Economic History



ECON 611: Seminar in American Economic Development
Selected topics in the long-term movements of the American economy. The course focuses on one or two facets of American economic development and the interaction of political and economic forces that shaped the development. The 19th century is typically the chronological focus, although topics from the 18th and 20th century are considered occasionally. Recent classes have focused on constitutional development (1770-1850), banking (1790-1850), transportation infrastructure (1790-1900), and the interaction of democratic political institutions and government borrowing for infrastructure (1790-1850). .

ECON 613: Origins and Development of Capitalism
Economics 613 does focus on the origins and development of capitalism, with particular attention over the last few years has been on the "Theory of the State." The course combines elements of political economy, institutional economics, economic history, political history, and political science to understand the transition to "modern" economies that began about 200 years ago. The transition was both economic and political and the focus of the readings and the class is to understand the deeper interaction between economics and politics. Readings in recent years have included Doug North, Mancur Olson, Acemoglu & Robinson, Robert Bates, and the work of Wallis, North and Weingast.

Field Requirements in Economic History

Field requirements in economic history are different from other fields. There is a lot to learn and the field cannot be mastered through models and applications. Students taking the field as a major or minor typically take 611 and 613 (when offered), as well as a readings course (labelled ECON 698) with the history faculty. For a major field, if 611 or 613 are not offered, the third course can be chosen from another field in consultation with the history faculty. Readings focus on a different theme each semester. Students typically meet every other week with faculty. Most students are ready to take a field exam at the end of the third year. The only difference between the major and minor field is the amount of reading. Aside from general readings, topics covered are geared to the interests of the students (geographically and topically). The field exam is given when the student is ready and is tailored to the topics covered by the student's reading.

Average grade of B+ or better in courses.