ECO 327 • Comparative Economic Systems
This course is a writing workshop and seminar focusing on economic systems, national and global. The principal objective of the course is to enable your engagement with the scholarly literature on economic systems - that is, to learn how to learn from relevant experts. Secondary course objectives include deepening your understanding of economic systems, exercising your talents in information retrieval and processing, and sharpening your writing skills. Economic transition is an important phenomenon of the 21st century. In a large and expanding number of countries, a transition process is underway or, at least, under discussion. This transition is away from economic systems based on personal authority and inter-personal loyalties toward an economic system based on self-interested and self-reliant competitive struggle under a de-personalized rule of law. Such transitions are altering the global economy and affecting specific societies as diverse as Mexico, Germany, Uganda, Russia, India, and Japan. This course sets aside the contentious debates over the feasibility and desirability of economic transition, attempting instead to understand transition as an historical process. The focus of the course is on two instances of such transition. What caused Great Britain to become the pioneer of transition? What explains the peculiar characteristics of Japan's economic system? In our approach to these specific cases, we examine selected aspects of the evolution of economic systems from ancient times to the present. During the first two-thirds of the semester, lectures will address economic transition as well as practical tips on accessing the literature and composing a coherent term paper. Thereafter, most class meetings will consist of presentations by students of their work-in-progress.