Fall 2019

For a list of Political Economy courses, see here.

For Global Studies Special Topics courses, see here.

For Political Economy Special Topics courses, see below.



  • IAS 150 – (21941) Stephanie Ballenger – (TuTh, 3:30-5pm, 89 Dwinelle)
    “Commodities and Cultures in the Making of the World Economy” – This class explores how commodities can help us better understand connections between different social systems, worlds of meaning, and labor regimes. Starting from the premise that commodities are more than just “things” that humans produce, sell, trade and consume, the course seeks to elaborate how commodities are among the most useful tools for studying the cultures of global capitalism and the building of a world economy. Case studies are likely to include but will not be limited to silver, sugar, tobacco, cacao, cotton, coffee, tea, oil and cocaine. We will seek to understand not only the relationship between production and consumption, but the cultures of producing and consuming regions and how commodities shaped complex links between diverse peoples. More than world regions being bound together by expanding trade networks, the study of commodities helps us to better understand local, national and global power dynamics as they have taken shape over the last five hundred years – no small thing.

  • IAS 150.002 – (25236) – Tiffany Page – (TuTh, 9:30-11am)
    “Development and the Environment” – Humans have become increasingly aware of the environmental implications of how we have chosen to define and pursue economic development. There are many debates about how to respond to the environmental crises we are seeing, as well as who should be responsible for making and/or initiating changes in response. These debates emerge out of a context in which there is an unequal distribution of the impacts of many of these environmental issues and an unequal distribution of wealth both across and within countries. We will look at the history of economic development and how the environment was not a consideration during much of this history; the emergence of environmental awareness and the history of the environmental movement culminating in the present moment in which there is widespread consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change and the dire effects of this; how this awareness and understanding has raised questions about how economic development has been defined and is being pursued and the need for us to acknowledge and adapt to the environmental constraints we face. We examine the environmental impacts of a number of industries that countries are developing as part of their pursuit of economic growth, environmental critiques of these industries, and related alternative ideas about development. We conclude the course by reflecting on – based on what we have learned – how we, as a society, need to rethink development.

  • POLECON 24 – (23551) Alan Karras – (Tu, 4-5pm, 106 Wheeler)
    ” Political Economy in Contemporary Perspective “ – This weekly seminar, open only to freshmen, is intended to engage students in thinking critically about how to understand political economy in the world in which we all live. Students in this course will be required to subscribe to and read, REGULARLY, either (or both) The New York Times or The Economist. By engaging with both international and domestic current events, as presented in these publications, members of this class will accomplish two things. First, students will learn what is going on in the world outside of Berkeley. Second, they will learn to identify, isolate, and interrogate current events through the lens of political economy. This is especially important in the political climate in which we all live.

Political Economy Major Map

How to Declare a Major

The Berkeley Economy & Society Initiative (BESI)