Political Economy of Sustainability

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Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

economics, public administration

Course Description:   “Political economy” concerns principles on which our economy is organized, grounded in moral philosophy and understandings of human nature.  Political economy and economics as a discipline developed during the beginnings of industrialization and rapid growth in humankind’s population, economic output and exploitation of fossil fuels and natural capital.  With the unfolding of peak oil, climate change and collapse of multiple ecological systems and the opportunities inherent in our new technologies, information systems and evolving consciousness, we face a critical historical moment and are due for a “political economy reboot”.  Topics covered include: ecological economics, market failures, externalities, public goods, government regulation and deregulation, critiques of corporate power and financial capitalism, community economics and theories of happiness. 

Emphasis is on understanding the development of the market economy, limits of markets, the roles of government shaping markets and institutional alternatives to markets while elaborating principles for and steps to create a sustainable economy.  Historical, policy and institutional examples are presented for illustration, especially from the professor’s clean energy finance experience.  The course goal is to equip students to engage critically in political economy debate and draw links between current practical economic policy issues and the philosophical bases underlying competing viewpoints.  

Program Details


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered

Evening and Weekend

Advertised Schedule

May 1 Tues 5-9p, May 12 & 19, Sat 9a-5p

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning