The course explores the historical process leading to the present. It combines the (material) history of economic development and crises since the early modern period with the sense-making process reflected in the evolution of economic thought and the formation of the scientific discipline we today know as economics since the eighteenth century. Its main aim is to understand path dependencies in economic development and the development of economic thought and therefore to provide students with a contextualization of the current state of the world economy and economic theory.
The course covers three main periods:
1) the world as we know it today and its immediate precedents since about 1920: challenges and crises of the interwar years, the systems competition during the Cold War and the (alleged) ‘End of History’ following the collapse of the Soviet Union and what came after it. In the history of economics this marks the evolution of modern macroeconomics marked by Keynes, the Neoclassical-Keynesian Synthesis and the rise of Monetarism.
2) The ‘long nineteenth century’: British industrial revolution, the ‘first globalization’ and the 'great specialization' between industrializing countries and raw material exporters. In the history of economics this period sees the birth of economics (or ‘political economy’) as a specialized discipline in the writings of Adams Smith, the French physiocrats, and Malthus, Ricardo and J.S. Mill, as well as alternative approaches to economic inquiry which were widespread in the 19th Century, but are not anymore today.
3) The decentralized world we left behind (before about 1750): economic growth was uncertain, trade was relatively unimportant and economic activity and innovation was strongly constraint by political, religious and resource boundaries. Economic thought at the end of this period (Malthus, Smith) deals with how to avoid misery under such conditions, while prior economic thought was generally embedded into wider philosophical and theological inquiries.
In the context of the degree, this course serves three aims: a) give an idea of the historical process leading to the present, b) discuss the sense-making process going on when at the time and shortly afterwards and c) see how this process affects, as environment to doing business, entrepreneurs and the decisions and the shape of firms. By this, it widens the intellectual horizon, opens the mind for thinking about ‘alternative paths’ (taken and not taken) and the interplay between economic, social, institutional processes and the environment.
After attending this course, students will be able to:
- Understand and explain the origin and evolution of world economy, the causes and consequences of industrialization and market integration/globalization.
- Understand and explain the historical development of the discipline of economics
- Discuss economic causes, effects and policies explaining and affecting economic development, industrialization and market integration in and between economies and societies
- Discuss specific cases/examples of the interplay between material historical developments and the challenges they present for scientific reasoning.
- Analyse and describe graphs with long-run empirical information and discuss their wider historical economic context and their connection to economic theory.
- Synthesize information from academic texts
The course will take place over 9 weeks with 1.5h+1h of class each week (and a 30 minute break in between). Participation in at least 75% of class hours, i.e. 7 out of 9 weeks of class, in order to pass the course successfully.
· Lectures by the instructor
· Discussion of historical experiences in economy and economics though a mix of presentational material (videos, texts, circulated powerpoint presentations)
· Discussion and selection of student questions based on pre-circulated materials and self-guided readings
Group-based development of a short instructional video to deepen on a specific aspect/question from the course (based on available/assigned materials and resources)
Necessary materials will be made available at learn@wu or with sufficient anticipation before the sessions. Students are requested to prepare for each class with the provided material on learn@wu following the indications be the instructor in these materials.
- Final exam: 60%. Exam-relevant materials consist of mandatory readings and the content of classes (teaching slides). The exam will be written and focuses on the ability to reproduce knowledge and apply it in specific analysis of cases in the history of economics and the economy.
- Instructional video: 30%. Students are required to develop (in groups of three) a technically simple 7-10 minute instructional video ‘essay’ that serves to deepen the understanding of one aspect of the history of economics and the economy covered in class. “Research questions” and reading materials can be taken from a list of topics or developed autonomously subject to approval by the instructor
- Short quizzes and other exercises in class: 10%
90% or more of the points: 1 (excellent)
80% or more: 2 (good)
70% or more: 3 (satisfactory)
60% or more: 4 (sufficient)
less than 60%: 5 (fail)
In class exercises can only be done if present in class. Instructional video has to be handed in by the deadline announced at the beginning of the course. None of the two can be repeated. The final exam will be offered for repetition at a later date. Students not handing in the instructional video and class exercises need 100% of the points to pass the course (since 100%*0.6=60%).
No prerequisites. Students not attending the first session (and not excusing themselves in advance) will be removed from the course list. The resulting spots will be filled with those students on the waiting last who are present in the first session in the order of their position on the waiting list.