Last fall, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, two econ professors from George Mason University, launched MRUniversity, a MOOC platform that brings economics courses to the larger world. (If Tyler Cowen’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re already familiar with his blog Marginal Revolution or his “Economic Scene” column for the New York Times.) Fast forward to this spring, and MRUniversity now offers courses on The Eurozone Crisis, Mexico’s Economy, The American Housing Finance System, and, as of this month, The Great Economists. The short course description for Great Economists: Classical Economics and its Forerunners reads:
Who were the first economic thinkers? What are the very origins of economic thought? What did earlier economists understand but has been lost to the modern world? Why is Adam Smith the greatest economist of all time? How did the economic issues of the 18th and 19th centuries shape the thoughts of the classical economists? This class, which covers the history of economic thought up until the “Marginal Revolution” in the 1870s, will answer all of these questions and many others.
The course starts with Galileo and the theory of value; touches on Montesquieu and Mandeville; offers to an introduction to Mercantilism and the Physiocrats, and then really comes to focus on David Hume and mostly Adam Smith and his classic treatise, The Wealth of Nations (find it in our collection of Free eBooks), before turning to later thinkers and periods.