The Interaction of Politics and Economics

How do political factors and economic systems overlap to produce global prosperity and poverty?

May 10, 2022

The Political Economy of Development (POL 354) mixes politics and economics — each inseparable from the other. Political factors such as electoral systems, international security, and collective action are not isolated from economic factors including innovation systems, intellectual property, comparative advantage, and market failures. This phenomenon of political and economic interaction influences an array of world issues — climate, maternal mortality, economic liberalization, and colonialism. You will come away from this seminar with a better understanding of how these factors interact and overlap to produce global prosperity and poverty.

“The seminar is popular with political science majors, but it attracts students from across the campus. No matter your major, whether chemistry or Chinese, as a person you are affected by the themes of this course,” says Associate Professor Barry Driscoll. “The class really benefits from breadth of background and ideas among students — that breadth is precisely what the liberal arts is about.”

The class incorporates simulations, debates, and research presentations, along with seminar discussions. You’ll learn how to read the latest data-heavy social science research, even without training in statistics. This has proven particularly beneficial for students headed for graduate school, who enjoy an advantage in their advanced coursework. 

“Part of the class involves training in data visualization software. I have had students go on to work at places like IMF or Google, and they’ve told me they used the same software skills years later,” says Driscoll. “At the start of each semester, my students tell me what they want to achieve in the course. Generally, they want to explore whether a career in the world of international development is of interest to them, which I can help with because of my background with the United Nations and the World Bank. Or they just want to be more intelligent consumers of global affairs.”

Many students express a desire to learn about global poverty because they want to be good citizens in a global community where billions of people have disadvantages not of their own making. 

Learn more about Political Science at Grinnell

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