INTS 4310 – International Trade

The subject of this course is the theory, policy, political economy and history of the international organization of trade.   The field of international trade ranges from abstract theoretical modeling to policy controversies. In this course we will examine both—we will take care to explore neoclassical and heterodox trade theory, while also paying attention to important empirical, political economy and policy issues. Following the examination of trade theory we will explore contemporary debates in international trade.

INTS 4372 – Great Books in Political Economy

This seminar will examine in depth four extraordinary texts in the field of political economy, each of which represents a distinct theoretical tradition. The course will feature Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation, which is a central text for institutionalist economics; Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume I, which continues to be among the most important and influential texts in the history of political economy; Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, a vital contribution to the Austrian school of thought with immense influence today; and finally, an extraordinarily provocative contemporary text, JK Gibson-Graham’s The End of Capitalism (as we knew it), which presents a post-structuralist, feminist approach to political economy. Although the presentation in these texts is largely abstract, the seminar will examine their contemporary relevance.

INTS 4374 – The Ethical Foundations of Global Economic Policy (Graduate)

This course will explore important facets of what might broadly be called the “philosophy of economics.” Specifically, it will examine the normative commitments (i.e., the deep value judgments) that underlie economic policy prescriptions. Unfortunately, most economists who participate in policy debate pay little attention to the normative foundations underlying their prescriptions. Normative principles are largely taken for granted—often treated as obviously correct and beyond dispute. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, much discord in policy matters derives precisely from normative controversy. Reading policy debate critically therefore requires a careful engagement with normative theory, so that we can uncover and scrutinize the normative principles that lay buried beneath policy prescriptions.

In keeping with the above, this course will examine the normative theories that inform contemporary global economic policy debate. Time permitting, we will examine the normative positions mentioned above—welfarism (and utilitarianism), libertarianism, egalitarianism, and objectivism/relativism—and their role in neoclassical, Marxian, Austrian, postmodern and institutionalist economic theory. Though this course will emphasize abstract theory, we will explore in passing the linkages between these normative perspectives and contemporary global economic policy debate.

INTS 3701 – Professional Ethics and International Affairs

Over the course of their careers, graduates of schools of international affairs acquire professional positions in which they enjoy substantial authority and influence over the lives of others, an in which they encounter difficult ethical dilemmas that stem in part from their roles they perform and the expertise they enjoy. And yet, schools of international affairs typically do not offer courses on professional ethics in general, or on the professional ethical challenges that await those who will enter the world of international affairs in particular. This course is intended to begin to fill this gap in professional training.

INTS 3780 – The Ethical Foundations of Global Economic Policy (Undergraduate)

This course will explore the normative/ethical theories that underlie the most pressing debates today in global economic policymaking. Most people know that economists typically endorse the policy of “free trade,” or the outcome of “economic growth.” Indeed, economists advocate these so often that it seems self-evident that these are obviously desirable. But why is this so?  We will examine the role of ethical commitments even in “positive science” (the explanation of what is).  The course then will turn to and focus intensively on mainstream, neoclassical economic theory (the predominant approach to economics today). Following a brief overview of neoclassical theory, we will explore its ethical foundations (utilitarianism/welfarism) and the way in which these foundations affect its policy prescriptions. Then we will examine critiques of utilitarianism/welfarism, before turning to alternative ethical foundations for economics. We will see how these alternatives often yield very different sets of policy conclusions on today’s most important economic policy debates. In this connection we will explore libertarianism on the one hand and egalitarianism on the other.