What is Political Economy?

What is the proper relationship between politics and economics?  Many have asked this question throughout the history of Western Civilization, and it forms the basis of a field of study known as political economy.

Unfortunately, for the past hundred years, the disciplines of politics and economics have become steadily more separate. One result of this separation is the tendency to lose sight of the important connections between forms of government and economic systems and the consequences that those connections have for the people that live in them.

Ashland University’s Department of History and Political Science has brought the field of study back to higher education with the introduction of the Political Economy major. Students in the program read and discuss the writings of some of the most thoughtful authors on the subject from Xenophon, to Adam Smith, to Karl Marx. They seek answers to questions like: What economic policy should leaders adopt? How do laws affect entrepreneurs trying to change the face of technology? Is economic growth opposed to morality? Why are some nations rich and others poor? What is the relationship between economics and a free society?

To address these questions and many more, they study primary texts in the history of politics and economics using the Socratic method. They read and discuss the actual words of the greatest thinkers on the subject rather than merely reading books about them. Through this course of study, our program aims to educate future leaders in the fields of economics, politics, and business who are equipped with knowledge of the relationship between politics and economics.

About the Ashbrook Academy in Political Economy

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The Ashbrook Academy in Political Economy is a summer program designed for rising high school juniors and seniors who share a deep interest in the relationship that exists between economics and good government.

We often discuss the Founding Fathers’ plan for government in America, but what plans did they make for America’s economic future? How were their economic plans related to the form of government they chose and vice versa? In this academy, we will explore these questions in light of two important works published in 1776: the Declaration of Independence and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

The Academy meets for five days (July 20-24, 2020) immersing participants in a study of the biggest economic challenges that faced our young Republic through a discussion-based curriculum based on a deep analysis of primary sources. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this summer’s academy will be conducted in an online format.