Syllabus Politics of the Global Economy

Another syllabus of one of the classes I taught at TUJ after the jump, this time for a course called Politics of the Global Economy. This was a more or less straightforward undergraduate IPE class following a standard textbook. Do get in touch if you need any of the lecture materials or want to hear more about the course. 

Politics of the Global Economy

I taught this class four times and drew quite a mixed group of students as many needed an “international affairs” credit. There were usually 20-30 students, except for one summer term, when we were only five or six (and which was great). I later dropped this class so I could focus more on my urban studies courses, which I will introduce in more detail soon. Looking back, however, this class was an amazing opportunity to connect with the diverse TUJ student body and understand how they see the world.

“This course will present an overview of the main theories and issues in the international political economy (IPE). IPE is an interdisciplinary field in political science that is concerned with the way politics shapes economic interactions on a global scale. With the main theories addressed in the beginning of the course, we will explore how global capitalism developed over the last five or so centuries, and why so many parts of the world today remain “underdeveloped”. This historical section will allow us to better understand today’s main issues in IPE, e.g. trade, financial markets, foreign investment and migration. We conclude by looking at other aspects of IPE, e.g. inequality, gender, the environment, and security.”

The textbook I used is Robert O’Brien & Marc Williams, Global Political Economy, 4th or 5th Edition, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013 or 2016), which I found well-written and “modern”. As I am no specialist IPE scholar, however, I would be hard-pressed to compare it to any other major text (I only skim-read a few others!).

Among the main questions we asked were:

  • What explains the persistence of poverty of large parts of the world’s population?
  • What helps explain the tectonic shifts we are currently seeing in the global trade regime?
  • What causes financial crises?
  • How can we understand the rise of populism in the “West”?
  • Why is it important to take a global perspective in accounting for rising inequalities within and between nations?

And again some “promises” made at the beginning of the course. By taking the class, students will:

  • Have a solid grasp of the timeline of capitalism’s development until today. This will include the study of key events such as the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, World War II, the fall of the Berlin Wall, among others.
  • Critically engage with quantitative and qualitative data drawn from a variety of sources. (I hope that by the end of the course, students will find most charts or graphs published in the Financial Times or the Economist easy to read!)
  • Have an intuitive grasp of the main players in the global political economy—be they public and private, national or international—and their motivations, context and constraints.
  • Learn about the economic and political geography of the world, building empathy for people from all walks of life, around the globe.
  • Find it easier to construct arguments, presenting a hypothesis, supporting evidence and a critical assessment of one’s own thinking.

Assessment was split in class participation, unannounced quizzes, class participation, mid-term exam, final essay. The main “excursions” were the initial economic history sessions, guest lectures (by Osei Oteng-Asante on West African history, Prachi Gupta on international trade, Pauleen Gorospe on maritime security and So-heon Lee on gender) and global inequality. I also threw in two classes on essay writing.

Here is the overview of the classes. Note that scheduling in that semester saw the class run one-hour slots, explaining the large amount of sessions.

1 Introduction to the class, overview, explanation of assignments, getting to know each other None
2 Methodology: Ideas, facts and knowledge Robert O’Brien & Marc Williams, Global Political Economy (OBW), chapter 13 (skim-read)
3 Theories of global political economy: liberalism, mercantilism, Marxism OBW chapter 1
4 1400-1800: Forging a world economy OBW chapter 3
5 The Great Divergence: Challenging Eurocentric pathways Pomeranz, K. (2000), The Great Divergence, (see online board for relevant excerpt)
6 1800-1945: The industrial revolution, empire and war Acemoglu, D. and J. Robinson (2012), Why Nations Fail, 2012 (see online board for relevant excerpt)
7 1945-1989: Growing a global economy 1 OBW chapter 5
8 1989-2017: Growing a global economy 2 Fukuyama, F. (1989), “The End of History”, The National Interest, Summer (see online board)
9 Global economic history: guest lecture (Osei Oteng-Asante, GRIPS, West African intra-regional trade) TBC
10 Economic development OBW chapter 11
11 Economic development The Economist (June 28 – July 8, 2011), “The Debate: Manufacturing; Jagdish Bhagwati vs. Ha-Joon Chang” (see online board)
Economic development Class presentations
12 Holiday – No classes
13 Economic Development Class presentations
14 International Trade guest lecture (Dr. Prachi Gupta, Asian Development Bank Institute) OBW chapter 6
15 International Trade
16 Mid-term summary
17 International Trade Class presentations
18 Mid-term exam
19 Transnational production OBW chapter 7
20 International division of labor OBW chapter 9
21 Finance OBW chapter 8
22 Finance OBW chapter 8, part 2
23 Finance Class presentations
24 Finance None
25 Environment OBW chapter 12
26 Environment Dale, G., (2015), “Origins and Delusions of Green Growth”, International Socialist Review, Issue 97, available online
27 Essay-writing I TBC
28 Security OBW chapter 14
29 Security, guest lecture (Pauleen Gorospe, GRIPS, maritime security in Asia-Pacific) TBC
30 Global Governance
31 Gender, guest lecture (Dr. So-heon Lee, Asian Development Bank Institute OBW chapter 10
32 Gender WEF (2017), Global Gender Gap Report, available here
33 Inequality Milanovic, B., Global Inequality, 2016 (see online board)
34 Inequality World Inequality Lab (2017), World Inequality Report, Executive Summary, available here
35 Essay-writing II TBC
36 Course summary Final essay due



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