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Core Courses Descriptions

*Please check CAESAR for up to date course descriptions and schedules

Hist 250-1: Global History I

Course description: How did corn change African politics? What did indigenous silver miners in Mexico contribute to the fall of a great Chinese dynasty? Did an intense episode of "global cooling" make people all over the world more amenable to rebellion? Why did it become fashionable for women in so many places to wear striped cotton and drink hot tea out of porcelain cups? Why did Britain industrialize before Holland, China, or Japan? How many continents are there, and which one was home to Batavia? This course addresses these questions and many more as it traces the history of the world between 1500 and 1850. During this era, commonly known as the early modern period, trade, migration, ecological change, epidemics, intellectual ferment, and technological innovation connected far-flung areas of the globe. This course will consider the dense web of connections that traversed the Eurasian landmass, reached across the arctic circle, and spanned the vast oceans connecting the old world and the new. Using the paradigms of connection, comparison, and contact, students will "think big," in part to consider the antecedents of our own globalized era and in part to ponder the disconnections and discontinuities between the early modern world and our own.

Hist 250-2: Global History II

Course description:  This course offers an introduction to the main episodes and themes in modern history. Unlike other history classes, however, the focus will be not on a particular region or nation, but on the planet, taken as a whole. Such a broad gauge will allow us to better understand large-scale phenomena, such as the industrial revolution, empire, nationalism, international communism, the two world wars, the Cold War, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and globalization. The course will focus in particular on four overarching themes: the unprecedented economic growth in the modern world, the emergence of equally unprecedented inequality, the importance of carbon-based energy sources, and the ecological consequences of their use. Along the way we will read a rich blend of primary and secondary sources designed to illuminate particular historical episodes and experiences. Students will gain from this class not only a familiarity with the basics of modern history but also an understanding of the ways in which the disparate parts of the modern world are related to each other.

Political Science 240: Introduction to International Relations

Course description: The course is divided in two parts. In part I the focus will be on explaining the causes of war, and reflect on current security problems. In part II the turn to how we have moved from traditional inter-state relations to a globalized environment in which states, non-state actors, and international organizations interact. More specifically the emphasis in part I will be on achieving a theoretical understanding of how one might explain the occurrence of war or peace. This course is not a discussion of current events, although they might be introduced to clarify particular perspectives. In other words, the emphasis is on developing a "toolkit" which one can use to understand international relations in general. In Part II, the turn to global issues in the areas of international economic management (particularly trade). How did the post-war international economic order differ from the 1930s? How will the rise of economic powers such as China possibly affect this international order? Then, discussion of global problems that go beyond traditional inter-state relations: trans-boundary environmental problems and the global energy "problematique." Is there an international oil regime? What explains the emergence of international agreements on CFCs and conversely the failure of the Kyoto protocol?

Political Science 344: U.S. Foreign Policy

Course description:  "US foreign policy" refers to the official position of the United States on various topics and issues related to the international domain. This course will explore these issues with the goal of understanding US policy in terms of where it stands now, where it has come from, and where it may go. The first part of the course will expose students to some conceptual tools, history, and current practices to help think through foreign policy construction. The second part of the course, will survey regions of the world to examine aspects of US foreign policy. How US foreign policy is formulated, executed, legitimated, and contested. Topics include 9/11 and its aftermath, covert action, interventionism, trade, US respect for international norms, and US engagement with the Middle East.

History 319: History of U.S. Foreign Relations

Course description: The United States has been, since at least 1945, the most powerful nation on the planet. Its foreign relations are thus a matter of interest, not just as part of U.S. history, but also as part of global history. This upper-level lecture course considers the rise of the United States and asks how the U.S. came to be the sort of world power it is today. The course is not, however, merely a history of wars and diplomacy. It is also a history of ideas, social movements, technologies, and globalization. Special attention will be given to the themes of race, empire, and democracy as we trace U.S. foreign relations from 1789 to the present.

Economics 201: Introduction to Macroeconomics

Course description: An introduction to economics with an emphasis on macroeconomics (business cycles, inflation, unemployment, economic growth). The first three weeks cover aspects of general microeconomics that everyone should know, including how the market system works, how prices are determined, why shortages and surpluses occur, and basic industrial competition. Topics include: supply and demand, competition versus monopoly, comparative advantage in trade, taxation, and market failures. The last two-thirds of the class build on these tools to study the behavior of the economy as a whole, particularly in an international context. Topics include: inflation, unemployment, recessions, booms, fiscal and monetary policy, budget deficits, economic development of nations, international trade, and exchange rates.

SOCIOL 215-0 – Economy and Society

Course description: This course introduces sociological approaches to economic institutions and behavior. The goal is to provide a set of sociological ideas to understand markets, prices, corporations, supply, demand, production, work, exchange, property, and other economic topics, in a different way.