This course covers the history of modern economics and economic thinking from foundational classical ideas, to the marginal revolution, and through the first half of the 20th century. We will begin by examining some classical precursors before turning to the marginal revolution and development of neoclassical ideas on utility, production, competition, and equilibrium analysis. The aim will be to develop an understanding of the origin and evolution of central concepts in economic theory, as well as examine methodological disputes over positivism and formalism. We will end with a consideration of the emergence of subfields in economics and a discussion of the relevance of these ideas for economics in the 21st century. Prerequisite intermediate microeconomics (Econ 1110 or 1130).

Econ 200: Foundations in the History of Economic Thought 

This course surveys key figures, ideas, and pivotal debates in the history of economic thought. We will examine economics as an ongoing conversation, with strong emphasis the movement from classical economics to neoclassical economics as a foundation for modern economic theory. Students will read original texts from thinkers such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Alfred Marshall, F.A. Hayek, and J.M. Keynes. We will examine the role of economic ideas in important junctures in political economy, such as debates over slavery in England, woman’s suffrage, the socialist calculation debate, and the stability of the market economy. 

Emily Skarbek

Econ 1200: History of Modern Economic Thought