Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
EC 285
Course Title:
Introduction to Political Economy
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Covers specific topics related to the United States economy from a systems/institutional perspective. Includes key institutions that make up the U.S. economy such as, corporations, government, the market system, labor unions, monetary and financial institutions, and others. Examines three problem areas: environmental degradation and resource depletion; social and political inequality; and economic instability. Introduces possible solutions based on institutional change and develops viable economic alternatives based on principles of environmental sustainability, equity and economic stability. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115, and MTH 20 or equivalent placement scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Credits from this course qualify for general education purposes at Portland Community College and may be applied toward satisfying Associates Degrees at Portland Community College.  Books and other materials are at the discretion of each course instructor.  Prices for texts and/or other materials may be found at the Portland Community College bookstore. 

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion, students should be able to:

  1. Think critically and formulate independent and well considered conclusions about the salient features of a capitalist economy.
  2. Effectively participate in the political process and the economy by utilizing an understanding of the historical evolution of economic systems, institutions and ideologies.
  3. Understand different paradigmatic perspectives regarding capitalism as an economic system.
  4. Evaluate current public policy options including, but not restricted to, laws pertaining to the minimum wage and living wage, carbon taxes, and economic stimulus programs intended to mitigate economic problems such as inequality, non?sustainability, resource depletion and instability.
  5. Make rational decisions based on rudimentary marginal analyses.
  6. Be prepared to further their studies in Economics courses.

Course Activities and Design

This course may include lecture and discussion formats utilizing faculty expertise, texts, supplementary reading materials, films, speakers, and other classroom aids at the discretion of the instructor.  Regular attendance and completion of assigned reading are essential to the successful completion of this course.  Instructors will teach in accordance with the goals and objectives listed in this Course Content Guide.  The Course Content Guides are developed by college-wide subject area faculty and are approved by management.  

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Traditional and nontraditional techniques will be used to assess student mastery of the content, competencies, and outcomes. These techniques can asses either products or processes:

          Products: multiple choice exams, essays, individual group projects, student demonstrations, research projects, other projects with specified rating criteria, and portfolios.

          Processes: interviews, documented observations, web searches, journals, student self-evaluations. 

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  1. Economic systems, institutions and their historical evolution.
  2. The market system as an institution.
  3. Traditional and nontraditional views of the role governments play in capitalist economies.
  4. The U.S. financial system: monetary institutions and Wall Street.
  5. The need for growth in a capitalist system and the limit to growth.
  6. The causes of economic instability and inequality
  7. Economic alternatives

Instructor's Qualifications:

A Masters degree in economics or a degree in a related discipline with at least 30 hours of graduate credits in economics.  A background of coursework in economic history and economic thought is preferred.