus

Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: It is recommended that students successfully complete either MAIS 601 or MAIS 602, or have completed a senior level undergraduate theory course before enrolling in GLST 652.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Program: Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies

**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.**


Welcome to Global Studies 652: Democracy and Justice in the Context of Global Capitalism

The purpose of this course is to develop conceptual critical tools with which to frame, assess, and philosophically understand the emerging global system in which we find ourselves and that increasingly forms the unavoidable context of any nation-state. The course is divided into three main parts:

  1. Part I will provide grounding in modern political philosophy, up to and including twentieth-century critical theory.
  2. Part II will take up more explicitly the part that multinational corporations, vis-à-vis nation-states, play with respect to the contemporary issues of freedom and legitimacy that are raised in Part I of the course. We will explore new political and philosophical categories, and we will discuss their usefulness in framing the current global political context.
  3. Part III will turn explicitly toward the normative grounding of political categories and will revisit questions about the source of obligation and legitimacy that were first raised in Part I. We will readdress the modernist problem of determining criteria of legitimacy for the political order in terms of the contemporary global situation, and we will examine and evaluate possibilities for genuine universality in a globalized and multicultural context.

Course Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you will be able to

  1. explain and critically evaluate the major conceptual categories developed by some of the historically important political philosophers in the modernist tradition.
  2. recognize the major conceptual categories at work in both philosophical and non-philosophical discourses about globalization, and critically assess these discourses.
  3. evaluate critically the relevance of these major conceptual categories to the contemporary global context.
  4. question what is necessary to constitute the legitimacy of the state and its laws, and progress toward answering those questions.
  5. raise critical questions about the relation between commerce and civil society, and about the legitimate limits of corporate activity, and progress toward answering those questions.
  6. understand and articulate some of the ways in which the modern liberal concept of freedom has given a certain appearance of legitimacy to corporate activity in the global market.
  7. evaluate critically modernity and its assumptions, and raise questions about the adequacy of the modern liberal paradigm of freedom and the liberal democratic state in a global context.
  8. articulate clearly, explain, and critically evaluate the major conceptual categories at work in some of the more recent political philosophies.
  9. articulate, in terms of these categories, some of the problems posed to democratic participation by globalization.
  10. articulate and critically evaluate, in terms of a coherent political philosophy, various responses to problems posed to democratic participation by globalization.
  11. develop a thesis stating what categories, concepts, and paradigms are most useful in the context of global capitalism and defend this thesis with sound arguments that are well-grounded in the tradition of political philosophy while looking ahead to the future in terms of what needs to be thought and done.

Course Outline

  • Part I: From Modernity to the Critique of Capitalism
  • Part II: Democratic Participation in the Context of Global Capitalism
  • Part III: The Decline of the Nation-State and the Foundation of the Political Order

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must achieve a final mark of at least 60 percent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Interdisciplinary 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.

Course Activity Weighting
Study questions 20%
Midterm essay 30%
Final research paper or website 50%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The course materials for Global Studies 652: Democracy and Justice in the Context of Global Capitalism may vary from year to year depending upon the instructor. The authors studied in the course may include Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Hegel from classical political theory as well as Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Zizek, and other contemporary cutting edge theorists. If you find that any items are missing from your course materials package, please contact Course Materials Production of Athabasca University at (780) 675-6366, or 1-800-788-9041, ext. 6366 (toll-free from anywhere within Canada and the United States). You may also write to Course Materials Production, Tim Byrne Centre, 4001 Hwy 2 South, Athabasca AB T9S 1A4; or direct your e-mail to

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 3, May 1, 2010.