CCHU9069 Arts and Humanities
Humans have become increasingly more civilized and violence has declined substantially in the last two millennia. Are we, though, really better species than before, or something else has happened? How have human societies innovated and developed increasingly better ways to deal with the challenges of risk events such as natural disasters, climate shocks, epidemic viruses, and wars? And how can financial knowledge help us understand the relationship between socio-economic history and the history of civilizations?
This course addresses these global questions with an interdisciplinary historical approach, developing a risk-mitigation perspective on the evolution of human civilizations so that we can better understand how civilizations have evolved and how we can better foresee future growth areas in frontier, emerging, and developed markets. The course explores a number of human innovations, including mythology, magic, supernatural beliefs, technologies, social structures, cultural norms, religions, financial markets, and the welfare state. This broad scope of knowledge on the historical evolution of risk-sharing arrangements allows us to appreciate that cultures and institutions have each evolved historically as a way to maximize the probability of human survival, which in turn allows us to see where they will go as better risk-mitigating tools become available due to technological and financial progress.
Course Learning Outcomes
On completing the course, students will be able to:
- Explain the relationship between social/economic innovations and the history of civilizations.
- Apply financial/economic analytical frameworks to understand history, business, culture and society.
- Develop leadership skills for business and society.
- Develop global outlook and analytical thinking.
- Demonstrate research and presentation skills.
Offer Semester and Day of Teaching
Second semester (Wed)
|Activities||Number of hours|
|Reading / Self-study / Homework||56|
|Assessment: Essay / Report writing||30|
|Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation)||7|
Assessment: 100% coursework
|In-class participation and discussions||20|
Topic 1: Risk, violence, and early innovations in technology
- Bai, Y., & Kung, J. (2011). Climate shocks and Sino-nomadic conflict. Review of Economics and Statistics, 93(3), 970-81.
- Diamond, J. (May 1, 1999). The worst mistake in the history of the human race. Discover Magazine. From https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/the-worst-mistake-in-the-history-of-the-human-race
- Jia, R. (2014). Weather shocks, sweet potatoes and peasant revolts in historical China. Economic Journal, 124(575), 92-118.
- Matranga, A. (2014). Climate-driven technical change: Seasonality and the innovation of agriculture. Job Market Paper.
- Pinker, S. (2012). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. New York: Penguin Books. [Chaps. 1, 2 and 3]
Topic 2: Risk and supernatural beliefs: do they work as a response to risk and uncertainty?
- Miguel, E. (2005). Poverty and witch killing. Review of Economic Studies, 72(4), 1153-1172.
- Oster, E. (2004). Witchcraft, weather and economic growth in Renaissance Europe. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(1), 215-228.
- Torgler, B. (2007). Determinants of superstition. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 36, 713-733.
- Tsang, E. (2004). Toward a scientific inquiry into superstitious business decision-making. Organization Studies, 25(6), 923-946.
Topic 3: Marriage, family and social structure/cultural norms: do they work as a response to risk and uncertainty?
- Alesina, A., & Giuliano, P. (2010). The power of the family. Journal of Economic Growth, 15, 93-125.
- Chen, Z., He, S., Lin, Z., & Peng, K. (2014). Women as insurance assets: A study of bride-price in 18th and 19th century China. Yale University Working Paper.
- Cheung, S. N. S. (1972). The enforcement of property rights in children, and the marriage contract. The Economic Journal, 82(326), 641-657.
- Kung, J., & Ma, C. (2014). Can cultural norms reduce conflicts? Confucianism and peasant rebellions in Qing China. Journal of Development Economics, 111(C), 132-149.
- Low, B. (1990). Marriage system and pathogen stress in human societies. American Zoological Review, 30, 325-339.
- Rosenzweig, M. R., & Stark, O. (1989). Consumption smoothing, migration, and marriage: Evidence from rural India. Journal of Political Economy, 97(4), 905-926.
Topic 4: Financial markets, religion, and the welfare state: do they supplement, or compete with, each other as responses to risk and uncertainty?
- Chen, D. (2010). Club goods and group identity: Evidence from Islamic resurgence during the Indonesian financial crisis. Journal of Political Economy, 118(2), 300-354.
- Dehejia, R., Deleire, T., & Luttmer, E. (2007). Insuring consumption and happiness through religious organizations. Journal of Public Economics, 91(1-2), 259-279.
- Morse, A. (2011). Payday lenders: Heroes or villains? Journal of Financial Economics, 102(1), 28-44.
- Scheve, K., & Stasavage, D. (2006). Religion and preferences for social insurance. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 1(3), 255-286.
- Scheve, K., & Stasavage, D. (2006). The political economy of religion and social insurance in the United States, 1910–1939. Studies in American Political Development, 20(Fall 2006), 132-159.
Topic 5: Finance as risk tools for national survival and the rise of the fiscal state: historical lessons for national financial strategies
- Chen, Z. (2013). Financial Strategies for Nation Building. In J. Fan & R. Morck (Eds.), Capitalizing China (pp. 313-36). Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
- Mcdonald, J. (2006). A free nation deep in debt: The financial roots of democracy. Princeton University Press. [Chaps. 1, 3 & 8]
- Shiue, C. H. (2004). Local granaries and central government disaster relief: Moral hazard and intergovernmental finance in eighteenth and nineteenth-century China. The Journal of Economic History, 64(1), 100-124.
Quantitative History Webinar Series (convened by Professor Zhiwu Chen and Dr. Chicheng Ma of HKU Business School) offers useful resources on the latest research related to the history of human societies for students interested in pursuing more advanced studies in the field. More details are available on the Series website at https://www.asiaglobalinstitute.hku.hk/event-category/agifbe_hku-quantitative-history-webinar-series.