84700 - Economic History of innovation

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, the student will have acquired a solid knowledge of the history of economic innovation in the long term, with particular attention to crucial turning points in human history, and a major focus on the last three centuries. The student will be able to discuss the role of specific actors that contribute to (or curb) innovation in human societies, and how the question of innovation intersects with other major phenomena of the contemporary world, such as globalization, the divide between developed and less developed countries, and inequality. Finally, the student will become conversant with the major historiographical schools in the history of technology, innovation, and growth.

Course contents

Course contents

The course will analyze how technological change has affected the long-term evolution of human societies, in conjunction with institutional and economic developments. A long-term historical perspective will provide insight into some of the crucial issues of today’s world, such as environmental issues, war, and development.

Learning aims

By the end of the course, you will be able to discuss the fundamental role of technology in the history of human societies. You will also be able to examine critically the scholarship on the economic history of innovation.

Readings/Bibliography

Mandatory readings for students attending class

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are strongly encouraged to order books well in advance of the start of the course, as delivery time may be significant. You are expected to have access to each text at the time we discuss it.

Joel Mokyr (2017), A Culture of Growth. The Origins of the Modern Economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press

John R. McNeill (2000), Something New Under the Sun. An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World, London: W. W. Norton

Richard Baldwin (2016), The Great Convergence. Information Technology and the New Globalization, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

Steven Johnson (2010), Where Good Ideas Come From. The Natural History of Innovation, London: Penguin

Geoffrey West (2017), Scale, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

 

Mandatory readings for students not attending class

Joel Mokyr (2017), A Culture of Growth. The Origins of the Modern Economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press

John R. McNeill (2000), Something New Under the Sun. An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World, London: W. W. Norton

John McNeill and Peter Engelke, The Great Acceleration. An Environmental history of the Anthropocene since 1945, Harvard University Press, 2016

Richard Baldwin (2016), The Great Convergence. Information Technology and the New Globalization, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

Steven Johnson (2010), Where Good Ideas Come From. The Natural History of Innovation, London: Penguin

Geoffrey West (2017), Scale, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Steven Johnson (2014), How We Got to Now, London: Penguin

Marc Levinson (2008), The Box, Princeton: Princeton University Press

Teaching methods

Lectures and class discussion. Depending on the number of students attending the course, class presentations by students on specific topics may be organized, in consultation with the instructor.

Assessment methods

Mid-term exam.

Term paper.

Prerequisites

As this is a post-graduate course, you are expected to be conversant with the economic history of the world from ancient times to the present. You can use:

Rondo Cameron and Larry Neal, A Concise Economic History of the World, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015

C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780 - 1914, London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003

C.A. Bayly, Remaking the Modern World 1900-2015: Global Connections and Comparisons, London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2018

Office hours

See the website of Michele Alacevich