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  • 3 reviews
  • 2 completed
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I found myself extraordinarily frustrated with HIST1514x - American Capitalism. The course is substantially misrepresented: it is not a history of American Capitalism but rather two professors' perspective on how the American economic system was built upon the victimization and exploitation of disadvantaged classes. Certainly there is bad to go with the good in American economic history, but professional investigation and communication of the subject requires balance. Balance, however, is the one thing this course lacks. In other words, this class is not a history but a long political polemic. The course would be more accurately titled HIST1514x - Political Perspectives on Exploitation in America. A quick look at the detailed syllabus (segment-by-segment rather than week-by-week) reveals that the lectures focus with intensity upon slavery and segregation and sharecroppers and union movements. However, the lectures skip rapidly past the infrastructure and enablers of American Capitalism with a quick mention if any. Immigration and railroads are afforded quick remarks. Development of markets is dismissed derisively as a "new kind of gambling." Westward expansion and Homestead Act are not mentioned. Linkage of production to prostitution are explored but not the effects of economic growth upon the standard of living of the average worker. These biases are perhaps to be expected given that Dr. Baptist's particular research interest is slavery and that Dr. Hyman is a professor in the department of labor relations. However, a course that pretends to explore American Capitalism deserves a broader range of expertise in economics and history. The course's discussion needs to be able to explain why the U.S. is not just another state based upon the oppression of the masses, as Profs. Baptist and Hyman seem to imply, but probably the world's most successful experiments in economic development; how immigration built from wide frontiers the third most populous nation on the planet; and why capitalism as spread by the U.S and similar nations has become the dominant economic ideology of the globe. I attempted to raise these issues with professors and edX but received no reply. Overall, a waste of time if you have a real interest in the history and evolution of American capitalism. Certainly the most wretched course I have taken through edX or Coursera.,
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I was very excited to begin this course but, in the end, it was easily one of the worst classes I have taken through either edX or Coursera. The lectures covered the materials at an inadequate level of detail, such that reading the text was necessary to do truly well on the assessments. This had the effect of really transforming the class into one which was little more than reading the text and then taking an online assessment: it failed to leverage the power of the internet or multimedia environment. I did not take the final because it was, simply put, INSANE. It covered the material in a depth that was only appropriate to those who already had a deep background in mathematical theory and so did not remotely reflect the material of the course. All in all, a great disappointment.
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This is a phenomenal course. Mike Brown is a passionate professional in this field and brings both knowledge and wry humor to the subject. The material presented is absolutely fascinating and leaves you hungering for more! Facts and opinions are supported by simulations, video and hand drawn (carefully premeditated) illustrations. Speculation and "I don't know" are labeled with refreshing intellectual honesty. My only complaint is that the assessments are difficult as much for ambiguity and subtlety as for detailed interrogation of acquired knowledge. Even so, I cannot recommend this class highly enough. The only thing possibly better than this course might be its sequel!