ECON301: History of Economic Ideas

Course Syllabus for "ECON301: History of Economic Ideas"

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As a student of economics, you must study the history of economic thought to understand why individuals, firms, and governments make certain choices. Economists try to answer three basic questions: what to produce, how to produce it, and for whom. The history of economic thought represents a wide diversity of theories within the discipline, but all economists address these three basic questions. As you learn more about the history of economic thought, you may realize that policies presented as great innovations today are founded upon centuries-old writings. You will learn that without a clear sense of the discussions and debates that took place among economists of the past, the modern economist lacks a complete perspective. By examining the history of economic thought, you will be able to categorize and classify thoughts and ideas and will begin to understand how to think like an economist. Economics is both a social science and a business subject; accordingly, economic thinking affects everything from art to philosophy to the wider global culture. In turn, society and trends influence the development of economic thought. Note that many of the assigned readings in this course are primary source materials written by the economic theorists themselves. As you study the readings, reflect on the authors’ motivations and consider the events of the era. The readings in this class represent many different perspectives, and no single approach is favored.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • explain and analyze the development of economics as a discipline in various ancient cultures;
  • trace the development of European economic thought, and analyze concepts in historical context;
  • compare and contrast as well as discuss classical economic theories; and
  • synthesize the elements of neoclassical and Keynesian approaches in the modern era.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed the following courses from the Core Program of the economics discipline: ECON101: Principles of Microeconomics and ECON102: Principles of Macroeconomics.

Course Information

Welcome to ECON301: The History of Economic Thought! General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.

Course Designer: **** Tony Pizur

Peer Reviewers: **** This course was revised by Dr. Spyridon G. Patton with the helpful commentary and peer reviews of Dr. Rikard Bandebo and Dr. Richard McKizzie. 

Primary Resources: This course comprises a range of different free, online materials. In general, this course is built around the original works of the great economists who have preceded us. While we cannot reproduce all great economists’ full works, this course presents a diverse group of excerpts of those original works. The following resources are most prominently used:

Requirements for Completion: You are expected to study each unit, including the assigned readings and lectures. At the end of each unit, there is a set of reading questions that will enable you to properly frame the readings and lectures within the overall outcomes for the unit and for the course. At the end of the course, you will complete a final exam.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment:This course should take you a total of 129 **hours** to complete. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories, to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, unit 1 should take you 11.75 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1 and 1.2.1 (a total of 2.75 hours) on Monday; subunit 1.2.2 (a total of 5 hours) on Tuesday and Wednesday; subunits 1.2.3 and 1.2.4 (a total of 2 hours) on Thursday; the unit 1 assessment (a total of 2 hours) on Friday; etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.