Undergraduate Fields of Specialization: Economies, Labor, and Capitalism
Economies, Labor, and Capitalism
Economic activity has played a central role in world history, from ancient trade and barter systems to the globally connected capitalist system of today. Production, consumption, and exchange of goods and services have transformed both the natural environment and human society in radical ways. The Triangular Trade across the Atlantic created sugar and cotton plantation complexes worked by enslaved people, enriching European empires and laying the foundations for enduring racial and economic inequality. The Industrial Revolution gave rise both to the organized working class that shaped modern democratic politics, as well as the large-scale extraction of fossil fuels that altered global climate. Through computers and smartphones, the Digital Revolution changed almost every aspect of how we live and work. Behind each transition lies messy and unpredictable processes, shaped by often hidden forces (laws, state policies, and institutions), leaving behind winners and losers. Students will explore these processes historically, considering a variety of perspectives and sources.