ECON 230 Economic History of the United States Course Guide

Course Description

This course explores the economic development of the United States from early beginnings to present time. A chronological approach is used to study historical events using an economic lens of the major issues of each period. The particular periods examined are the colonial economy and the War of Independence; the antebellum economy and the Civil War; reunification during the postbellum era; the rise of American industry and labor; the rise of American finance; the Great Crash and the Great Depression; the post-WWII economy and the Great Recession.

Assessable Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and explain the main themes of U.S. economic history in a chronological context
  2. Explain and critique the differing causes of historical economic events
  3. Evaluate the merit of competing theoretical perspectives
  4. Analyze historical events using an economic framework
  5. Critique and evaluate alternative perspectives of U.S. economic history
  6. Create an economic perspective that relates to current issues

Course Outline

  1. Introduction and Theories of History
  2. The Great Recession
  3. The Colonial Economy and the War of Independence
  4. The Antebellum Economy and the Civil War
  5. The Postbellum Southern Economy and Reunification
  6. The Rise of American Industry and Organized Labor
  7. The Rise of American Finance
  8. The Great Crash and the Great Depression
  9. The Post-WWII Economy

Recommended Teaching Methodology

A primary objective in teaching this class is to engage students in critical thinking about American economic history and its dynamics.

The primary method of teaching will likely stress interactive lecture and class discussion. Presentations should clarify and amplify text material, providing students with the opportunity to engage in discussion regarding course topics. Instructors should seek to limit the amount of lecturing in the traditional sense, where text material is repeated in a different format.

Secondary methods include the discussion of relevant articles and cases that provide examples and insight into economic perspectives on historical problems and policy. Articles and cases may be assigned for oral and/or written presentation and discussion. A major writing assignment will allow students to apply the tools developed and topics discussed in class to a relevant historical topic, such as a financial panic.

Recommended Assessment Measures

Regular assessment serves at least four objectives within this course. First, assessment provides feedback to students on their achievement and shortcomings while a course is underway. Second, assessment may provide an incentive for students to actively engage and study course material. Third, assessment is the process by which student evaluation is quantified for purposes of course grades. Finally, assessment provides feedback to the faculty on student achievement of course objectives. Design of assessment measures for the course should satisfy each of these objectives.

1. The primary method for assessing the attainment of knowledge is through midterm and final exams. Exams must be designed to assess the student’s level of understanding and ability to discuss material, from the text and class discussions, that is directly related to the learning objectives.

2. Students will become engaged in a major research paper. The final written product will provide evidence of the degree to which leaning objectives 2-6 are satisfied, and objective 4 listed above.

Statement of Expectations

Students should expect that the average weekly workload in this course would be three hours in class plus a minimum of six hours of reading, studying, and assignment preparation. It is expected that students address issues of history and economics with equal vigor. A chronological knowledge of historical events and their causes is central to the course.

The material covered in this course is not easy—economics is inherently difficult, especially in a very competitive environment. Most of the learning that will take place will not happen in the classroom. Students should understand that most learning takes place when they are working on the material outside of class, when they are reading, thinking critically, analyzing, and applying concepts and techniques. The amount that students learn and the level of skill that is developed will be directly related to the amount of effort that is expended. Classes are opportunities to discuss and apply the material, and to develop communication and leadership skills. They are also opportunities for professors to provide insight, to help students attain understanding, and for the evaluation of performance.

Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills

The most important prerequisites are an interest in the subject, a willingness to commit the necessary resources in terms of time and intellectual effort, and a desire to actively participate in the learning process. The formal prerequisite is ECON 101. This course will require a challenging mix of analytic, writing, and oral communication skills. Students should be prepared to deal extensively with the graphs, algebraic concepts, and detailed technical language. Students having concerns about their level of preparation should see their instructor.

Institutional Mechanism for Providing Feedback for Continuous Quality Improvement

Individual professors teaching this course will evaluate each student based on course objectives. Performance assessments will be summarized and reported to the department head or a designate, with separate assessments for relevant learning outcomes. Performance assessments from multiple sections and professors will be compiled into a single comparative report. This report will be utilized for periodic evaluation of ECON 102. The fundamental objective of reviewing student outcomes across course sections is to provide regular feedback for improving instructional effectiveness.