Economics and Society

Geography/Economics 1111 - Spring 2015

Here’s a link to the most recent version of my introduction to economics and economic geography.

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This course serves as an introduction to the core principles, theories, and histories of economics, with specific attention to the issues that shape the spatial contours of the global economy. We will work to develop a basic understanding of contemporary public debates about economic policy and explore the relationships between spaces, labor, and markets. By the end of the semester, we will have engaged with concepts like globalization, austerity, and neoliberalism and studied the often-conflicting roles of economic actors like states, producers, and consumers.

  • We will use the first half of the semester to develop a basic understanding of the central concepts of the discipline of economics, and to situate these ideas within various iterations of economic discourse.
  • Through a diverse set of readings and in class discussions, after the midterm we will work to connect the historical development of capitalism to ongoing shifts in the spatial organization of production and consumption.
  • By framing economics not only through the abstract models of conventional economics, but also through an interrogation of economic activity in diverse spaces (like the Global South), together we will critically analyze globalization and investigate the causes and patterns of spatial economic inequality.
  • Develop a classroom culture that encourages you to critically analyze the connections between your daily practices and the uneven economic, political, and environmental issues that underpin them.


Part I: Foundations

For the first part of our semester we will focus in building an economics vocabulary, a way of discussing economic transactions, economic actors, and the market through the lens of a traditional economics discourse. For those of you wishing to pursue economics further, this part of the course will give you a foundation upon which to build in ECON 2001 (Introduction to Microeconomics) and ECON 2102 (Introduction to Macroeconomics).

Week 1: Introductions: What is Economics? Where is Economics?

Week 2: Markets and the Invisible Hand

Week 3: Supply and Demand, Comparative Advantage and Trade

Week 4: Taxation, Government Intervention, and Economic Freedom

Week 5: Labor, Class, and the Distribution of Income

Week 6: The Aggregate Economy, Fiscal Policy, Monetary Policy

Week 7: Unemployment, Inflation, and Macroeconomic Problems

Part II: Placing Economics

For the second half of the class, we will turn our attention to the circulation of economic concepts and practices in space. We will spend time investigating key economic theories and the ways that these frameworks have dramatically shaped our world—from laissez faire capitalism to the post-fordism to austerity. Our focus here will be on how the way that economics is practiced has dramatic effects on the shape of the world in its ‘actually existing’ manifestations.

Week 8: You Are Here: A Spatial History of Capitalism(s)

Week 9: Early Industrial Economic Geography and the Emergence of Fordism

Week 10: Fordism (continued), Stagflation, and the Welfare State

Week 11: Flexible Accumulation, New Industrial Spaces, and the Neoliberal Turn

Week 12: The New Economy, Finance, and the 90s

Week 13: The 90s Continues, and the Rise of Silicon Valley

Week 14: To Big to Fail? Austerity, Crisis, Occupy