Upcoming Courses

Interdisciplinary courses are being developed specifically for the business curriculum. Topics include an exploration of the culture and narratives of industrialism, an evaluation of the impact of modernization, and applying the ideas from The Art of War to today’s corporations.

The Art of Warning

with Rob LaFleur

This course will introduce Sima Guang’s Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Ruling, arguably the most important management textbook in history. It takes the lessons of Sunzi’s Art of War and takes them to a new level, one that would teach readers to run the most complex enterprise in the premodern world, the Chinese empire.

The Art of War, though, deals with a small world of contending kingdoms. What we will call The Art of Warning integrates those lessons and extends them to the complexity of a multi-faceted bureaucracy and enormous expenditures that parallel the challenges of today’s corporations.

Everyone in China knows this book; almost no one in the West does. This course will introduce it, along with lessons that will give you advantages in the global marketplace that almost none of your peers can match.

Steam Speed and Modernity

with Tamara Ketabgian

This course explores nineteenth-century English literature and the culture of industrialism, with a focus on the rise of global capital, changing forms of work, and the growth of consumerism, class conflict, and technological innovation.

Using approaches from both business and the humanities, we read industrial fiction and first-person accounts to gain a broader grasp of the history of labor and management and the lived experience of working people during social upheaval. Throughout the term, class members work together to explore the meaning of past industrial narratives and art forms for our lives in post-industrial Beloit today.

The course culminates in entrepreneurial public humanities projects—such as podcasts, digital storytelling, and exhibits—drawing from the College Archives, the Wright Museum of Art, and the Powerhouse (Beloit’s student center, which was formerly a hydroelectric plant).

Evaluating Modernization

with Daniel Bruckenhaus

This class focuses on the question of whether economic and technological modernization from the mid-eighteenth century to the present has made the world a better or worse place overall.

After defining our criteria for answering this question, we will ask how, at various points in time, different groups across the world were impacted positively or negatively by industrialization and technological change. Themes to be addressed will include changes in people’s food supply, their health care and life expectancy, how urbanization, European imperialist expansion and slavery influenced people’s lives, the environmental impact of modern technology, and the psychological effects of living in a society transformed by rapid technological change.

As part of this class, we will take into account a broad range of sources, including statistical data, scholarly writings and visual and literary art, and we will explore how pro- and anti-modernity standpoints intersected in complex ways with various ideologies across the political spectrum.

Economies of Words

with Daniel Youd

This course’s focus will be on the global history of trade from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Through readings of landmark works of fiction–e.g. The Plum in the Golden Vase and Lost Illusions–we will explore how the growth of a money economy instigated new ways of producing and consuming objects, signifying meaning and value, and representing the self.  

In the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote that “trade and language are two aspects of the same process; humans trade because we have language, nonhumans do not trade because they do not.” Taking inspiration from Smith, the course will explore the hypothesis that language–as an essential tool for the expression of preferences and desires–is a sine qua non of economic activity. We will also discover that economic activity is not merely the topic of practical language but also an abiding theme of literary creation. We will look closely at the similarities between money and language as symbolic systems of exchange. 

Business Ethics

with Phil Shields

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