• Length:
    6 Weeks
  • Effort:
    3–5 hours per week
  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Introductory
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English
  • Course Type:
    Instructor-led on a course schedule

Prerequisites

None

About this course

Skip About this course
Since the global financial crisis of 2008, there has been an explosion of interest in the history of capitalism. Some narratives focus on enormous waste, environmental destruction, overpowered corporations, exploitation of workers, or outrageous inequality. Others are more positive, telling a story about unparalleled prosperity, longer life expectancies, integration of markets, connectivity among peoples, and poverty alleviation.

In this course, we emphasize the complexity of capitalism over such neat narratives. By looking at capitalism through a global lens, we investigate multiple types of explanations and impacts on local, national, regional and global levels. We also examine a range of different topics deeply connected to the evolution of capitalism; including labor relations, migration, commodities, consumption, finance, war, imperialism, development, energy, and the environment.

Some of the questions we will discuss in this course are:
  • How is capitalism related to globalization?
  • What are the important institutions of global capitalism?
  • How can we understand consumption and capitalism by following the production, supply and demand chains of commodities like rubber, sugar or petroleum?
  • What is the role of the state in the development of capitalism, and is there a relationship between capitalism and empire?
  • Is global capitalism environmentally sustainable?
  • Why did some countries industrialize, while others didn’t?
  • Why do labor markets develop?
  • Is there an inherent tension between capitalism and democracy?

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How to identify major turning points and processes in the global history of capitalism.
  • Key concepts and events in the history of capitalism such as commodity, globalization, and the role of the state and other institutions such as OPEC.
  • How to engage critically with short, but significant, pieces of writing on economic, social, and political trends in the twentieth century. 
  • Ways to analyze and discuss some of the major topics in the history of capitalism with learners from around the world.

Meet your instructors

Teal Arcadi
Ph.D. candidate in History
Princeton University
Caitlin Harvey
Ph.D. candidate in History
Princeton University
Rob Konkel
Ph.D. candidate in History
Princeton University
Felice Physioc
Ph.D. candidate in History
Princeton University