Throughout my undergraduate career I tailored an academic plan that combined my interests in international economics with global politics. The courses I pursued have been interdisciplinary in nature, and they have added depth and complexity to the way that I understand global studies and international affairs. The prevailing themes that link many of my courses include: international economic flows, the role of powerful and elite actors in government and economics, the winners and losers of particular political and economic arrangements, and the manifestation of these global economic processes in localized contexts. I incorporated my regional interests in East Asia on occasion, but my interests are more broadly concerned with how these processes are exercised throughout the world.

Global Studies Coursework

My first introduction to what global studies really means came through this course during my freshman year. It helped me to see the complexities of the translation processes that shape global affairs and to think about it in an academic way. It also gave me a framework to think about how the news I was reading every day fit into these transnational processes.

This course gave me a fundamental understanding of the basic principles that govern international economic flows. Beginning with basic ideas of comparative advantage, we built up models of international trade. We looked at the benefits and motivations of trade, but also the specific groups that benefit from various trade patterns. We also discussed barriers to trade, how these interfere with trade flows, and why specific actors might advocate for increased protection. International finance was also introduced in this course. We discussed exchange rates and the factors that influence exchange rate regimes, as well as the factors that determine international capital flows.

I learned more advanced theories of macroeconomics in this intermediate-level class. We began by covering the development of modern macroeconomic models through the Classical, Keynesian, Austrian, New Classical, and New Keynesian views. We emphasized a detailed comparative analysis of these views and their corresponding models and policy implications. Some of the thematic issues that we discussed through these models were business cycles, money and prices, unemployment, and financial and monetary issues. This material gave me a foundation in understanding how economic and political actors make decisions and policies regarding the macroeconomy. We expanded our analysis to open economies, adding an international element to our analysis of monetary and exchange rate regimes. I focused on this topic to analyze the theory justifying the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and the factors that contributed to its weaknesses and failure in my final paper.

This course presented a geographical and historical comparative analysis of major foreign policy developments and the decision-making processes that motivated them. We analyzed a diverse range of nations like Russia, China, Germany, and Japan as well as terrorist organizations to inform a broad model of foreign policy in the contemporary paradigm. We also gave attention to the unique internal processes that are manifested in each national context. Our analysis extended to include individuals at the center of foreign policy establishments and how their interests shaped their decision-making. We were also encouraged to reflect on the current international structure and environment and how this shapes the interactions that take place within it. The course culminated in a final paper which I used to analyze the foreign policy options in the South China Sea dispute.

This political economy course approached the subject matter from an historical and comparative perspective. We traced the evolution of political economy since the period of Pax Britannica defined by the hegemony of Great Britain through the current era of globalization and decreasing hegemony of the United States. We also studied the intervening interwar period, Bretton Woods period, and the Cold War period to characterize the key features of the global economic system and the political regimes that created. This course is relevant to my interest in studying how politics interact with international economics and gave me a framework to think through how the current regime is set up and functions. I also learned to create data visualizations with R, and the course culminated in a project to create four data visualizations to reflect the different periods we studied in class.

Cities have become an increasingly interesting topic for me throughout my academic career. Current forces of globalization encourage urbanization and migration into cities. They have become the setting of numerous struggles over the conditions of a globalized world including housing education, wealth disparity, inequality, and health, among others. This course offered a historical perspective on cities as the setting of these struggles. The time period covered spanned from the ancient cities of Rome to the modern merchant cities of Europe, but it also featured cities in Asia and Africa throughout this period. Despite the temporal and geographic differences, several themes emerged throughout the history of cities. One of these themes that developed was the networks the connected global cities to each other throughout every time period. Whether defined by economic, military, political, or cultural factors, these interconnected networks of cities help me to understand the contemporary development of cities in a global context.

This course covered the phenomenon known as the “Asian Miracle” where a number of East Asian economies experienced rapid economic growth and economic integration into the global economic system. Although we covered Japan, South Korea, and China in depth, we also examined many countries in Southeast Asia. We explored the factors unique to each national context that contributed to the growth of these economies. However, we also discussed the consequences of this growth and the current challenges that these economies face domestically and in the international system. This class was particularly interesting for my studies because it combined my interests in history, economics, political science, and East Asia, and it addressed the broader thematic narrative of economic growth in emerging markets that interests me. I was able to apply many of the skills and concepts I acquired through previous coursework to more thoroughly understand the topics we were covering.

In this political philosophy course we were concerned with questions regarding justice and the legitimacy of a state. We approached these questions from an historical approach choosing three distinct revolutionary moments in history the guide our discussion. We discussed how political philosophers gave voice to concerns and ideas arising out of their historical times and places, and how their ideas, in the hands of political actors, shaped the world. We began with the American revolution and discussed the origins of the liberal contractarian justification of the state. We then moved on to the French revolution, which motivated the emergence of liberal republicanism. We then discussed the emergence of political realism within the context of the Haitian revolution. We concluded with topics relevant to debates within current affairs such as contemporary anarchist thought and social justice, as well as libertarian justifications for open borders. These discussions often brought to light the struggle between power and the oppressed, which is critical discussion to reassess in current political affairs.

Major Courses and Other Relevant Courses

This course introduced me to the quantitative methods used by economists to construct econometric models for data analysis. We began by extensively covering regression analysis. We then covered alternative techniques like IV regression, difference in difference, and regression discontinuity. Using case studies with real world data, we utilized STATA for in-class and take-home assignments.

This course covered the historical development of monetary theory as well as the role of central banks and the conduct of monetary policy. We began by covering the origins and role of money, theories regarding the supply of and demand for money, and the role of money in determining aggregate demand, output, prices and other key macroeconomic variables. We then analyzed the evolving role of central banking and views regarding the role and conduct of monetary policy, including recent and historical international policy actions. We were assessed by our ability to comprehend academic publications on monetary theory and policy, and to synthesize the information to present coherent responses.

This course presented a history of China beginning with the Opium Wars and Western intervention of the Late Imperial Qing Dynasty. We then covered responses to Western intervention like the Taiping Rebellion before continuing to the period of Japanese invasion and internal conflict. We concluded by extensively covering the political rise and dominance of Mao Zedong and the subsequent consequences for China’s development before finishing with the Opening and Reform era of the 1970s. This course gave me a firm background in understanding the context of China’s recent rise. I developed a research paper in this class on the relations between China and Germany in the 1930s and how this relationship displayed China’s exercise of its sovereign authority in foreign policy.

I took this course while studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. We studied the history of the political relations between the United States government and the governments of African nations throughout the 20th century. The unfortunate reality is that through much of this period the United States lacked a coherent foreign policy strategy towards African since it was perennially ranked low on the list of foreign policy priorities. I took the opportunity in this class to analyze the contemporary relations between China and Africa, particularly in reference to foreign aid, in comparison to the historic foreign aid regime practiced by the United States government.

In this course we examined the development of the Chinese economy since the Opening and Reform era. We looked at individual sectors and industries like the financial sector, fiscal policy, trade liberalization, rural and urban disparities, education, inequality, and demographics. We analyzed the historical performances and contemporary challenges and instabilities that remain in the economic system. I focused on the challenges facing the coal production and consumption in China’s energy sector. In summary, there are several structural inefficiencies that threaten the sustainability of the coal industry.