The College of Arts and Letters is launching a new minor in economic and business history that will allow undergraduates from across the University to explore the intersections of history, economics, finance, labor, and capitalism.
Housed in the Department of History, the minor offers students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the political, historical, and economic complexities at play in the age of globalization, said Elisabeth Köll, chair of the department.
“If you look at our world in 2020, what our students — and we all — need to better understand is the larger context of the political economy of the United States and other countries and how that intersects with our lives,” said Köll, the William Payden Collegiate Chair and professor of history. “This minor offers a great way to explore these very complex issues through a historical approach to studying the institutional and intellectual evolution of economies, economic thought, and business in society.”
Students in the minor may choose four electives from among a wide range of topics including the history of trade and commerce, financial markets, gender in the workplace, history of capitalism, and labor history. The minor culminates with a new capstone course, Economy and Business in History, which Köll will teach in spring 2021.
“One of the great strengths of the undergraduate program in history is the breadth and extent of our course offerings,” she said. “History majors value the freedom to choose courses within the major according to their interests, and this minor will give students the chance to enjoy a similar freedom.”
While the minor may be especially beneficial for business, finance, and economics majors, Köll said it will be a valuable addition for students from any course of study in the College or University.
“This is where the humanities are most important and make a great contribution — by providing rich context. I think any analysis without a deeper contextual engagement is insufficient,” she said. “As historians, we see ourselves as real bridge-builders between the humanities and social sciences. We are contributing research by analytically looking at the past, and we are also enabling students to acquire comparative insights and problem-solving skills by applying historical concepts and frameworks when they look at the present and the future.”
“This is where the humanities are most important and make a great contribution — by providing rich context. I think any analysis without a deeper contextual engagement is insufficient.”
The minor was directly inspired by student feedback and the creative vision of colleagues, including director of undergraduate studies Jake Lundberg, Köll said. She recently began teaching a popular class on financial markets in global history, during which many students suggested more coursework on economic and business history. That course has 70 students enrolled for this fall alone.
The department plans to grow and enrich the minor in the future through a variety of special offerings — including guest speakers, conferences and workshops, and course offerings at Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway.
The history faculty is also planning to develop additional electives for the minor to complement its robust slate of courses offered and is open to future collaborations with other departments and schools across the University.
“This is a joint effort in the department, and we have many wonderful faculty members in the fields of qualitative economic history, the history of capitalism, business and labor history, and the history of development, who also focus on a broad range of geographic areas like Latin America, South and East Asia, Africa, the United States, and Europe,” Köll said. “They all have great scholarly expertise and research projects in these areas, and they are great teachers. Our faculty are predestined to do something like this.”
“This is a joint effort in the department, and we have many wonderful faculty members in the fields of qualitative economic history, the history of capitalism, business and labor history, and the history of development, who also focus on a broad range of geographic areas ... Our faculty are predestined to do something like this.”