HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The first outcome of the course is the knowledge of Western economic thought in comparison with the thought of other great civilizations. The second no less important objective is to accustom students to recognize the relationships between economy, history, legal traditions, values and institutions of a population or a group. This means developing a basic methodological expertise in identifying socio-economic structures and the ways of thinking about them.
Course contents summary
The course is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the place of the economy in society, using interpretative models from disciplines such as Anthropology, Sociology, Economic history, Economics and Comparative law. These models will be applied to the historical interpretation of non-Western civilizations, characterized for centuries, by the embedding of economy in society and by the prevalence of customary law: "simple societies"; Hinduism; China; Islam. In the second part, the same theoretical models will be used in understanding the history of Western civilization. The Judeo-Christian tradition, the lasting influence of the ancient Greek philosophy, the legal, institutional and cultural framework of a partially self-regulating market economy will be dealt with. The third part will be devoted to the history of Western economic thought. For the sake of simplicity, economic science is here divided into three major schools of thought: individualism, holism, and institutionalism.
Part I. Foundations of anthropology and history of non-Western civilizations
4) Traditional societies: primitive societies, Hinduism, China, Islamic thought.
Part II. Western identity
1) The roots of the West
2) Judeo-Christian thought
3) The contribution of classical Greece
4) Western law
Part III. Major schools in economic science
1) Preceding centuries of preparation (II-XIV)
2) The first steps (XV-XVII)
3) Individualism (Scaruffi, Davanzati, Montanari, marginalism)
4) Holism (Cantillon, Quesnay, Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, Mill, Marx, Sraffa)
5) Institutionalism (applied economics, Toniolo, Veblen, Commons, Mitchell, Galbraith, Keynes, Schumpeter)
Learning materials are available at the photocopy service of the Department of Economics.
The basic knowledge will be transmitted through lectures using reproductions of works of art, photographs, tables and graphs. Indipendence of judgment and communication skills will be tested through research projects, discussions, exercises and questions designed to elicit simple and concise answers. This type of test is accessible to non-attending students through teaching materials and the tutorship of the teacher during office hours.
Assessment methods and criteria
Knowledge, understanding and learning will be assessed during the course, using exercises such as multiple choice questions and exercises involving listing, ranking and providing definitions. Tests of this kind can be found in the course learning materials and are highly recommended for preparation of the exam.
Examination: the exam is oral and consists of three questions, one for each part of the program, each worth up to ten marks. The questions assess knowledge, correct terminology, quality of delivery and understanding. A fourth question in the form of problem to solve assesses ability to apply knowledge.