Economic History

Economic History Concentration

What makes an economy grow? How can we explain persistent inequality in periods of staggering wealth accumulation? Is capitalism sustainable? What are the ecological consequences of globalization? How should scholars assess indices of well-being, productivity, or value?

These are economic history questions. Historians work to understand the many different economic systems that peoples around the globe have constructed and contested, including changing forms of feudalism, slavery, capitalism, and socialism.

The Economic History major will expose you to significant, enduring, and policy-relevant debates: about the causes of financial crises; the history of movements demanding more racially and socially just societies; the shifting balance of world economic power in the long run; or past and future alternatives to capitalism. Historians engage these questions from a global perspective, and you will find course offerings that address the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, whether through a geographic focus or a comparative approach.  

By choosing the Economic History concentration inside the History Major, students gain experience with approaches that are methodologically varied and mobilize both qualitative and quantitative evidence. Economic history is inherently interdisciplinary, borrowing tools from fields as diverse as economics, political science, anthropology, archaeology, and literature.

Our economic world has a deep, plural history, one that grounds conversations about the future. Exploring economic history prepares students to engage in debates that are not yet imagined.

Fall 2023 Economic History Courses


Economic History Concentration requirements

The concentration in Economic History consists of six Economic History courses plus ECON 0100 and 0200: 


Economic History concentrators must take at least one upper-level seminar (HIST 2100-3799) classified as Economic History on the "Courses" page. Titles of recently offered seminars include: Capitalism and Humanitarianism; Thinking about Capitalism; Taking Off: How Some Economies Get Rich; ¡Huelga! The Farmworker Movement in the United States; and Introduction to Business, Economic, and Financial History. 


Students must take four courses from the following list:

  • HIST 1400 (formerly 121) Silver and Gold in the Americas from Pre-History to Present
  • HIST 1203 (formerly 123) Economic History of Europe
  • HIST 1731 (formerly 131) Financial Meltdown: Past and Present
  • HIST 1153 (formerly 153) Transformations of Urban America: Making the Unequal Metropolis, 1945 to Today
  • HIST 1161 (formerly 161)  American Capitalism
  • HIST 1740 (formerly 174) Capitalism, Socialism and Crisis in the 20th Century Americas
  • HIST 1475 (formerly 175) History of Brazil: Slavery, Inequality, Development
  • HIST 3965 (formerly 350) The International Monetary System from Sterling to Cryptocurrencies (1720-2020)
  • HIST 3930 (formerly 372) History of Foreign Aid in Africa
  • HIST 3960 (formerly 447) Histories of the Information Economy


Students may complete their elective requirement with a second economic history seminar, an additional course from the above list, or with a major-related course.

Major-related Courses

Courses in Economics (ECON), Political Science (PSCI), and Sociology (SOCI), for example, which have core historical content and mesh with courses in the Economic History cluster will be approved. Examples include:

  • ECON 0440 (formerly 036) Law and Economics
  • ECON 4420 (formerly 232) Political Economy
  • ECON 4610 (formerly 271) Foundations of Market Economies
  • MGMT 2250 (formerly 250) Value Creation and Value Capture in American Business History
  • PSCI 1402 (formerly 152) International Political Economy
  • PSCI 4170 (formerly 414) Comparative Politics of the Welfare State
  • SOCI 1050 (formerly 010) Social Stratification
  • SOCI 1051 (formerly 110) The Rich and the Poor
  • LGST 2430 (formerly 243) Other People's Money: the Law, Politics, and History of Financial Institutions

All major-related courses must be approved by your faculty advisor.

ECON 0100 AND 0200

History majors with an Economic History Concentration are required to take ECON 0100 and 0200, both of which count toward the 12 CU’s required for the major.  Students are encouraged to complete ECON 0100 and 0200 by the end of their sophomore years. 

Special Note: Economic History Majors may use no more than 2 additional outside courses to complete the major, including study abroad and major related courses.


Faculty Advisors