Part 3 of 6 in series "Recommended online courses"

In the first two posts in this series I introduced five ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCs) in the area of philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) that give you a strong foundation to critically reflect on the morality of markets, and three courses to further deepen your knowledge on economics growth, (in)equality and well-being. In this post, five courses to deepen your knowledge on other topics that often come up in debates on the morality of markets, namely capitalism, marxism and globalization:

  1. American Capitalism – A History
  2. Capitalism: Success, Crisis and Reform
  3. Mao to Now: On Chinese Marxism
  4. International Affairs: Globalization
  5. Global Markets and Personal Impacts

1. American Capitalism – A History

This course on the history of American capitalism, taught on the EdX platform by two professors of Cornell University (USA), addresses the following:

“Perhaps no story is as essential to get right as the history of capitalism. Nearly all of our theories about promoting progress come from how we interpret the economic changes of the last 500 years. This past decade’s crises continue to remind us just how much capitalism changes, even as its basic features—wage labor, financial markets, private property, entrepreneurs—endure. While capitalism has a global history, the United States plays a special role in that story. This course will help you to understand how the United States became the world’s leading economic power, revealing essential lessons about what has been and what will be possible in capitalism’s on-going revolution.”

The course does not assume any knowledge in economics. One question listed in the FAQ section is the following: “Is this class about economic thought like Smith, Marx, Ricardo, Hayek, etc.?”  This is the answer given:

This class is primarily about what actually happened rather than theories of what happened. While we will touch on important economic thinkers, this class will focus more on the people and institutions that developed capitalism in the United States. If you want to know how capitalism works and came about, this is the class for you.

See also the course promo film at the top of this blog post.


2. Capitalism: Success, Crisis and Reform

While the previous course claims to be mainly descriptive, this course on ‘success, crisis and reform’ of capitalism is more explicitly normative. The course,  taught by faculty from Yale University (USA) on their own online course platform, explicitly discusses the “good and bad consequences of capitalism“, covering the following ground:

“In this course, we will seek to interpret capitalism using ideas from biological evolution: firms pursuing varied strategies and facing extinction when those strategies fail are analogous to organisms struggling for survival in nature. For this reason, it is less concerned with ultimate judgment of capitalism than with the ways it can be shaped to fit our more specific objectives — for the natural environment, public health, alleviation of poverty, and development of human potential in every child. Each book we read will be explicitly or implicitly an argument about good and bad consequences of capitalism.”

It is a self-paced course, without an opportunity to earn a certificate. A major disadvantage is that it was recorded back in 2009, so that more recent developments will not be discussed. Here is the introduction video:


3. Mao to Now: On Chinese Marxism

Having learned so much on (American) capitalism and its history, you might be interested in learning more on Chinese Marxism as very different historical development and ideology. The fundamental questions asked in this course Mao to Now are the following:

  1. “Is China socialist or capitalist today, or is it perhaps both at one and the same time?”
  2. “Is there such a thing as Chinese socialist democracy, and, if so, what is it?”
  3. “Does China have its own theory of human rights, drawn from the long Chinese tradition and Marxism?”
  4. “If the Chinese state is a form that has not been seen before, then what is it?”

You will among others learn “how Mao Zedong is understood today in China“, “what a Chinese socialist state might be” and “the meaning of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’.

The course is taught on the EdX platform by the University of Newcastle (Australia). Here is the promo video of this course:


4. International Affairs: Globalisation

Markets are nowadays more global as ever, and this cannot be ignored in discussions on the morality of markets. This course on globalisation, developed by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Switzerland), is made available on the FutureLearn platform. Here is the course description:

“Understanding globalisation – a topic that dominates political and economic discourse worldwide – is important for anyone who cares about our planet’s future and wants to help shape it. This online course introduces economic globalisation, and its impact on society past and present.

We’ll explore globalisation’s historical impact on humanity and the world’s economic geography; the broad-brush economics that explain how and why globalisation affects our lives; and how changes in globalisation require new approaches to economic and social policy.”

Topics covered are the following:

  • “Globalisation’s historical impact on humanity and the world’s economic geography”;
  • “The elementary economics that explain how and why globalisation affects economies, workers, and the global economic geography”;
  • “Discussion on how changes in globalisation require new approaches to economic and social policy.”

The professor teaching this course is also editor of the policy portal VoxEU.org. Here is his promotion video:


5. Global Markets and Personal Impacts

This course on ‘global markets and personal impacts’ is taught by the University of Washington (USA) on the EdX platform. This is what it is about:

“This globalization course  focuses on the ways market-led macro-economic reforms associated with globalization (such as free trade agreements and privatization initiatives) have come together with much more micro innovations in how personal behavior is organized by market forces (rethinking education as a personal investment practice, for example, or outsourcing dating to for-profit companies).”

What will you learn in this course? The following, according to the course description:

  • “Describe the main debates and controversies surrounding globalization;
  • Analyze the ties and tensions of uneven global development;
  • Understand the growing impact of global market integration;
  • Synthesize knowledge of market globalization with your own experiences of market forces and market reforms;
  • Evaluate the way in which market forces define and delimit personal choices and everyday life globally;
  • Develop capacity to respond and reflect personally amidst the ties and tensions of market-led

Watch the promo video to determine if this is the course for you:


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Series "Recommended online courses":

The morality of markets is a complex topic. Do you feel like you have enough knowledge to make a sensible contribution to the debate? If not, this series of blog posts introduces some ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) that you can take from anywhere in the world.


Articles in this series:
  1. Five Foundational Online Courses in PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS and ECONOMICS that Help You Reflect on the Morality of Markets
  2. Five Online Courses on (American) CAPITALISM, Chinese MARXISM and GLOBALIZATION to Deepen Your Knowledge
  3. Four Online Courses on ECONOMIC GROWTH, (IN)EQUALITY and WELL-BEING to Deepen Your Knowledge
  4. Four Online Courses in BUSINESS ETHICS to Work on Better Markets at the Personal / Organizational Level
  5. Five Online Courses on DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY
  6. Five Online Economics Course on HOW MARKETS WORK