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Global History of Capitalism

Princeton University via edX

5 Reviews 1103 students interested

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Since the global financial crisis of 2008, there has been an explosion of interest in the history of capitalism. Some narratives focus on enormous waste, environmental destruction, overpowered corporations, exploitation of workers, or outrageous inequality. Others are more positive, telling a story about unparalleled prosperity, longer life expectancies, integration of markets, connectivity among peoples, and poverty alleviation.

In this course, we emphasize the complexity of capitalism over such neat narratives. By looking at capitalism through a global lens, we investigate multiple types of explanations and impacts on local, national, regional and global levels. We also examine a range of different topics deeply connected to the evolution of capitalism; including labor relations, migration, commodities, consumption, finance, war, imperialism, development, energy, and the environment.

Some of the questions we will discuss in this course are:
  • How is capitalism related to globalization?
  • What are the important institutions of global capitalism?
  • How can we understand consumption and capitalism by following the production, supply and demand chains of commodities like rubber, sugar or petroleum?
  • What is the role of the state in the development of capitalism, and is there a relationship between capitalism and empire?
  • Is global capitalism environmentally sustainable?
  • Why did some countries industrialize, while others didn’t?
  • Why do labor markets develop?
  • Is there an inherent tension between capitalism and democracy?

Taught by

Teal Arcadi, Caitlin Harvey, Rob Konkel, Felice Physioc, Miles Macallister and Niharika Yadav

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Reviews for edX's Global History of Capitalism
4.2 Based on 5 reviews

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  • 1
Karen C
5.0 2 years ago
by Karen completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I have very little background in economics, so I took the course to understand some of the basic concepts and vocabulary. They tried a different approach in this mooc - a roundtable discussion rather than lecture/quiz - and I applaud that. I think it was successful. As a beginner, I frequently felt lost when reading the articles, but the videos helped to some degree, and the graded material was indeed at the basic level; yet there was room, in forum discussions, for far more in-depth exploration of topics. I think this was a great approach for a mooc that might attract students at many different levels of preparation.

fmi see post on my personal blog at
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1.0 6 months ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
This was the only course I have ever quit after the fourth unit because is was a total and complete waste of time. A bunch of smug students mouthing obscure quotes from their even more obscure text book authors

Particularly the South Asian woman who can’t wait for the revolution was just a waste of time. Compare this to the Cornell class Those professors were leftists but they taught a course rich in facts,history, and information I did not know. None of that here.

Princeton did not aquit itself well here. Without universities where would useless socialists work?
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5.0 6 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Wonderful class! The instructors really made the content accessible despite my limited background in economic history, and even with short readings were able to start a lot of thought-provoking conversations. I feel better informed about the major themes in the history of and discussion surrounding capitalism and am excited to hopefully learn more in the future.
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Richard E
5.0 6 months ago
by Richard completed this course.
The course covers success and failure behind a model born after the industrial revolution ... The inability of the system to erase poverty, to be sustainable by not harming earth's ecosystem and why it is a better alternative to communism, fascism or zoocialism not to mention : slavery, serfdom or mercantilism
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Uriel A
5.0 10 months ago
Uriel is taking this course right now, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
very informative, and important, course - capitalism has shaped the world we live in. knowing how we got here is the first step in making it better.
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