American Politics and Economics
About the course
This is a year-long, challenging course (32 weeks) on American politics and economics. Each quarter ends with an exam and 1,000 word essay.
In the first semester, we will discuss the ideas that shaped the American political system and political life, including liberty, equality, individual rights, self-government, federalism, Christian religion etc. I will lecture on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the major figures of American political history. This semester is organized thematically. Students will watch one lecture per week (in which I present the kind of material one would find in a textbook) and the students read primary source material from American political history that relate to the theme of the lecture. Major primary sources include Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and The Federalist Papers. In a weekly 90-minute session, we discuss the lecture and the assigned readings.
In the second semester, we will discuss Western political economy, working through Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson and Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics. We will also read selections from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Röpke’s Humane Economy, and from the works of William Graham Sumner, Henry George, Friedrich Hayek, and others. While the focus throughout the course will be economic theory, we will discuss how these theories were applied in American history. As in the first semester, students will watch a lecture, complete readings and questions or quizzes, and attend a weekly 90-minute session for discussion.
- To learn classical and modern economic theories and how they were applied.
- To enable one to understand and analyze current economic conditions.
- To study the perennial questions of political, social, and economic life.
- To prepare for citizenship, economic life, and cultural engagement.
- To become proficient in the conversational approach to learning.
- To cultivate an appetite for learning as a way of life.
- Some of the readings are available online, and I will provide links or pdf versions.
- Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is easily found online, but I recommend having a hard copy.
- Students must have Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics (5th Edition).