The End of Prosperity
Last Updated: 05/05/2009
Faculty: Alan Nasser political economy, foreign policy
Faculty Signature Required: Students should submit copies of their most recent faculty evaluations and samples of their most recent non-fiction writing to Alan Nasser at the Academic Fair, December 3, 2008. Transfer students should bring unofficial transcripts and writing samples to the fair. Students unable to attend the fair may send transcripts and writing samples to Alan Nasser, The Evergreen State College, Seminar 2 A2117, Olympia WA 98505. For more information, contact Alan at (360) 867-6759. Applications received by the Academic Fair will be given priority. Qualified students will be accepted until the program fills.
Major areas of study include economics, politics, public policy, American studies and social history.
Class Standing: Juniors or seniors; transfer students welcome.
American history has seen, from its beginnings, a steady rise in most people's standards of living and economic security, and, with the exception of the 1930s Great Depression, robust economic growth. But since 1973 this has changed: the median wage has actually declined, economic inequality has skyrocketed, working people and students find themselves saddled with unparalleled debt, job security has never been lower since the Great Depression, students are no longer confident that they will find stimulating and well paid jobs, economic growth has slowed remarkably, and both the U.S. and the global economy are currently experiencing the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Unfortunately, many experts fear that America will never again experience the prosperity it enjoyed during what is called the "Golden Age", the years 1947-1973. What happened? Are the pessimists right about our future?
We will examine the course of U.S. economic, political and social history since the very end of the nineteenth century. This will require us to examine the nature of the economic, political and social structures that comprise U.S. capitalism. We will view these structures as dynamic in nature, always subject to development, transformation and possible degeneration.
Among the main developments we will study are the changes in the economic and social structures at the turn of the twentieth century, the emergence of large multinational conglomerate corporations in the early twentieth century, the U.S. response to the Soviet Revolution, the "roaring twenties", the Great Depression, the effects of World War II on the economy, the historically unprecedented prosperity of the Golden Age and the creation of the so-called "middle class", the end of the Golden Age and the beginning of the long period of austerity that continues to this day, and the heightened aggression of U.S. foreign policy that began with the Carter presidency and coincides with the beginning of the Age of Austerity.
This is a demanding, advanced, bookish program devoted to close and careful analysis of our readings. Good analytical skills are presupposed.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in social sciences, education, public policy, social services and politics.
Planning Units: Society, Politics, Behavior and Change