The Making of Global Capitalism, 1500-1914

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Winter 2019
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

political economy, political science

Working together primarily in a seminar format, students and faculty will establish a historical, theoretical, and analytical understanding of the birth of capitalism in the crisis of 16th century European feudalism, its rise and consolidation in the late 18th and 19th centuries, the development of the global political economy, and its first systemic crisis accompanied by a major burst of imperial expansion in the late 19th century. We will find this topic to be steeped in controversy.

Capitalism has transformed the world materially, socially, and ecologically. We will consider the interrelationships among these three categories as capitalism developed and changed through its formative period. Major analytical categories will be imperialism, colonialism, and globalism, the accompanying ecological transformations, and the rise of social classes in support of, and resistance to, these developments. We will study the rise of liberalism in its historical context as well as its counterparts, conservatism and socialism. Understanding the trajectory, deep history, and logic of historical capitalism will provide students the insights and tools necessary to assess the current historical moment.

The program will require close and careful reading and discussion as well as considered and well-grounded writing. Our work will be conducted at an upper-division level, so students should have significant experience in close analytical reading, critical thinking, and research writing.

As this is an integrated program, it is expected that students will receive a full 16 credits, and they should register with that intent. In some cases, the research component may not be completed, resulting in 12 credits. Several areas in which credit equivalencies are expected to be awarded are political economy of historical capitalism, historical sociology, and conceptualizing historical research.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: history, political economy, political science, historical sociology, graduate school, and informed citizenship.

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.

Students should have previous experience with college-level work in history and political economy.  Students must have well-developed skills in close analytical reading, critical thinking, and research writing.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia