Curriculum and Programming

The curriculum for the Business and Economic History program at PLU is administered by the History department, and taught by the Benson Family Chair. Currently, the program consists of four courses taught on a rotating basis, providing students with an introduction to major themes in U.S. Business and Economic history, and providing greater depth in the fields of business ethics and the history of technology. At least two courses offered each year also support the Innovation Studies program.

PLU History majors and minors are encouraged to emphasize business and economic history in their History programs, and to structure significant research projects around these themes (for example, in History 301 or the capstone course). History majors are also encouraged to minor in Business, Innovation Studies, or Economics if the curriculum fits their career goals.

All History (Hist) courses satisfy the Social Sciences (SO) requirement within the PLU General Education Program.

Below is the current course list, a sample reading, and when the course is offered:

Hist 247: American Business and Economic History, 1877-present - SO

The Making of Black DetroitSurveys the history of American business and the economy from the rise of big business and labor unions after the American Civil War through the era of globalization. Topics include technological change, government regulation, business organization, economic thought, business ethics, the role of the entrepreneur, and the place of women and minorities in American business society. (4) [taught in Spring 2019 as FYEP 190]

HIST 248: Innovation, Ethics, and Society – SO

An interdisciplinary course on the history of innovation in the American economy, and the ethical considerations that arise as a result of new products and initiatives, disruptive technologies, globalization, and cultural change.

Satisfies a foundation requirement in the new Innovation Studies minor; also a History elective. (4) [Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021]

HIST 346: History of Innovation and Technology - SO

Leonardo to the InternetSurveys the role of innovation and technology in Western societies from the industrial revolution to the computer age. Examines the way that technology has developed over time, and how those changes have affected business and the economies of Europe and the United States.

Major themes include the development of forms of transportation, communication, industrial production, power systems, and computer technologies. (4) [J-term 2019, Spring 2021]

Inov 350: Innovation Seminar

A hands-on seminar for Innovation Studies minors designed to expose students to the conceptual, ethical, and logistic issues involved in developing an innovative idea, process, product, or campaign.

Students will form teams; analyze artistic, technological, and entrepreneurial factors; consider issues such as feasibility and market timing; and then develop and present an “idea proposal” during the semester that will have written and visual components. A final presentation is required.

Receives INOV credits (4), which satisfy upper division requirement and completes the Innovation Studies minor. (Not a HIST class.) [Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021]

HIST 499: Travel, Technology, and Business

Travel is an ever-present characteristic of the human experience. From ancient times to the present, business people, merchants, missionaries, diplomats, pilgrims, and others have wandered the world seeking new experiences and opportunities; sometimes broadening human understanding and connecting disparate groups, and other times engaging in violence, theft, or subjugation. At the root of it all, however, is innovation and travel—deliberate human movement on foot, horseback, or ship; by car, train, or airplane—even rockets into space and virtual travel via the Internet.

This history capstone asks students to consider the fruitful intersections among travel, technology, and business in global history, in order to understand and comment on the powerful contending forces in our world and to relate them to individual experience. The seminar especially welcomes students interested in business history, technology, and innovation. Click here for a list of student research topics in the course. (4) [Last taught Fall 2017]

Innovation Studies at PLU

PLU is excited to announce the creation of a new 20-credit minor in Innovation Studies, approved by the Faculty and Board of Regents in April and May 2017.

Innovation Studies (INOV) is an interdisciplinary program featuring coursework in History, Economics, Business, and Art & Design, as well as potential electives from ten academic units, including Computer Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Communication and Theater, English, Politics & Government, History, Economics, Art & Design, and Business. The Benson program in Business and Economic History has sponsored the planning process, and a faculty work group met during 2016-2017 to develop the plans and create the new curriculum.

For more information, visit Innovation Studies.