Annual EBHS Conference, 39th Annual Economic and Business History Society Conference

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Giving ‘em the Business: the Intersection of Economics and the Humanities
Erik Benson, Ranjit Dighe, Jan Kunnas

Last modified: 2014-05-14


This roundtable will examine the scholarly intersection of economics and the humanities. It will include presentations from three scholars who study and teach in these fields, and will address developments in content research and pedagogical application. It will include commentary on these presentations, and a time for audience interaction. Ultimately, those who attend will be offered valuable insight into the possibilities this intersection of interests presents.This proposal stems from a recent article published in the Stanford Report in February 2014 entitled “Stanford Humanities Put the Human Back in Economics.” The article explained how various scholars had created a workshop using insights from such fields as history to better understand current economic developments. This attracted the attention of a number of members of the Economicand Business History Society. The society has long encouraged such cross-disciplinary study, and the suggestion that this might be experiencing a revival led to discussion about the implications of this for scholarship and teaching. With this in mind, this roundtable will examine the intersection of the humanities and economics from a number of angles.The first presenter will be Dr. Ranjit Dighe of the State University ofNew York-Oswego. He has long studied the historical portrayal of economics in literature, having published on the economic allegory found in The Wizard of Oz. He will address the intersection between economics, history, and literature.The second presenter will be Dr. Jan Kunnas of the University of Turku. He has focused his research on economics and environmental studies. He will address how this intersection between history and economics is a “two-way street,” with historical methods being used to test economic theories, and economic methods being applied to historical questions. He will also emphasize that the lesson from economics, and especially from economic history, for thefield of history in general is not to fear numbers. In this, he will take examples from his own research that can be labelled under environmental history as well as economic history.The third presenter will be Dr. Erik Benson of Cornerstone University. His research and scholarly publication has focused on historical examples of business entrepreneurship. In recent years, his research interests have come to include a pedagogical element. He will address the pedagogical possibilities which the intersection of economics and humanities offers. Drawing from the keynote address at the 2013 EBHS conference, he will consider how historians and economists can create courses with cross-disciplinary appeal, and the benefits this promises. Audience questions and comments will follow.