CornellX: HIST1514x: American Capitalism: A History

School: CornellX
Course Code: HIST1514x
Classes Start: 17 Mar 2014
Course Length: 8 weeks
Estimated effort: 4 hours per week.

Prerequisites:

A familiarity with U.S. history would be helpful.

CornellX: HIST1514x - American Capitalism: A History

American Capitalism: A History

Examine how economic development fueled the United States’ evolution from 13 backwater colonies to a global power.

About this Course

Perhaps no story is as essential to get right as the history of capitalism. Nearly all of our theories about promoting progress come from how we interpret the economic changes of the last 500 years. This past decade’s crises continue to remind us just how much capitalism changes, even as its basic features—wage labor, financial markets, private property, entrepreneurs—endure. While capitalism has a global history, the United States plays a special role in that story. This course will help you to understand how the United States became the world’s leading economic power, revealing essential lessons about what has been and what will be possible in capitalism’s on-going revolution.  

Ways to take this edX course:

Simply Audit this Course

Audit this course for free and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.

or

Try for a Certificate

Looking to test your mettle? Participate in all of the course's activities and abide by the edX Honor Code. If your work is satisfactory, you'll receive a personalized certificate to showcase your achievement.

Course Staff

  • Edward E. Baptist

    Edward E. Baptist

    Edward Baptist is an associate professor in the Department of History at Cornell University. His scholarship is centered on the 19th-century United States and, more broadly, the creation of the modern world. One specific research focus is the massive growth of slavery in the United States between the American Revolution and the Civil War, an expansion that shaped the emergence of both American and global capitalism. He teaches a wide variety of courses on U.S. political history, the history of slavery, and, of course, the history of American capitalism.

    Baptist studied at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and received his PhD in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997.

  • Louis Hyman

    Louis Hyman

    Louis Hyman is an assistant professor in the Department of Labor Relations, Law, and History at Cornell University. His research interests focus on the history of capitalism in the United States. His first book, Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink, focuses on the history of the political economy of debt; the book was selected as one of the 2011 Choice Top 25 Outstanding Books of the Year. His second book, Borrow: The American Way of Debt, explains how American culture shaped finance and, in turn, how finance shaped culture. 

    A former Fulbright scholar, Hyman earned a BA in history and mathematics at Columbia University, and received his PhD in American history in 2007 from Harvard University. 

Syllabus

Topics:

  • Introduction: Considering Capitalism Historically
  • Capitalism Comes to America: 1492–1787
  • Making Capitalism American: 1787–1877
  • Making American Capitalism Corporate: 1877–1945
  • Making American Capitalism Global: 1945–2008
  • Conclusion: Assessing Capitalism Historically

Prerequisites

A familiarity with U.S. history would be helpful.

FAQs

Do I need to have taken economics before?

No. Though there will be discussion of economic ideas, professors will assume no prior economic training.

I am not familiar with American history, but I am interested in how capitalism works. Can I take this course?

Yes. We will have relevant links to helpful background material for each section that should make it possible for those with no knowledge of U.S. history to take the class.

Is this class about economic thought like Smith, Marx, Ricardo, Hayek, etc.?

This class is primarily about what actually happened rather than theories of what happened. While we will touch on important economic thinkers, this class will focus more on the people and institutions that developed capitalism in the United States. If you want to know how capitalism works and came about, this is the class for you.

Will certificates be awarded?

Yes. If you complete the work and achieve a passing grade in the course, you can earn a Honor Code Certificate, which indicates that you have completed the course successfully. Certificates will be issued by edX under the name of CornellX, designating the institution from which the course originated.

Course Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Describe the development of American capitalism as a historical process that emerged from political choices, business cultures, entrepreneurial decisions, and technological transformations.
  • Recognize and criticize the policy programs derived from different analyses of capitalism.
  • Describe how government policies contribute to market success and failure.
  • Exercise reading, writing, and analytical skills vital to historical interpretation.
  • Display a critical sense of how capitalism is not a static economic system but changes over time.