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First Course Peace Economics

A CPA friend of mine, Gene Emge, had found a way to teach Beyond War as a course at the local University of Oregon.  Their Innovative Education Department allowed off campus people to teach a Pass/Fail only class if a professor approves the course.  So I went to the Economics Department Chair and asked about teaching this as an economics course, and he said “that’s politics, ask Political Science.”  So I went to the Political Science Department head and he said “that’s economics.”  So I went to Sociology and a friend of mine from peace demonstrations, Bob O’Brien, was the Chair.  He said “that’s great, we have three professors in political economy, talk to them and get one of them to approve the course and we’ll do it. And by the way we agree that military spending hurts the economy.”  So I had taken a Causes of War course from David Milton, who had received his Ph.D. from Berkeley, and he liked my creative argument on the final exam for a fourth cause (man, the state, and system of states were the three in the textbook) of economics, so approval went smoothly.

On class registration day of Spring Term 1987 I passed out hundreds of flyers and eleven students took the two credit course Peace Economics listed in Sociology.  Three of the eleven were from Arab Oil States majoring in economics, and one of them went on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin.  The Arabs all loved the course and had a glow in their eyes whenever I ran into them on campus.  Another student was taking a course with Robert Heilbroner’s book of The Great Economic Thinkers, mainly of the nineteenth century.  My student said that I should be in that book.  This also happened in a hallway, not in class.  I received above department averages for course evaluations.

My second class was approved by Val Burris who received his Ph.D. from Princeton because David Milton went on sabbatical.  I had taken a Power Structure class from Val and chose the Secretaries of Defense and State to analyze for the term paper.  They all came from Harvard and Defense was almost always the dove and State the hawk in internal deliberations.  Unfortunately, several things happened in the Fall 1987 three credit course time period.  Well it’s who you know, not what you know that counts, so with Bob O’Brien on sabbatical I got a letter from someone I’d never met telling me that I “could not tell people I was teaching at the University of Oregon.”  I thought that was ridiculous.  Sociology could insist I list the Department of Innovative Instruction as my Department, but I certainly wasn’t teaching at LaneCommunity College.  Was this retaliation because I did not acknowledge a football player who enrolled but never showed up for class, so I did nothing, no grade, no adverse disposition, I just ignored the item, for that absent student?  Who knows.  When I finished that second class I transferred to political friend Carl Hosticka’s Department of Public Policy and Management for the third class, Fall 1989, now open to graduate students and for three credits.

After that, I gave up.  A dozen students at a time would not change the world, so instead I took an offer from Peter Bergel to write a monthly column on Peace Economics for the Oregon PeaceWorker, circulation 10,000.  All the Democratic Congresspeople from Oregon knew about my column.  That began in November 1989 and lasted until April 1997.  I completed and published about 60 columns all in all.  Many of those columns are in my 1999 100 page book Real Economics, a companion for the website launched in 1999.  Time demands forced me to drop the column to begin twenty-five 25 minute long tapes for my second course, with a new heavy environmental component on cycle theory, called Weather, Wealth, and Wars.  This was offered through University of the Air, Radio for Peace International, a shortwave radio station broadcasting to the world from Costa Rica.  The first airing was April to June 1997, the second January to March 1998.  About 100 students took that course over the years until RFPI closed in 2004, with countless other listeners, so I was finally reaching the world with my unique empirical findings and message.  Transcripts of that course form the backbone of my latest book manuscript I am currently working with.

Here is the modern syllabus for the class now called Empire and Climate Economics:

Brief daily class content descriptions are included in this syllabus.

Dr. Peace, Dr. Bob Reuschlein  608-230-6640


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