Rated 5 out of 5 by Ark1836 Interesting Blend of Economics & Political Science
This course is equal parts economics and political science. As a preliminary statement, I wish the Great Courses would recommend "prerequisites" for certain classes. For this one, the Great Courses should recommend its Economics course first as the professor assumes the listener is familiar with basic economics concepts and terms. If you are weak on the basics, take the Economics course before this one.
The general theme of the course is the spread of economic prosperity throughout the world. Each lesson focuses on a distinct topic and most lessons were fascinating and eye-opening. The topics range from the definition of economic prosperity to ways that individuals and nations can achieve prosperity. He discusses how prosperity goals often shape political positions and explains how politics and economics are interconnected. The professor gave many interesting statistics about the development of prosperity, focusing on both a historical perspective and modern events. For example, for the lesson economic bubbles, he began with the Dutch Tulip Mania of 1637 and ended with the housing bubble that triggered the 2008 Great Recession. All-in-all, this was a fascinating course and well-worth taking.
August 18, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Challenger A course on capitalism
This course provides a sober, quite academic view of what the conditions are for reaching Prosperity. Prosperity in what sense, and for whom? These are important questions that Professor Drezner tries to answer as the course evolves. In Prosperity, he focuses almost exclusively on Economic Prosperity (as the title in fact promises). Professor Drezner is a Political scientist, not an Economist. Large parts of the discussion are therefore set aside for the political aspects; discussing the role of government in providing public goods, foreign relations, and international organization that targeted at accelerating global prosperity aong other topics. The discussion of Prosperity is divided to three different levels: personal, national and global. He argues that it is really quite hard for the average person to prosper personally if the country one lives in is not prospering. If the country is prospering, there is a very simple rule: education is the single most predictor for economic prosperity and this is a very well proven case. Another important factor is personal health. At the national level, there must be a strong respect for law and order. Involvement of government must be kept relatively low in the market place as this is usually inefficient and invites corruption and, as he terms it, "unconstructive entrepreneurship". The discussions on global prosperity, and how to create prosperity in developing countries were fascinating and quite new to me altogether.
My reservation has to do with the choice to discuss Economic prosperity – that is how to make as much money as possible be it at the personal, national or global scale. As Professor Drezner notes, Economic prosperity is only one measure of Prosperity, and one could think of other measures that could potentially be just as interesting, such as maximizing happiness and/or health. Though Professor Drezner does mention these options in the beginning of the course, these other forms of Prosperity are discarded quite quickly with the reason given that they are harder to quantify and to discuss. So the discussion is really all about how to create a thriving, liberal capitalistic environment in which everyone has a good chance of maximizing their potential financially. One could have chosen to study other formulas of prosperity in which, for example, more stress is given to maximizing each individual's ability to maximize their potential. This is a formula that social democratic countries in Europe took as their goal. The discussion is very interesting, valuable and profound as long that it is understood that this choice is not just for the sake of convenience but also has to do with focus and political agenda.
I found the Professor's lecturing style to be quite dry. There was not a lot of humor inserted into the lectures and they just did not feel so lively or dynamic. He has a tendency to intonate many sentences as if they are questions, even when he is simply making a statement. I found this habit slightly irritating… Personally, however, this is excused because the course content is really interesting and profound, many of the aspects presented were new to me, and the material was presented in a clear and well-argued manner that enabled a highly rewarding learning experience.
May 18, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Castle Money is not everything
Practical course on economics, what works and why. Prosperity is more than having money it is individual achievement for the common good.
February 19, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Jacqueline A ray of light in a tangled subject
Every day we are swamped by news of crisis and conflict.
And since the organizations supplying this information assume that most of us cannot absorb anything disruptive unless it is also entertaining, much of it is massaged into leadership blame or morality tales.
Occasionally, however, larger "structural" issues are mentioned, long-term trends affecting our economic well-being# Is the trend up, as it was generations ago? If not, why?
This is where the debate degenerates into personal anecdotes or strongly-held political biases# Economic concerns deeply interest us, but as a discipline, economics
• can either feel as theoretical and math-heavy as quantum physics, or
• seem highly ideological, with quasi-theological debates that never achieve consensus#
Dr Drezner's FOUNDATION OF ECONOMIC PROSPERITY tries to avoid these two foibles by starting with "prosperity" defined in simple, quantifiable terms#
Think of it as a 6-box grid where prosperity is explained on 3 levels: personal, national and global# And then further presented from 2 points of view: developed and developing economies# #3 levels X 2 points of view = 6 boxes#.
Having established this grid, PROSPERITY then introduces a set of "factors" usually kept separate in most news reports, as they bring up too many apples-and-oranges comparisons.
— PSYCHOLOGY: Is prosperity a constant, once achieved? Or must it grow to mean anything? Is it like a mirage, forever receding out of our grasp? What about the "keeping-up-with-the-Jones" syndrome?
— INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK: Man-made rules on education, public debate, economic transactions, capital investment and technological innovation can foster or impede prosperity.
— POLITICS: Countries are both entities on autopilot, relying on established procedures, and a perpetual struggle for power among tiny elites. This struggle remains important in democracies and autocracies, but its influence on collective prosperity can vary.
— CULTURE: How do national values and resources affect the path to prosperity? Can foreign aid make a difference?
— DISASTERS: What about wars and natural catastrophes?
What Drezner's FOUNDATION offers in other words, is a conceptual framework that allows you to intelligently discuss, or explore in a time-effective way, a very tangled set of important issues. Ethical, political and parochial preferences often keep us on the sideline in these debates.
They are also very relevant in a practical way, if you are involved in international business, diplomacy or NGO projects.
Does Drezner "solve" these issues in a way you or I will agree with on every point? Of course not.
24 lessons can open your eyes to the complexity of the issues without bogging you down in math or jargon. That is already a good use of your time. You want more? FOUNDATION is a great primer, no more. Move on to its excellent bibliography to go further.
PRESENTATION was very clear, especially if you read the guidebook before or after each lesson. The audio format was fine for me in this case.
Another TTC course, CUSTOMS OF THE WORLD: USING CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE TO ADAPT, WHEREVER YOU ARE, goes extremely well with FOUNDATION if international work is your specialty.
Strongly recommended, even if you have no background in economics.
March 2, 2014