History of Economic Thought

10 weeks, starting 16th Dec
Thurs (7 PM - 8:30 PM) | PKR 4,000

What you'll learn

  • Understand how economic thought has evolved over time
  • Describe the main schools of economic thought
  • Identify the most influential ideas in economic thought and the people who developed them

About this Course

Course Overview

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.
– J. M. KEYNES, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

The course introduces the history of economic thought with the purpose of presenting the most influential ideas and the people behind these ideas. The course will put the development of these ideas into their historical context. We will discuss the implications of these ideas in the current political discourse and policymaking. The course will take students on a journey of how the economic theory was formulated and shaped, and how economic concepts have evolved over time. 

Ideas have a longer life than their originator. They evolve and interact with other ideas and take new shapes. They are also influenced by the socio-economic background in which they are developed. Economic ideas are the same way. Thus, we need to understand them in their context. These ideas are highly consequential and shape our lives, sometimes in unintended ways.


The sessions will be moderated by Mr. Waqas Ahmad, a financial economist who teaches at the International Islamic University Islamabad, and Dr Naveed Iftikhar, urban economist, and Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences. Guest speakers will be invited in almost all sessions who will lead the discussion.

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Course Outline

Week 1
Session 1: Why study the intellectual history of economic ideas?
This introductory session will look at the rationale of the history of economic thought. Why do we need to study the past for a better understanding of the present?
Week 1
Weeks 2
Session 2: Adam Smith and the birth of Economics
Adam Smith and his main ideas on division of labor, power of market mechanism, and free trade.
Weeks 2
Weeks 3
Session 3: Karl Marx
The counter-narrative of Marxisit ideas on labour exploitation, alienation, and socialist utopia.
Weeks 3
Week 4
Session 4: John Maynard Keynes
The role of price rigidities, aggregate demand, and fiscal stimulus in economic policymaking.
Week 4
Week 5
Session 5: Development Economics
The broader definition of development as inspired by the work of Amartya Sen.
Week 5
Week 6
Session 6: Milton Friedman, Schumpeter, and Hayek on Free market economy
How markets are best in allocating resources and any central planning is doomed to fail the required results.
Week 6
Week 7
Session 7: Finance and the real economy
Asymmetric information, efficient market, deregulation, and financial crises.
Week 7
Week 8
Session 8: New Growth theory
Knowledge and the wealth of the nation. Charter cities and economic transformation.
Week 8
Week 9
Session 9: Institutional Economics
The man-made arrangements that constrain human interactions. Colonial origin of development
Week 9
Week 10
Session 10: Behavioral Economics
Kahneman and Thaler on the intersection of psychology and economics. Nudging for a better world
Week 10