Prof. Matthias Kipping on revising MGMT 1030, History of Capitalism: Structures, Agents, Artefacts, into a new course that explores the origins and history of artifacts, the business behind them and how they have shaped the world. Role-playing and a mock trial bring fascinating and highly relevant stories to life and demonstrate why we must care about what has taken place over the course of history.
When I came it was a very academic course, you know, a thick book full of footnotes. And we gradually evolved it. So we introduced case studies. Now we’re just working with artifacts. So, we talk about credit cards, now bitcoin … we take these artifacts and explain where they come from, what’s the history behind it, and what’s the business behind it? How do businesses build up and how that has shaped the world.
The first lecture is we take some gasoline – I’m not even sure we’re allowed to do that for fire hazard purposes, so don’t put that in the – We say so where does this come from? Why are we a culture that’s so dependent on oil? Which is – we are an oil-based culture, and how does this happen? And you know, when you explain monopoly you explain the Middle East and all these things are connected.
I do a mock trial of somebody who committed financial fraud in the Great Depression and people forgotten about it, and you know because they always think only recent things matter, and so, you know, again, a fascinating story. It was an interesting character, and people play roles. I get people to actually play roles. They really enjoy it because it’s not dry it’s very attractive it’s about stories, it’s about people, it’s about how people interact, and so it works. The same for history, you say why should I care about what happened you know 200 years ago? Once you share your passion for that and with them, most of them buy into it.
I always say I’m really fortunate. I have an audience that actually needs this stuff that I’m teaching, and they need to know this. It helps them in their job once they buy into it, and I can tell you know, great stories, and so I’m a very lucky teacher. Imagine I had to write all these complicated equations on the board and instead I can talk about people and how they succeeded in their business 500 years ago. Yeah, and make that relevant for people today and they actually see the value and you know, it doesn’t go away. They remember those stories.