Syllabus for Economic Thought (ECON 4010)
Offered at California State University, Stanislaus by Economics Dept., Fall 1998, for 3 units

Class meets MWF 2:30-3:28 p.m. in 104 Classroom Building.
Instructor: Elaine Peterson  Office hours: M-F 10:00-11:00 am
Office: 101 B Classroom Building   Tues. 5:00-5:45 p.m.
Office Phone: 667-3327    ...and by appointment
Home Phone: 529-3804 (Please, no calls after 9:00)    
Course Description: Survey and comparison of the ideas and doctrines of major schools of economic thought from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, with emphasis on classical and Neoclassical economics, Marxism, Institutionalism, and Keynesian economics.

Course Objectives: Facilitate development of student's understanding of the evolution of economic ideas, the breadth and the gaps in economic thought.

Texts: Stanley L. Brue, The Evolution of Economic Thought, 5th ed., Dryden Press, Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Fort Worth, TX, 1994 and Martin C. Spechler, Perspectives in Economic Thought, McGraw-Hill, N.Y., 1990.

Selected readings: from websites and
and from David L. Prychitko, Why Economists Disagree: An Introduction to the Alternative Schools of Thought, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1997.

Grading: Class participation and short assignments        10%
                Leadoff of class discussion                             10%
                Preliminary report on term paper topic             5%
                Term Paper (15%) & presentation (10%)      25%
                Midterm                                                        25%
                Final Exam                                                    25%

Class participation and short assignments
Regular attendance is expected and reading should be done prior to class discussion to enable participation. Students who must miss a class should contact the instructor in advance or as soon as possible and may need to make up work. Attendance will affect the class participation portion of the grade. Short assignments may be announced in class or via email. All students should check their email regularly and should be included on a class discussion list. Any necessary changes to the schedule below will also be announced in class or via email. To join the discussion list for this class send an email message with only the word subscribe in the body of the message to The computer will automatically read the email address of the sender from your message and add it to the discussion list. You may also wish to communicate with your classmates through this discussion list. To send a message to the discussion list for this class send a message to

Leadoff of class discussion
Each student should leadoff a class discussion at least once during the semester. To leadoff a class discussion students should volunteer in advance to be particularly well prepared for a particular discussion in the schedule. They should discuss the reading in some detail and bring up any points they found particularly interesting, worth discussing in more detail, on which they have comments, or about which they have questions. If more than one student wishes to lead a particular discussion the first to volunteer will have that opportunity. Grading will be based on the thoroughness, clarity, and apparent reflection on the ideas at hand. If a student leads off more than one class discussion the higher grade will be counted for the leadoff portion of their overall grade and the extra activity will be taken into consideration in the class participation portion of their grade. Students are encouraged to undertake this activity early in the semester.

Term Paper
The term paper should briefly discuss the contributions of a particular economic thinker and then summarize and analyze one particular piece of their work. The paper should be approximately 10-15 double spaced pages. In the interests of broadening students’ horizons and because some economists would make better dissertation topics than semester term paper topics, students are actively discouraged from choosing Adam Smith, Karl Marx, or John Maynard Keynes. Your text, books such as Mark Blaug’s Great Economists Before Keynes: An Introduction to the Lives & Works of One Hundred Great Economists of the Past and Mark Blaug’s Great Economists Since Keynes: An Introduction to the Lives & Works of One Hundred Modern Economists which are on reserve in the library, and websites such as and may be helpful in choosing an economist whose work you would find interesting. Students should also feel free to consult with the instructor and keep in mind that their topic must be approved by the instructor to receive credit. All sources should be cited. Be careful to use your own words. Plagiarism will result in a failing grade. Students are welcome to submit preliminary drafts. Students may also discuss their papers together and give each other helpful comments on their papers. If you receive substantial help from another student in the class you should cite them in your paper. In the economics field professional recognition is given for frequent citation, similarly if your paper is good they will be given extra credit towards the class participation portion of their grade.

Preliminary report on term paper topic
In the economics profession it is common to require the topic of a paper for a conference to be submitted before the paper has actually been written. Similarly in this class students are required to submit in writing a preliminary report on the term paper topic indicating the person whose work they have chosen to analyze and some of the sources they plan to use. The paper subject must be approved by the instructor. In the interests of avoiding redundancy in student presentations, multiple students will not be allowed to cover the same economist. If more than one student chooses a particular economist, the first to submit the preliminary report will be approved.

One of the most common ways economic ideas are currently developed and disseminated is through their presentation at conferences. Similarly in this class students are required to present their term paper work to their classmates. The presentation should briefly cover the contributions of a particular economic thinker and then summarize and analyze one particular piece of their work. Since time for presentations will be limited students are advised to plan their presentations carefully. Students should feel free to use any visual aids they feel will facilitate understanding of their presentation such as overheads or handouts. These can be particularly helpful if you are nervous. Grading of presentations will be based on organization, thoroughness, clarity, apparent thought on material as well as timing and handling of class comments and questions.

Students are encouraged to work together in studying, but not during exams. Cheating will result in a failing grade. Exams will involve essays. Essays should be well organized and thorough to indicate understanding and thought regarding the material covered. Examples of practice essay questions used last year can be found through the course web page for this class
Class  Topic Readings
W Sept. 9 Introduction & Overview  Brue Ch. 1
F Sept.11 Mercantilism  Brue Ch. 2 & Spechler Ch. 2
M Sept. 14 The Physiocrats  Brue Ch. 3
W Sept.16 Prelude to Classical Economic Thought  Brue Ch. 4
F Sept. 18 Classical Economic Thought Overview  Spechler Ch. 3
M Sept. 21 Adam Smith  Brue Ch. 5
W Sept.23 Thomas Malthus  Brue Ch. 6
F Sept. 25 David Ricardo  Brue Ch. 7
M Sept. 28 Jeremy Bentham, Jean-Baptise Say, and Nassau William Senior  Brue Ch. 8
W Sept.30 John Stuart Mill  Brue Ch. 8
F Oct. 2 Early Socialist Thought  Brue Ch. 9
M Oct. 5 Karl Marx  
Tentative Guest Speaker Dieter Renning
Brue Ch. 10 & Spechler Ch. 4
W Oct. 7 Karl Marx Brue Ch. 10 & Spechler Ch. 4
F Oct. 9 Marginalism Brue Ch. 12
M Oct. 12 Marginalism (continued)  
Preliminary report on term paper topic due
Brue Ch. 13 
W Oct. 14 Marginalism (continued) Brue Ch. 14
F Oct. 16 Midterm Exam  
M Oct. 19 Discussion of Midterm exams  
W Oct. 21 Alfred Marshall, Neoclassicist Brue Ch. 15 & Spechler Ch. 5
F Oct. 23 Alfred Marshall, Neoclassicist (continuation)  Brue Ch. 15 & Spechler Ch. 5
M Oct. 26 Modifications of Neoclassical Economics  Brue Ch. 16
W Oct. 28 Modifications of Neoclassical Economics  Brue Ch. 17
F Oct. 30 Historical School  Brue Ch. 11
M Nov. 2 Institutionalism  Brue Ch. 19 & Spechler Ch. 8
W Nov. 4 Institutionalism & John Maynard Keynes  Brue Ch. 21
F Nov. 6 John Maynard Keynes & The Keynesian School Brue Ch. 21 & 22
M Nov. 9 The Keynesian School  Brue Ch. 22
W Nov. 11 Welfare Economics Brue Ch. 20
F Nov. 13 Mathematical Economics Brue Ch. 18
M Nov. 16 Development & Growth Theories Brue Ch. 23
W Nov. 18 Student Presentations  
F Nov. 20 Student Presentations  
M Nov. 23 Student Presentations  
W Nov. 25 Student Presentations  
F Nov. 27 Thanksgiving Break no class  
M Nov. 30 New Classicism Brue Ch. 24
W Dec. 2 Milton Friedman "The Role of Monetary Policy", The American Economic Review, March 1968, p.1-17. Friedman article
F Dec. 4 Why Do Economists Disagree? Prychitko Introduction
M Dec. 7 Alternative Economic Thought: The Feminist Challenge Prychitko Essay 12 (Woolley)
W Dec. 9 Goffe & Parks "The Future Information Infrastructure in Economics"
Internet article
F Dec. 11 Summary & Conclusions(last class) Term Paper due Brue Ch. 25
FINAL EXAM MONDAY DECEMBER 14 1:50 p.m.-3:50 p.m. C104 (Comprehensive)