Economic and social history has a long tradition at WU: The first courses in history were taught in the academic year 1922-23, at a time when the university had just changed its name from Imperial and Royal Academy for Exportation to Hochschule für Welthandel, i.e. Specialized University for World Trade. Since 1928-29, economic and social history has been an important ‘context area of study‘, that is, a key subject to provide students of economics and business with the necessary horizon for their future development. Back then, as today, Austria was highly dependent on its foreign trade, and in the interwar period the basic toolkit of successful merchants included knowledge of foreign markets and their political, social and economic circumstances and traditions. This persists until the present day in that a broad intellectual horizon and the ability to distinguish short-run fashions from long-run trends are key characteristics of successful economists, in business and in academia.
Rooted in this tradition our teaching continues to cover the key questions of economic and social history, while keeping abreast of advancing knowledge and emerging scientific debates: Why are some countries rich and others poor? What are the driving forces behind the development of the world economy and international trade, and what is their impact on individual economies? What moves the business cycle and causes booms and busts, and how can we cope with the latter? How have the explanations provided by economics for these phenomena evolved over time? And, from a business history perspective, what are the conditions and scope of action for individual entrepreneurship in this context, and what has determined the success and failure of companies in different historical settings?
In practice, the institute’s staff is involved in the bachelor programs in Economic and Social Sciences (Bawiso) and Business and Economics (BBE). In Bawiso, we especially teach in the study branches of Economics & Socioeconomics (especially in the Socioeconomics focus area) and offer elective subjects in economic and social history and philosophy in the business studies branch, as well as contributions to ‘Sustainable Economics and Business II’. In the BBE, we are coordinate the core courses in History of Economics and the Economy and Methodology of Social Science, and also collaborate in the specializations Interactions of Economy & Society, Philosophy: Logic and Ethics und Topics in Economic and Social History.
We are also responsible for the specialization in ‘Historical foundations and processes’ in the Master in Socioeconomics (taught principally in German) and for an economic and social history course in the Management master (taught in English). The doctoral/PhD courses in economic and social history are intended to train PhD candidates in the programs for Economic and Social Sciences with an international orientation and to advancing the state of research in the field.
More detailed information on courses currently taught at the bachelor (including bachelor theses), master and doctoral/PhD level can be found on the page links on the right side of the screen.