Why are some countries rich and some poor? Why does the average person in the U.S. enjoy a higher level of economic welfare than the average person in Mexico or India? Why do men earn higher wages for doing the same work as women? Why do whites have higher wealth levels than People of Color? Why are people poor, sometimes even if they have full-time jobs? Why are many people compelled to leave their homes and migrate, in order to escape poverty? Are these situations just? These are the questions that will guide us.
Our primary focus will be the historical evolution of capitalism that produced the inequalities by nation, race, class, and gender that we see today. We will begin with European expansion into the Americas, Asia, and Africa as colonial empires were built, resulting in a global economy that transferred wealth and resources from the colonies to Europe. We will build our understanding of how capitalism developed inequalities by race, class, gender, and nation through a study of European peasant displacement, urban impoverishment, slavery, and mass migrations as the poor were compelled to find work abroad. We will explore the political philosophies that justify these inequalities and the continued economic dominance of the Global North, whites, men, and the rich.
Through our exploration, we will be introduced to political economy, a theoretical approach that illuminates economic hierarchies, power, and inequalities. Workshops will focus on some fundamentals of mainstream economics (e.g., how markets work), feminist economics (which uses gender as a lens to look at the economy) and international economics (e.g., the trans-Atlantic trade triangles and ongoing international migration of workers and their families).
By the end of this program we will be in a solid position to examine current economic inequities and explore possible reforms that could lead to more just outcomes.
Course Reference Numbers
economics, political science, political economy, gender studies, history, and public policy. This program will be good preparation for the winter program, Who Gets What?: Political Economy of Income, Wealth and Economic Justice.
$120 for an overnight field trip.