The political achievements and struggles of the world’s greatest empires have been well-documented. Less explored have been the economic underpinnings of empire. How do kingdoms and nations become empires, what sustains them as such, and why do they decline and disintegrate? This course seeks to answer such questions from an economic point of view. Through reading and analyzing economic studies on the subject, we will explore how economics has reinforced and perpetuated hegemony, and the role it played in the decline of Rome and Britain, and the economic future of the United States.
The first part of the course will cover the Roman Empire (27 BC - 395 AD) and the British Empire (1607 AD – 1950 AD). Readings will cover an understanding of the economy, contemporary economic theories, and the interplay of the market economy with the political hegemony. Readings will drawn from classic sources like Adam Smith as well as more recent scholarship – most of the readings will be academic in nature, although some will be targeted towards the lay reader.
The second part of the course will analyze the post-World War II American experience. After surveying the post-War economic context, the readings will then cover the current world economic context and the United States’ role therein. American economic foreign policy initiatives will be analyzed, and students will provide an econometric analysis of a policy initiative of their choosing. The last segment of the course will cover globalization. The readings in this part of the course will span academic studies, economic literature targeting the lay reader, and business school case studies.
QUANTITATIVE LEVEL: 1
Course Requirements Class Participation (30%)
Class participation is of paramount importance in this readings- and discussion-based course. The students are expected to know the material well in each class, and come prepared to discuss each topic.
Furthermore, each student will lead discussion in one class of their choosing. They are expected to come prepared with a list of questions they want the class to discuss, and lead the discussion.
One unexcused absence is allowed per student, other such absences will negatively affect the class participation grade; students are expected to get permission from the professor for excused absences.
Response Paper (5%)
This 2-pg paper is to familiarize the student with the grading, and to address writing issues early in the course.
Short Response Papers (20%)
These three one-page response papers seek to reinforce the students’ understanding of the Roman Empire and British Empire readings. These are due once a week, with Group 1 generally turning their papers in on Tuesday, and Group 2 on Thursday, in class. These will answer questions to be announced a week in advance of the deadline.
Empirical Exercise (15%)
This eight to ten page paper is to ease the students’ facility with real data, and to introduce them to quantitative analysis of American economic foreign policy initiatives. The students will choose their own foreign policy initiatives; sample topics will be provided.
Prospectus for Final Paper (5%)
This is a one-page summary of what the student seeks to research and analyze in the final paper. The prospectus should explain why the topic is important, lay out a basic framework of analysis, and place the research in context of existing literature on the topic.
Final Paper (25%)
The final paper will test the student’s understanding of the concepts discussed in the course. This is a twenty page research-based paper that should go beyond the material covered in the course.
Course Materials Along with the course pack, please buy the following books:
Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.
Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, W. W. Norton & Company, 2003.
The students will have to download, read, print, and bring to class readings that are available online. The schedule of readings provides URLs for these readings.
Note on Plagiarism All papers are expected to be a student’s own work. Students are urged to take great care in distinguishing their own ideas and thoughts from information and analysis derived from sources, with proper citations delineating that which is gleaned or quoted from other sources. Plagiarism will be dealt with according to University guidelines.
Rome, Britain, and America
Thucydides, “Pericles’ Funeral Oration,” 430 BC.
Available at: http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GREECE/PERICLES.HTM
Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” 1899.
Available at: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/Kipling.html