Requires ECON 1200 or both ECON 1201 and 1202.
This course examines the sources of challenging issues facing modern societies, such as inequality, racism, sexism, and armed conflict. You will learn pathbreaking approaches that inform our understanding of these issues by revealing their historical roots and the channels that transmitted these roots to today.
The course will consist of three parts. In the first part, we will survey a brief economic history of the World, our long journey from a period in which human life was “nasty, brutish, and short,” to highly developed modern societies with vastly higher but unequal living standards. The second part will examine the origins of our journey by differentiating between the proximate reasons and deep roots of today’s problems and the channels of transmission between the past and present. We will study the relative importance of institutions, culture, geographic endowment, agricultural history, and human diversity. In the third part, we will apply these insights to examine the deep roots of some of the important problems facing modern societies.
Each student will choose a geographic region of the world and one topic from each of the three parts of the course. These choices will guide your individual research and exploration and be the basis for your writing and presentation assignments. You will have the opportunity to contribute to class discussion from the perspective of your region and topics.