An Economic History of the World since 1400

Course No. 5670
Professor Donald J. Harreld, Ph.D.
Brigham Young University
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Course No. 5670
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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.

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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

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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...
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An Economic History of the World since 1400 is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 48.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Course, but Could be Better Donald Herreld identifies many important economic changes and economic themes over the last several centuries. His analysis includes sloppy thinking in some areas, however. I will use his comments on globalization as an example, but I could use other examples to illustrate the same point. Herreld presents globalization as something beginning with Columbus and increasing over time. That is not necessarily wrong, but it misses the qualitative changes in globalization over time. Globalization began as exchanges of goods, often luxuries. Items such as sugar or tobacco would be produced in one area and traded to other areas. Eventually globalization evolved to included the trade of raw materials that were included in the production process. After that, globalization evolved further by shifting production or parts of production to different regions.
Date published: 2016-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Economic History Excellent course by Professor Harreld ,with great style and clearly spoken.
Date published: 2016-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important Piece of the Economic Curriculum This is an excellent course overall. I liked Professor Harreld’s presentation and the graphics and production were very well done. While covering 700 years of economic history in 48 lectures limits the degree of detail, Prof Harreld did a good job of stringing together the major events along the timeline. I started streaming the 48 lectures about two weeks ago. The first night I woke up at 5AM and couldn't get back to sleep so I watched a couple of lectures of Economic History before I had to get up. My inner clock got reset and I found myself going to bed a bit early, looking forward to watching without distraction 2 or 3 lectures every day between 5AM and 7AM until I’d finished the course.
Date published: 2016-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative! I found 'An Economic History of the World Since 1400' to be very detailed, comprehensive, and informative. Dr. Harreld engages his audience by providing factual and practical details and descriptions. He is able to simplify complex issues by breaking them down into easy to understand, logical subgroups. He illustrates his points using relevant examples of situations and events. He has a fluent, articulate speaking style which makes listening to the lectures quite enjoyable! (DVD Purchase)
Date published: 2016-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Economic History of the World My entire family has watched this educational accounting of the transition of money, power, influence, trade, knowledge and survival. It puts the study of economics in perspective with the growth of populations, agriculture, world travel, world cultures, great simple inventions and, with war and does it in a very interesting and gripping manner. This certainly explains the development of Europe and the Americas as different Western Cultures and financial centers. We loved it and will go back a time or two to focus on specifics to better understand the modern world we live and work in.
Date published: 2016-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazingly Interesting! This is a fantastic course and Prof. Harreld makes economics and history come alive. He is interesting, engaging and a joy to listen to. I highly recommend this course and hope others enjoy learning as much as I did.
Date published: 2016-09-09
Date published: 2016-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from For the motivated... Video download Dr. Harreld's AN ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE WORLD SINCE 1400 addresses a controversial issue. How was it possible that Europe — an economic backwater compared to Asia until the 19th Century — was the first to industrialize, and thereby accrue all the political and military benefits of superior wealth and power? More specifically, Europe was not a single unit advancing at the same rate. How did Britain, closely followed by Germany and the U.S., diverge from the rest of the world economically? __________________ Controversy arises from 3 popular explanations: CULTURE: The competitive relations between Europe's many states along with a Judeo-Christian tradition interpreted variously encouraged intellectual diversity and mutual emulation. Peripheral states in particular like Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and England sought advantages through exploration, piracy and trade after 1490. PLUNDER: The result was increased trade, yes, but where possible, to systematic, state-sponsored plunder, colonization, and the mass capture and exploitation of slaves. Traditional societies were also gradually transformed through the spread of capitalism and factory- or plantation-centered work methods. Ideally, colonizers wanted dependant colonies to supply raw materials and buy their finished products. GEOGRAPHY: Other thinkers such as Jared Diamond ("Guns, Germs and Steel") focus more on shoreline-to-landmass ratios, diseases, plant and animal bio-diversity and so on to explain Europe's early advantages. Why is this controversial? Cultural explanations imply that some values and beliefs are "superior." Plunder reduces economic development to zero-sum games and morality plays. Geographic arguments minimize human initiative and cultural influences. _______________________ So where does Harreld's ECONOMIC HISTORY fit in all this? Economic history is a vast field. Anyone trying to summarize the whole thing has two options. They can strive for comprehensiveness. The price is a certain plodding dullness. Or they can go for exciting, novel approaches like Jared Diamond did. Much more thought-provoking, engaging and memorable, but whatever doesn't fit is left out. Harreld's preference is comprehensiveness. A little bit of this.... A little bit of that.... You have to be motivated to stick with it through 48 lessons. ________________________ PROS • A clear, concise speaking style. • Very detailed and comprehensive. • Not limited to Europe and North America. Asia too plays an important role. • Cultural values are explored, especially in the first third of the course covering pre-modern societies. One fascinating lecture dealt with "redistributive economies", a clear example of value-driven miscommunication. • Social institutions such as guilds, municipal governments, national joint-stock companies are well-covered. CONS • Very little inflection. He projects few emotions. • Individual lectures can get bogged down in what seems to me, a non-expert, minor scholarly debates. Commodity prices, labor trends and so on. • On the other hand, major cultural issues are ignored in the second half of the course. Max Weber's famous "Protestant Ethics" explanation, for example, is not mentioned. Weber doesn't even appear in the bibliography. • Modern Asia is covered very superficially. Japan's model of government-directed, export-driven capitalism is not explained. It deeply influenced Korean and Chinese development (after Deng Xiao-ping). Taiwan's reliance on small-and-medium enterprises was another approach. He had 48 lessons. He could have done more. • Recent controversies are not commented on. Do trade deals hurt some sectors more than others? What about wealth and income inequalities? Is protectionism always bad? __________________ To sum up, this is an informative course. Padding is kept to a minimum. But comprehensiveness carries a price. ECONOMIC HISTORY is a chore to get through unless you are strongly motivated. Since this is an idea-driven subject, visual platforms are not needed. Audio should suffice. The guidebook is quite complete. Unfortunately, the bibliography is not annotated. Nor is there a glossary.
Date published: 2016-09-07
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