L&S Curricular Connections

L&S Discovery Courses

LS 80A

The Mastery of Nature: An Economic History of the World

Social and Behavioral Sciences

This Discovery Course asks why the average person in the world of 1800 was no better off than the average person of 100,000 BC – and why the quality of life of the average person has changed so dramatically in the subsequent 200 years. The first part of the course focuses on “Malthusian dynamics” – the response of population to income. The second part then asks how societies escaped the Malthusian trap for sustained increases in living standards. Methodologically the course will demonstrate how the tools of history and economics can be combined to shed light on these questions. Texts will include Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, David Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations and Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel.

This course is designed for undergraduates without previous exposure to the disciplines on which the instructor draws, in this case history and economics.

Barry Eichengreen faculty profile
Barry Eichengreen (Economics)

Terms Offered

  • Spring 2008