Seminar in International Trade (Econ 312)
Professor Katherine Schmeiser
In 2013, world trade in goods (exports + imports) was 37 times larger than it was in 1948. Countries, both developed and developing rely on trade to promote country growth, investment, health, education, and technology transfers. Many people even argue that increased trade is better than foreign aid:
``We would like the world trading system to be able to help us stand on our own feet so that aid is unnecessary. Trade is more important to us than aid, and that's all we're asking for. We do not want to be dependent on aid for ever. It just can't happen." —SAM MPASU MP, from the movie "Black Gold"
While most economists would argue that free trade benefits all, the road to free trade is often marked by political agenda, power inequalities, and human rights struggles. In this course, we ask many questions usually without satisfying answers. We seek to understand the role of world organizations in global governance in their existing frameworks and to think through our ideals. We learn tools to analyze many situations in any country and pathways to follow in students' future work to alleviate global poverty through trade.
While content varies by semester, in this course you will likely be exposed to multiple theories on topics such as:
- How does trade liberalization affect women's participation in the labor force and the gender wage gap?
- In what ways can rules on intellectual property, mandated by trade agreements, help (through technology transfers) or hurt (through decreased access to essential medicines) developing countries?
- How can internal and external conflict affect trade, and how can trade affect regional stability?
- Are productivity gains observed through foreign direct investment and presence of multinational firms?
- What impact does globalization actually have on the environment?
- Is fair trade fair? Do international pressures actually help to relieve child labor problems?
This is a writing intensive course. Each week you will participate in in-class workshopping sessions with your peers or we will discuss research methods and writing processes. Through process writing and presentations, your semester will culminate in a research paper.