Survey Courses

What follows is a list of undergraduate survey courses in the history of economics. Each link, which contains the name of the instructor, the institution at which the course was offered, and the year the course was offered, takes you directly to the syllabus for the course. Under each link is a brief description of the course. Some courses have, in addition to the syllabus, supplementary materials: writing assignments, bibliographies and handouts on a particular figure or school, exam questions, and the like.

The courses are listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the professor.

Fletcher Baragar and A. M. C. Waterman, St. John's College (Manitoba), 2005-6

Syllabus is for the first term of a two-term course. Begins with the ancients and ends with Marx. Syllabus consists of a list of readings and contains an extensive list of essay topics, an annotated bibliography of secondary sources, and a list of classic primary texts.

Dieter Boegenhold, Free University of Bolzano, Spring 2008

Course begins with Marx and ends with the rise of mathematics in economics. The syllabus consists mainly of an extensive list of readings. The course is perhaps unusual in the extent to which it deals with recent developments in economics, such as the work of Gary Becker.

Peter Boettke, George Mason University, Fall 2010

Second part of a two-part course. Begins with the marginal revolution of the 1870s and ends with recent developments such as law and economics, public choice, and the new institutionalism. Readings from Mirowski, Caldwell, Medema, Blaug, and Kirzner. Course meets once a week. Weekly quizzes, take-home final exam, and research paper.

Bruce Caldwell, Univ. of North Carolina - Greensboro, 2004

Traces the history of economic thinking from the Scholastics to John Maynard Keynes. Ends with a consideration of "discordant currents" (institutionalism and the Austrian school) and of twentieth-century economics as a whole. Textbook: Henry Speigel, The Growth of Economic Thought. Primary sources include Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations; and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Marx-Engels Reader. Among the secondary-source readings are Caldwell, Hayek's Challenge; Phil Mirowski on the marginal revolution; and Brad Bateman on Keynes. Requirements: essays, participation in a class debate, lead a class discussion. Course designed for undergraduates as well as graduate students.

Avi J. Cohen, York University, Fall 2013

First of a two-part course on the history of economics. Focuses on the theoretical development of classical political economy up to 1870 in the works of the physiocrats, Smith, Ricardo, and Marx. Emphasizes the contrasts and similarities between classical and neoclassical theories. Required texts are The Worldy Philosophers and Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy, both by Robert Heilbroner.

Avi J. Cohen, York University, Winter 2014

Second of a two-part course on the history of economics. Focuses on major developments in economic theory since 1870, the emergence of neoclassical general equilibrium theory (especially in the works of Jevons, Menger, and Walras), and the development of Keynesian economics as a distinctive theory.

Jerry Evensky, Syracuse University, Spring 2000

This ten-page syllabus has a lot of personality--just like Jerry! Textbooks are Heilbroner's Worldy Philosophers and Spiegel's Growth of Economic Thought. Course begins with the ancients and ends with a consideration of the modern discourse. The extensive syllabus includes, among other things, directions for citing sources, extensive reflections on the research process--including identifying sources, collecting and analyzing data, and writing--and questions about the readings.

Nancy Folbre, University of Massachusetts, Fall 2010

Course begins with Mandeville's Grumbling Hive. Subjects include virtue and the moral sentiments, the early socialists, and early feminist economists, as well as the roots of the recession that began in 2007–8. Readings are from Folbre, Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economics Ideas (Oxford University Press, 2009); Cassidy, How Markets Fail (Farrar Strauss, 2009); and Hayek, The Road to Serfdom.

Craufurd Goodwin, Duke University, Fall 2010

Writing-intensive course that begins by reviewing historiographical methods. Major thinkers from Aristotle to Keynes. Textbook (Spiegel, Growth of Economic Thought) supplemented with many readings in primary and secondary sources. Series of short papers that form the basis of a final paper. Excellent source of primary and secondary readings. Course meets three times a week. Combines lectures with class discussion. Syllabus contains useful description of the writing assignments, including selecting a topic.

Kevin D. Hoover, UC Davis, Fall 2003

This is the first part of a two-part survey course on the history of economics. This part covers the classical period of economics, from Smith to Marx. The syllabus largely consists of a series of essay prompts and "gobbets," brief quotations from economic works that students are expected to identify and comment on.