An Economic History of the World since 1400

Course No. 5670
Professor Donald J. Harreld, Ph.D.
Brigham Young University
Share This Course
4.1 out of 5
47 Reviews
78% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 5670
Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Learn how Europe's manorial societies helped develop the structures and institutions that would lead to the medieval commercial revolution.
  • numbers Go inside the English East India Company, the Dutch East India Company, and other joint-stock companies.
  • numbers Explore the factors that transformed agricultural production in Europe and the United States.
  • numbers Exam the middle class" and learn the economic important of mail-order catalogs, the dawn of department stores, and the birth of modern advertising."
  • numbers Discover how the global economy got to this point, and how the developing countries of the Middle East began to play a central role in world economic affairs in the last quarter of the 20th century.

Course Overview

Money truly does make the world go ‘round. And yet, when it comes to the study of world history, most of us focus on politics, society, and culture. We often overlook the vital importance of economics.

Economics has, in many regards, created the world. Not only is it the process through which societies provide for the well-being of their citizens, it has also driven everything from trade and politics to warfare and diplomacy. In fact, there’s not a single aspect of history that has not, in some way, been influenced by economic practices.

Most of us, even those savvy at following today’s market fluctuations, have a limited understanding of the powerful role economics has played in shaping human civilization. This makes economic history—the study of how civilizations have structured their environments in order to provide food, shelter, and material goods—a vital lens through which to think about how we arrived at our present, globalized moment. It’s also a way to educate yourself about the history behind today’s (and tomorrow’s) economic headlines, from trade negotiations to job outsourcing to financial miracles.

Designed to fill the long-empty gap in how we think about modern history, An Economic History of the World since 1400 is a comprehensive, 48-lecture journey through more than 600 years of economic history, from the feudal system of the medieval world to the high-speed information economy of the 21st century. Aimed at the layperson who has only a cursory understanding of economics, these lectures illustrate the fascinating links between economics and history, revealing how the production, consumption, and exchange of goods has influenced (and been influenced by) historical events and trends, including the Black Death, the Age of Exploration, the invention of the printing press, the Industrial Revolution, the European colonization of Africa, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of China and India, and the birth of personal computing.

How can concepts like prices, resource allocation, production methods, technological development, and labor steer the fates of entire nations and ways of life? In the hands of economic historian and award-winning professor Donald J. Harreld of Brigham Young University, this profound question forms the foundation of an exciting Great Course that transforms the basic economic worries of providing for one’s welfare into a riveting, centuries-long story of power, glory, and ideology.

Discover the Economics behind History’s Great Events

What’s so special about the year 1400? Professor Harreld starts the course here because this was the historical moment in which we first begin to see the baby steps that would send the world toward the modern economic systems we use today. And while the lectures extend outward to examine the economic histories of places like India, China, and Africa, the focus is primarily on the West, because the world economy has been framed by Western ideas and ideals for the past several centuries.

“Economic history is not the examination of the history of economics,” notes Professor Harreld. “We’ll only lightly touch on the history of economic thought. Instead, we’ll focus on what happened in the past—rather than what people thought about what happened in the past.”

An Economic History of the World since 1400 is your opportunity to view major historical moments through the perspective of economics, shedding new light on familiar people and events. It’s also your chance to see how, in step with history, economic ideas emerged, evolved, and thrived or died.

  • The Black Death and the end of serfdom: From 1346 to 1353, the plague devastated the population of Europe—an event that would have profound ramifications for the largely feudal economy of the time. Along with a drop in the amount of cultivated farmland and a rise in wages, the Black Death forced indebted manorial lords to turn the management of their estates over to peasants, which began the trend of eliminating serfdom that would be finished by the 19th century.
  • Colonialism and joint stock companies: By the end of the 16th century, the Dutch and English broke the Portuguese monopoly on voyages to Asia, opening a new chapter in the story of European domination over long-distance maritime trade. This, in turn, gave rise to joint stock companies—new forms of business organizations like the Dutch East India Company. So powerful were these merchant blocks that their charters acknowledged the use of violence to advance international trade.
  • Class consciousness and consumer culture: In the late 19th century, thanks to technological advancements and better living standards, Europeans and Americans had more money in their pockets than ever before. What resulted was a working-class interest in fashions and tastes that had formerly concerned only the upper class. To satisfy this, people turned to more modern forms of consuming goods like mail-order catalogs and department stores. However, an increased emphasis on class lines also led to major labor strikes and riots, as well as the birth of communism.
  • World War I and postwar debts: The First World War not only destroyed nations, it also ravaged the international economy. In the years after the war, huge debts that countries had accumulated to finance the war had to be paid off. Inflation hit much of Europe after the United States insisted on being repaid in full. There was also the matter of Germany’s war reparations bill, which was more than $30 billion. Unknown to most parties, these and other economic events created conditions that helped bring about World War II.
  • The Middle East and the oil economy: How did the Middle East become such a powerful player on the world stage? The answer lies in the last quarter of the 20th century, when Western attempts to exert economic power in the region, a softening of the post-World War II economy, and a global shift in fuel consumption provided these oil-rich nations with a major role in world affairs.

Examine the Intersection of History and Economics

As Professor Harreld takes you through the tumultuous centuries of modern history, you’ll strengthen your understanding of a range of economic concepts, philosophies, trends, treaties, and organizations.

  • Learn how early guilds and monopolies were established in an effort to protect merchants from competition in distant cities.
  • See how the mercantile system defined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations helped further the process of state building that would remake Western Europe.
  • Discover how the United States, which often borrowed European technologies, pioneered the American system of manufacturing using interchangeable parts in the 19th century.
  • Consider how Marxist economic ideas played a major role in the African independence movement (and the Cold War) during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Witness how various nations came together to form international economic organizations, partnerships, and trade blocs including the European Union, the Arab League, and NAFTA.

By grounding these and other topics in the history of world events, An Economic History of the World since 1400 makes them much more understandable. It also cements the important role the economy played in why wars were won (and lost), why international agreements were made (and broken), and why national economies rose (and fell).

Professor Harreld also invites you to consider provocative questions about the intersection of history and economics—and their illuminating answers.

  • What technological invention, more than any other, revolutionized the modern economy?
  • How do economic historians define terms like “globalization” and “class consciousness”?
  • Why didn’t China’s advanced civilization industrialize hundreds of years before it actually did?
  • What did the economies of Roosevelt’s America and Hitler’s Germany have in common?
  • What does history tell us about how nations should—and shouldn’t—dictate economic policy?
  • Can we say that free trade is truly free?

Marvel at History’s Economic Forces

An award-winning teacher and chairman of Brigham Young University’s Department of History, Professor Harreld has spent his career carefully analyzing the interplay between economics and the social and political behavior of countries throughout the world. His chronological approach to the subject, combined with illuminating visual aids (including detailed maps, historical documentation, and illustrations of key trade routes) make this an excellent visual learning experience. And his resonant, authoritative voice makes these lectures equally compelling to hear.

While it may seem daunting to chart the economic evolution of the modern world, in the hands of this master educator, you’re never overwhelmed or vexed by complex economic details. Instead, you’re guided through a top-level explanation of economic concepts, with the focus always being on their historical ramifications.

“History doesn’t repeat itself exactly,” says Professor Harreld. “The world changes. But the past helps us see the world today more clearly.” With An Economic History of the World since 1400, marvel at just how much we still have to learn about the economic forces that have dictated our past—and that will undoubtedly dictate our future.

Hide Full Description
48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Self-Interest, Human Survival, and History
    How is economic history different from a history of economics? What are the primary concerns of today's economic historians? What are some watershed economic moments of the last 500 years? Why does modern economic history "begin" around 1400? Find out in this introductory lecture to the remarkable journey ahead. x
  • 2
    Marco Polo, China, and Silk Road Trade
    Examine the state of the global economy circa 1400, when Europe was surprisingly at the bottom of the economic success ladder. Along the way, you'll examine the broad economic outlines of China, India, and the Islamic world and discover how Europe laid the groundwork for the new capitalist world system that exists today. x
  • 3
    Manorial Society in Medieval Europe
    Learn how Europe's manorial societies helped develop the structures and institutions that would lead to the medieval commercial revolution. You'll find out what everyday life was like on a manor, how serfs were exploited by elites, the importance of medieval trade fairs, how wool-cloth production redefined northwestern Europe, and more. x
  • 4
    How Black Death Reshaped Town and Field
    Outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics can have profound effects not just on human populations, but also on the economy. Discover how the Black Death shut down trade routes, lowered economic productivity, disrupted supply and demand, depressed land value, and ultimately made the medieval feudal system untenable. x
  • 5
    Late-14th-Century Guilds and Monopolies
    After the Black Death, urban revolts placed a strong emphasis on the rights of European peasants. This also led to the creation of guilds and monopolies that reflected the self-interests of those in control of urban power structures. Find out how these systems helped carry the European economy through subsequent centuries. x
  • 6
    European Discovery Routes: East and West
    What did the age of exploration mean to the European economy? Find out in this lecture that covers the voyages of explorers like Columbus and Magellan, the reasons why Asians didn't succeed at discovering a sea route to the West, the new European commercial systems created in the Americas, and much more. x
  • 7
    1571: Spain, Portugal Encircle the Globe
    By 1500, the Iberian kingdoms of Portugal and Spain opened up immense possibilities for the backwater European economy to take the lead on the world stage. As you follow the story of how they did it, you'll encounter the landmark Treaty of Tordesillas; the development of Crown Trade Routes; Spanish hidalgos and conquistadors; and the link between slaves, gold, and spices. x
  • 8
    Old World Bourses and Market Information
    Go inside the creation of large, state-sponsored joint-stock companies in the 17th century-including the Bourse in Antwerp and the Exchanges in London and Amsterdam-and discover how negotiated public spaces became essential commercial institutions. Also, consider the importance of merchant manuals, which collated commercial rules and best practices. x
  • 9
    The Europeans' Plantation Labor Problem
    At the heart of many European colonies were plantations, an economic system that relies on one mass-produced cash crop and a large, inexpensive labor force. How did Europeans solve labor supply problems in the colonies they established around the world? When (and where) did race-based slavery begin? Why did it last for so long? x
  • 10
    Adam Smith, Mercantilism, State Building
    According to Adam Smith, if labor creates value, then the amount of wealth in the world could increase by the collective efforts of a nation. Welcome to the dawn of mercantilism, which, as you'll learn here, radically redefined how rulers used economic policy-specifically to further the process of state building. x
  • 11
    British and Dutch Joint-Stock Companies
    The English East India Company. The Dutch East India Company. Go inside these and other joint-stock companies, in which a group of merchants monopolized trade with certain parts of the world. In the process, you'll discover how these companies were granted sweeping powers, including the right to make war when they felt it necessary. x
  • 12
    Europe, the Printing Press, and Science
    How did the printing press shape the modern economy of the Western world? The answer, as you'll learn, is inextricably linked with scientific and technological progress, including the rapid circulation of new ideas, the rise of a lay intelligentsia, and the establishment of new ways of organizing knowledge. x
  • 13
    The Industrious Revolution: Demand Grows
    Explore the two centuries from 1600 to 1800 known as the industrious revolution." First, examine the early rise of the first factories (which guilds and states initially opposed). Then, study the slow change of the household economy, consumption patterns, and consumer behavior (including the introduction of cotton cloth)." x
  • 14
    Why Didn't China Industrialize Earlier?
    Economic development in China between 1500 and 1800 was quite similar to that in Europe during the same period. So why did Europe industrialize, but China did not? Review some of the factors that contributed to a robust economy in China, then examine why China and Europe set off on different economic trajectories. x
  • 15
    18th-Century Agriculture and Production
    Using Great Britain as a microcosm for Western Europe, examine several key changes in the relationship between agriculture and production that laid the groundwork for the Industrial Revolution. These changes include the increased centralization of government and the increased concentration of labor in the cities. x
  • 16
    Industrial Revolution: The Textile Trade
    Discover what Great Britain's burgeoning textile trade in the 18th century reveals about why this nation was the heart of the Industrial Revolution. Consider how the introduction of a popular new product generated significant market demand, how inventors solved the problems of their times, and why the steam engine is rightly considered the decisive factor that facilitated large-scale industrial production. x
  • 17
    British Coal, Coke, and a New Age of Iron
    During the Industrial Revolution, Western Europe learned to make iron products better, faster, and cheaper than ever before. Travel back to the age of iron and steel in this lecture that covers everything from new smelting processes and coke fuel to Henry Cort's inventions and the construction of early iron-frame buildings. x
  • 18
    Power: From Peat Bogs to Steam Engines
    Coal wasn't the only fuel in use during the Industrial Revolution. First, Professor Harreld introduces you to other power sources that were in use at the time (including peat and animal power). Then, he takes you inside the dramatic evolution of the steam engine-a new power source that would have an irrevocable impact on the progression of the world economy. x
  • 19
    A Second Industrial Revolution after 1850
    What makes the Second Industrial Revolution so different from its predecessor? Learn why the United States (thanks to close ties with Great Britain) was an early participant in this second phase, which saw the dawn of the American system of interchangeable parts and a stronger bond between science and industry. x
  • 20
    Family Labor Evolves into Factory Work
    Industrialization was not just a helpful force but also a disruptive one. In fact, many scholars believe it led to the breakdown of the working class family structure. Investigate what this meant for families, including the destabilization of wages, the gendering of occupations, the worsening of working conditions, and the rise of our modern ideas of class consciousness. x
  • 21
    Cornelius Vanderbilt and the Modern Firm
    Meet Cornelius Vanderbilt, the man who was a veritable centerpiece of the Industrial Revolution. You'll learn how this iconic industrialist amassed great wealth and influence, he formed his massive railroad empire, sparked the rise of the modern firm and management hierarchies, and came to epitomize the idea of the self-made individual. x
  • 22
    19th-Century Farm Technology, Land Reform
    From land reform to scientific farming techniques to new farm technology, explore the factors that transformed agricultural production in Europe and the United States. Topics include how America became the world's dominant agricultural power, the peasant rights that came from the French Revolution, and how farmers used new practices like crop-rotation systems and chemical fertilizers to increase the success of their crops. x
  • 23
    Speeding Up: Canals, Steamships, Railroads
    Railroads, steamships, telegraphs, telephones-each of these 19th-century innovations helped create the globalized, interconnected world that we currently inhabit in the 21st century. Follow the trajectory of the history of modern transportation and communication (with its emphasis on speed) as it relates to the story of economics. x
  • 24
    European Urbanization and Emigration
    By 1910, the population of Europe had tripled-and this expanding population provided manufacturers with a growing base of consumers to whom they could market goods. Professor Harreld uses 19th-century Paris as the perfect example of how a city handles (and mishandles) rapid urbanization and a huge influx of immigrants. x
  • 25
    Unions, Strikes, and the Haymarket Affair
    The Haymarket Affair in Chicago perfectly illustrates the social tensions industrialization generated-and which have yet to be solved. First, learn what we mean by class" and "class consciousness." Then, explore the unique goals of trade unions. Lastly, examine the growing politicization of labor, including the use of labor strikes and the philosophies of Marx and Engels." x
  • 26
    Banks, Central Banks, and Modern States
    Professor Harreld introduces you to the origins of modern banking. First, explore the major banking revolutions that took place in Great Britain, Belgium, and Germany. Then, examine how insurance companies developed in tandem with banks; how banks fostered industrialization; and how central banks played an important role in creating a stable economic environment by setting standards for international exchange. x
  • 27
    Understanding Uneven Economic Development
    Turn now to some of the factors that affected late 19th-century industrialization and, in some cases, led to uneven economic development among different countries. You'll learn how this unequal power in economic relationships contributed to a significant resentment toward capitalist systems in the West, with some countries feeling that industrialization had exacerbated economic disparity. x
  • 28
    Adam Smith's Argument for Free Trade
    How free" is the idea of free trade? Did all nations benefit from free trade? How were people convinced that free trade was the best option for the world economy? Learn why Great Britain was an early champion of free trade, and see how the economic crisis of 1870 led to a reversal of free-trade ideals." x
  • 29
    Middle-Class Catalogs and Mass Consumption
    Welcome to the world of mass consumption, which brought humanity into the modern economy for good. After examining what, exactly, the middle class" is, you'll ponder the economic important of mail-order catalogs, the dawn of department stores in the United States and Europe, and the birth of modern advertising." x
  • 30
    Imperialism: Land Grabs and Morality Plays
    In the late 19th century, Europe and the United States established control over much of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Examine the international treaties that decided the fate of nations and civilizations, the Opium Wars, theories of social Darwinism, and how nationalistic competition among industrialized countries came to dominate how the West interacted with the non-industrialized world. x
  • 31
    World War I: Industrial Powers Collide
    World War I was a global catastrophe that had an important effect on the world economy. First, focus on how the war put an end to free-trade policies and allowed governments to take more direct control of economic affairs. Then, survey the post-war economic world: a period of decline filled with falling production, population loss, enormous debts, and a return to protectionism. x
  • 32
    Russia's Marxist-Leninist Experiment
    Professor Harreld explains the socialist ideology of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which became the widely accepted variety of socialism in the early 20th century. You'll learn Marx's stages of development; how Lenin steered Russia on the path of war communism"; and how Stalin rejected the economic path laid out for Russia in favor of something much worse." x
  • 33
    The Trouble with the Gold Standard
    After World War I, the industrialized world turned its attention to a return to the gold standard. Go inside the stabilization of the international monetary system and examine the pros and cons of the gold standard. See why some industrialized countries failed to recover from the war, delve into the structural deflation" of the world economy, and consider the role played by U.S. isolationism." x
  • 34
    Tariffs, Cartels, and John Maynard Keynes
    Learn how John Maynard Keynes, a founder of macroeconomics, shattered the predominant economic thinking of the 19th and early 20th centuries. What made governments the best source for moderating swings in economic performance? What did economic policymakers fail to consider in the years leading up to the Great Depression? How did tariffs and cartels work to eliminate much of free trade? x
  • 35
    Japanese Expansionism: Manchurian Incident
    First, learn why Japanese domination of Manchuria (in preparation for an eventual larger war with the capitalist West) did little to solve Japan's economic problems after the Great Depression. Then, take an intriguing comparative look at the economic motives of imperialist Japan and Nazi Germany-both of which adopted some Keynesian economic policies to get out of their respective economic depressions. x
  • 36
    U.S. Aid and a Postwar Economic Miracle
    The Marshall Plan (also known as the European Economic Recovery Plan) was a major step toward returning the world to the free-trade policies of the pre-World War I period. Who was the man behind Europe's postwar economic miracle? How did these grand plans play out for nations that had been beaten down by the costs of war? x
  • 37
    Colonialism and the Independence Movement
    From Ghana to Algeria to Indonesia, many European colonies came under the influence of Marxist theories of self-determination. The result was a new generation of native leaders who either admired or reviled the Western capitalist movement. Go inside the post-World War II economic battle between communist and capitalist economic systems in the newly disputed colonial territories. x
  • 38
    Japan, the Transistor, and Asia's Tigers
    It took just 10 years after World War II for Japan's economy (along with that of Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore) to reemerge stronger than ever. Uncover the roots of this economic resurrection, including technology exchanges, expanded global trade, rising standards of living-and the humble transistor radio. x
  • 39
    The Welfare State: From Bismarck to Obama
    Ground the ongoing fierce debate about social-welfare programs in economic history. Here, you'll explore the origins of state-sponsored social welfare, the important role played by British economist and social reformer William Beveridge, the genesis of the welfare state during the Great Depression, the welfare race" between capitalists and socialists during the Cold War, and the basic risks welfare programs cover." x
  • 40
    The End of American Exceptionalism?
    The golden age of American capitalism was undoubtedly the 1950s and 1960s. Professor Harreld charts the development of American economic exceptionalism (aided by the U.S. automobile industry). He also examines how American exceptionalism was shaped by the Cold War, and considers whether or not it came to an end in the 1970s. x
  • 41
    Middle East: From Pawn to Power Broker
    Thanks to a global shift in fuel consumption, oil has been a weapon in geopolitical disputes for quite some time. In this lecture, discover how the global economy got to this point and how the developing countries of the Middle East began to play a central role in world economic affairs in the last quarter of the 20th century. x
  • 42
    Germany, the European Union, and the Euro
    First, probe the beginnings of the European Union in the uncertain days after World War II. Find out why supranational organizations would be attractive to potential member states, and witness the development of an early supranational organization: the European Coal and Steel Community. Lastly, follow the economic events that led to the formation of the European Union in 1993 and its common currency: the Euro. x
  • 43
    Free Trade: Global versus Regional Blocs
    Go back in time to examine the political economy of foreign trade (the relationships between markets and the state). Examine some of the various forms that international trade can take, including unilateralism and multilateralism, and study some of the modern world's most important, influential (and even controversial) trade organizations, including the Arab League and NAFTA. x
  • 44
    Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and the Soviet Decline
    Ultimately, the communist system of the Soviet Union (despite the best efforts of leaders like Gorbachev and Yeltsin) was unable to offer a viable alternative to the market economy, and it collapsed in 1989 and 1990. Follow the story of the end of communist rule, from failed reforms and populist action to shortages of consumer goods and the absence of open political life. x
  • 45
    Half the World Left behind in Poverty
    Why have some parts of the world been left behind in terms of economic development? Should we read the economic histories of Nigeria and Bangladesh as success stories or cautionary tales? What are the different types of foreign aid that exist, and how can they best combat issues like hunger and lack of housing? x
  • 46
    China, India: Two Paths to Wealth Extremes
    Take a trip to the new frontiers of the world economy. You'll learn how India, by promoting its wealth of human capital, and China, by promoting foreign investment, have become two of the world's great economic powers. You'll also consider the influence played by political figures, including Gandhi, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping. x
  • 47
    The Information Economy: Telegraph to Tech
    In this lecture, learn how our growing information economy is reshaping the way the world does business. Professor Harreld takes you back 500 years to reveal the evolution from a world when information was slow (and often out of date when it was received) to the 21st century, when information is instantly available and at a fairly low cost. x
  • 48
    Leverage with Globalization in Its Grip
    Discover how the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the Great Recession of 2008, and the Greek debt crisis of 2009 each, in their own way, highlight the interconnected nature of today's new global economy. As you'll learn in this final lecture, the two economic changes we now face include a new phase of globalization and the reorientation of capitalism toward debt-driven growth. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 48 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 48 lectures on 8 DVDs
  • 408-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 408-page printed course guidebook
  • Suggested Reading
  • Questions to Consider
  • Bibliography

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Donald J. Harreld

About Your Professor

Donald J. Harreld, Ph.D.
Brigham Young University
Dr. Donald J. Harreld is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Brigham Young University, where he has taught since 2001. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2000. A specialist in the social and economic history of early modern Europe, Professor Harreld has twice been named an Alcuin fellow by Brigham Young University for excellence in teaching general education courses. He is the...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


An Economic History of the World since 1400 is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 49.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overview of history This course is mostly about economics but bring together much more of history.
Date published: 2018-11-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from No Central Themes, Lots of Facts In this series, Professor Donald Harreld outlines in detail world economic history, from it’s origins in the 1400’s to modern day institutions. Professor Harreld is, without question, very knowledgeable on the topic presented and leaves no stone unturned in the historical landscape of economics. The attention to detail does have an unintended consequence; that is, a lack of a central theme that ties the course together into a coherent whole that the student can understand. We learn a great deal of detail in each lecture, but Professor Harreld’s vocal tone, pitch and intonation lack a kind of authentic passion. Moreover, Professor Harreld’s idea of history seems to be the recitation of minutiae; the memorization of important dates, canonization of terms and class types, and the historical fluctuation in the price of grain. This may simply reflect the subject matter itself and not necessary a poor performance by the Professor. I think that the large historical period covered would be far too much for any instructor to present with coherent historical themes. After watching these lectures, I can’t say I have a much better understanding of economic history; rather, the course informed me that this type of history should be avoided given my sample exposure to Professor Herreld’s course.
Date published: 2018-09-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thorough and comprehensive I am not yet finished with the course as I am doing several simultaneously. This is an extremely interesting and informative course. The lecturer is obviously very knowledgeable. My only negative is that he tends to be a monotone speaker.
Date published: 2018-06-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from No Jargon, No Axe to Grind This is a fair-minded, informative and quite long survey of world history as seen through the lens of economics. Although it took me a while to get through, I never considered giving up on this course, as several of the lectures were extremely interesting and the rest mildly so. Topics that stood out for me: * Consequences of the Black Death for the European labor market * Cultural background of the early explorers * Economic factors in colonization * Reasons for success of Asia's "Four Tigers" * Origins of social welfare practices * Global distribution of information from early printed price books to the telegraph to today's Internet The course is amazingly untechnical. The professor is inoffensive and competent in every way, and with no ideological bias that I could detect.
Date published: 2018-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation I found this course to be an absolute delight and was saddened when it ended. This lecturer has a surprisingly good presentation - he pretty much just stands there and talks! But every word counts! This could have been fatal, but his obvious knowledge an quiet enthusiasm make this spellbinding! I'll be watching it again, there is so much there to learn.
Date published: 2018-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprisingly fascinating As a business columnist, I thought I knew pretty much everything important about the economic history of the world. The topic could be deadly dull but Harreld hits a lot of hot button topics, analyzes issues objectively but with a point of view, and makes all of this really relevant to today. I learned a lot and glad it was a 4-CD course.
Date published: 2018-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting and helpful I recently finished this and was quite impressed. The professor covers and synthesizes a considerable amount of economic history in an understandable and interesting manner. One thing he might consider adding is more coverage of China and India. He does devote time to these two countries' histories. However, a bit more would be nice. After all, China in its various forms was the worlds "largest" economy between roughly 1700 and late 19th century. India, in its various forms, assumed the lead before that. But overall, this was excellent. I highly recommend this.
Date published: 2018-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good review of world economics A very good review of economics and how the world of today was shaped by economic forces over the last 600 years, a time characterized by phenomenal growth in economic output.
Date published: 2018-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and easy to do I really enjoyed this course.I also enjoy the ease of the format to access the information, allowing me to complete these at my own pace, usually during my lunch hour from the comfort of my office. Thank you Great Courses !
Date published: 2018-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Slow Start but Worth a little Patience This might be me but I found the early material, particularly on Asia, a little slow. But hold on! Once Dr. Harreld gets to Europe you are going to learn things about the real drivers of culture and historic change that you never imagined. I lived through the 60's, and 70's and I learned things about that age I never knew were going on. I found the professor very well informed and an excellent and well prepared speaker. His knowledge on the topic is vast and he really enjoys it. The transcript materials are also very good and helpful. This was a hard course to stay with sometimes but that is really because I just am not that interested in Asia, but there were lectures here that literally had me on the edge of my seat. The role of economics in driving everyday life is well understood, but we never seriously look at its effect on history. If you have ever been curious about that, get this course.
Date published: 2018-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent professor and course content This course is an absolute necessity as we enter the current political climate, I am much more informed in overall economic trends and consequences.
Date published: 2018-01-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Superficial and wrong It is astonishing that a professor conducting a course on economic history apparently believes that the Federal Reserve did not come into being "until the 1930s". This error is not just a slip of the tongue; it is repeated in the printed course guidebook. This is an unforgivable error in a course on modern economic history. No wonder the professor does not see any role for the Federal Reserve in causing the Great Depression, and has to search for other causes, alighting on gold. As others have said, it is dull and very superficial. I write as one with scores of Great Courses, most of which I rate extremely highly. this is very disappointing for anyone with any knowledgeable of the subject, and dangerous for those without.
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative and well-presented. we are really enjoying this course.
Date published: 2017-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An economic history of the world since 1400 I graduated UC Berkeley in 1967, with a degree in economics when few understood what that meant. My passion was economic history because it answered for me the question of "why are things the way they are?" Ever since I have been a student of history and economics, This course brought me back to my passion! Tim Hedemark
Date published: 2017-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Blend of Studies This course is a terrific blend of disciplines; economics, history, geography. The professor is well-schooled on all these. The course connects so much including the rise of civilizations, the effect of new technologies (agriculture, the plow, new weapons, new types of sailing ships), the problem of plague, the conflict of religions, and much more. That's just for starters. The rise of money, the invention of coinage, the rise of trade and trade routes, the expansion of populations, the need for material goods. Just buy it. You will not be sorry.
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Understanding history from an economic perspective Understanding history from an economic perspective help to fill gaps in knowledge and even purge common misconceptions about the past
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Different Historical Perspective This course presents an extensive overview of an important topic. I've taken history courses and economics courses, but this is the first presentation I've encountered that brings the two together focusing on how economic forces resulting from geography, natural resources, and the development of trade and technology affected historical, and ultimately current and future, events. The presentation of this course is rather dry compared to most Great Courses I've seen, but the professor does bring together the pieces of a complex subject in an understandable fashion. It covers so much that each lecture almost seems like it could be a topic for a full course.
Date published: 2017-05-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Poor production and superficial knowledge The production quality is very poor. Yes, the video is clear and the audio is clear. But this is basically an audiobook of a professor reading a textbook. There are no diagrams, very few pictures, very few graphs, no numbers, and few maps. 95% of the video is simply the professor talking, which again makes this more of an audiobook. The knowledge covered is also extremely superficial and is basically knowledge that any US and European History course will have already covered. They could have done so much with this course. I began watching in order to gain some economic insights. Instead I got a rehash of US and European history. The Atlantic Triangle Route? Slaves? Plantations? Scientific Revolution? These are covered in any elementary history textbook. This course is a waste of time for anyone educated.
Date published: 2017-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprisely good lectures This review is very similar to others on this course. If you are looking for excitement, this is probably not the course for you. However, if you are interested in interesting material presented in a cogent, clear manner, you will greatly like this course. The lecturer is not flashy, but he is very well prepared, and the material is very interesting. This is a general survey of world history with an economics focus. I usually don't generally like names and date history. However, the perspective here is quite different than the normal surveys based on wars and international relations. There is clearly some of that, but the focus on economic issues is new and unusual bent. I found that the lectures flew by. I am quite sure I will watch these lectures again the future. If you get this course, you will not be disappointed.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very mixed quality. Some of the material, especially in the earlier lectures, was very interesting and seemingly authoritative. Other lectures, those where I already knew something about the topic, were just embarrassing. For example, the lecturer, supposedly an economic historian, went through an entire lecture grossly mispronouncing the name of perhaps the most prominent economist of the 20th century each and every time the name came up -- John Maynard Keynes. The material on the Soviet Union also contained multiple small and large errors of fact and sequence.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Curious About Why Our Economy Is the Way It Is? Dr. Harreld is not an entertainer, he's a professor. And it shows. This insightful course is not for light viewing; it's a course in economic history. That's not everyone's cup of tea, but for those with an intellectual curiosity about how the world developed economically, it's a wonderful course. He provides vivid examples that are quite straightforward and help to explain how the West came from economic insignificance in comparison to the cultures of China, India and the Middle East to a leadership position. How did they do that? That's what you will understand after viewing this course.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overview of world economic history Watched this course on The Great Courses Plus and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great overview of economic history from the age of mercantilism right up to current globalization. I had always wanted to take an econ course and this one filled the bill.
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Course! This course was most interesting as I have not really been a student of history. My This course was most interesting as I have not really been a student of history. My undergraduate education was in engineering at a small school, probably inspired by Eisenhower’s actions to vastly improve the infrastructure of the US. As such my school was all engineering, all the time, with no liberal arts content Now retired I am focusing on learning more about liberal arts. Teaching Company courses like this fill the bill most admirably. Professor Herreld’s presentation was not exactly inspired but certainly able to convey the message of the course. At times he did gloss over some topics that I thought could have used more information. For example, in discussing European Socialism he did not provide any examples of rates which include taxes on Income, VAT, Pensions, and Healthcare, in addition to local taxes. Nor did he comment on the apparently changing attitude of socialism in light of the current economic status of the European Union. In his discussion of IBM he did not mention that prior to 1956 IBM only rented equipment on a month-to-month basis and did not allow for purchase of equipment by customers. This had a monopolistic effect on the part of IBM and was largely responsible for its growth. Long term leasing and purchase came only after a Consent Decree in 1956 forced some changes in IBM’s practices. Perhaps two courses of 36 lectures would allow for more detail on the effect of changes in the economic structures the affected regions. I recommend this course.
Date published: 2017-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Economic History ... A vast improvement over earlier courses. New stage setting, better camera work make it more interesting to watch. Very detailed book helps notice the high points in each lecture. Prof. Harreld is interesting to listen to; although occasional mistakes indicate that he is reading script from a teleprompter, not speaking off the cuff (this is not a criticism). Good class for studying with a friend.
Date published: 2016-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Informative This course takes the listener through an economic history of the world, mainly focusing on the West, from the end of the Medieval period through to the present. The course is generally sequential until the end where it becomes more topical. The topical sections are a little harder to follow because there was some overlap and disconnect. This distracted a little from the course, but the course was still interesting and informative overall. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in economics, though it may not be as interesting to others.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Strong interest needed I like the course because I am very interested in the subject matter. For those without a strong interest, the presentation is somewhat pedestrian. Could use more interesting charts graphs maps etc. and a little less monotone.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Solid Intro to the Dismal History Thomas Carlyle famously called Economics 'the dismal science' and I suspect paraphrasing his statement to explain this course wouldn't have offended him.. Comparing this course to a history like Civilization 2 which includes European royalty and World Wars is like comparing an basic economics course to something exciting in science like Astronomy or Quantum Physics. Economics is important, but is it exciting? No. The other potential misconceptions about this course is that it is an upper level college course that requires both economic and historical prerequisites. It is easy to understand and never delves too deeply. It is also not a history of economics, but rather a history of the modern world told through the lens of economics. So instead of wars we concentrate on trade wars and instead of Kings we learn about merchant princes and economic advisors to Kings. Those caveats aside, this is nice history course that views history through another lens. I've already looked at modern history from the viewpoints of religion, philosophy, science, exploration, war, royalty and even commoners thanks to the Great Courses, so this was a nice perspective to add. The Professor is clearly well qualified, likable and watchable. If he isn't one of the world's finest grandfathers, i miss my guess. He is not however dynamic in any sense, I did make sure to drink caffeinated rather than herbal tea as I tackled this series. He seemed even handed to me, the different economic theories were presented with their assorted warts and there was a fair assessment of what worked and what didn't and why. While understandable to home school high school students, it is likely too dull for most. The age of exploration course and the superb Civilization 2 would hold your students attention much better if you want them to actually like modern history. However if you have the Plus subscription you might sprinkle in a few lectures that compliment the area of history you are studying. All the lecture are intended to stand alone and can easily be watched as a one off lecture. In the end this course was worth taking, but not on my list of favorites or rewatchables. After thrilling to some of the truly great instructors in the hallowed halls of The Great Courses University, this kind gentleman didn't really inspire me nor the viewpoint really interest me. If non-sports fan will forgive the analogy, it is similar to having watched Elway and Manning pilot my beloved Broncos for years and now watching the fairly competent offense that lineups on Sundays here in Denver these days. Professional yes, thrilling no.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course on Economic Implications with History Some individuals may have the perception that this is a course on the history of economics but such a perception would not be totally correct. Instead, this course is a series of lectures that describes how historical events impacted the economy and how economic policies influenced historical events. For example, Professor Harreld describes how the discovery of the sea routes from Europe to India and the Spice Islands of Southeast Asia impacted the economies and development of Europe, India, and Southeast Asia. Professor Harreld also discusses how the economic policies of a country (e.g., high tariffs, export restrictions, free trade restrictions) impacted the development of the country’s infrastructure and the advancement of the country’s population. In these various lectures, Professor Harreld does an exact job of explaining of interrelationship of the economy with major world events such as plagues, wars, conquests, and imperialism. This course transverses the last 600 years of human history and shows how society and businesses have evolved. About 500 years ago, the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company were aggressively competing for the trading opportunities in India and the Spice Islands. In these former times, these companies had their own armies and warships and the aggressive competition included armed conflicts. However, today’s global mega-corporations like Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM, Samsung, etc. do not have armies or warships. Instead today’s aggressive competition occurs in the marketplace and, sometimes, in the courts for issues such as patent infringements. The world’s economic environment and business competition has certainly evolved over the last 500 years. I have taken many history courses from The Great Courses and my major concern has been that almost all of them end around World War II. Consequently, most of the history of the past 60 years is not discussed. However, in this course, Professor Harreld not only discusses the economic impacts of both World Wars but also continues well beyond. For example, Professor Harreld’s lectures includes the post WWII development of the Asia Tigers – Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. This course also explains the impacts to the Europe Union from recent events such as the 2009 economic crisis of Greece and the economic crisis that occurred in other EU member nations. Unfortunately, the Brexit vote is too recent to have been included in this course. Perhaps in a couple years, Professor Harreld can develop a supplemental course that discusses Brexit and other 21st Century economic history. Professor Harreld makes extensive use of maps, graphics, photos, and graphs to illustrate and explain the principles he is presenting. This supplemental information is a wonderful asset which helps make this course an excellent and highly recommended course.
Date published: 2016-11-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Please tell me it gets better I have the audio presentation which suits my commute. The presentation so far through 6 lectures is interesting in spots (e.g. the Black Death) but tedious to listen to. The vision is of a professor sitting and reading his book to us with little vocal variety. If it works better in video, I'll upgrade to that format.
Date published: 2016-10-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very Disappointed I am a long time fan of Great Courses, however, this one was a disappointment. It is a very general survey that lacks depth. There are almost no metrics, which strikes me a major flaw in a class on Economic History. Too much time is spent on technological advances and bios. Sadly I learned very little new info. The prof is very well spoken and obviously knowledgeable. The content is great for people unfamiliar with European history. However, it is too shallow for anyone with a good understanding of the past 400 years.
Date published: 2016-10-21
  • y_2020, m_11, d_26, h_16
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.12
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_2, tr_47
  • loc_en_US, sid_5670, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 74.54ms

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought

Buy together as a Set
Save Up To $19.00
Choose a Set Format