The Renaissance led to a flurry of new economic activity. Italy, because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean, became one of Europe’s financial hubs. Newfound wealth in places like Florence resulted in an explosion of patronage for the arts. Banking and economics played a critical roll in this revolution. Today’s complicated economic world of investment, trading and financialization, all the stocks, bonds, derivatives, credit default swaps, and mortgage-backed securities, much of this–whether good or bad–can be traced back to the explosion of finance that happened in the West during the Renaissance. Get a better grasp on history. Learn some economic history. Watch Niall Ferguson’s documentary “The Ascent of Money,” at least the first hour of it.
In his book, “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis“, renowned social thinker Jeremy Rifkin offers a radical new view of human nature. He looks at how empathy will determine our fate as a species.
Rifkin offers some innovative ideas to tackle our pressing world problems.
Watch the first video (at least) and complete a set of dialectical notes. Does Rifkin present a genuine solution for our world? Is there hope?
Some recent history for you. Meltdown is the story of the bankers who crashed the world, the leaders who struggled to save it and the ordinary families who got crushed.
Watch the 4-part documentary HERE.
For those of you in the class who are interested in further exploring these important concepts, watch the following interview with the creator of these terms, Joseph Nye.
“Emphasizing the differences between military, economic, and soft power, Nye distinguishes three chess boards or domains where the faces of power have a differential impact on behavior. Understanding this complexity makes for the possibility of smart power. Nye then discusses the rise and fall of great powers but emphasizes the importance of the diffusion of power especially apparent in the cyber domain in which the communications revolution has created new actors and new rules of the game. He then applies his concepts to recent international events including the revolution in Egypt; the Wiki leaks phenomena; and the humanitarian intervention in Libya. He concludes with a discussion of whether American institutions can adapt to the prerequisites of a smart strategy that comprehends the complexity of international life in the 21st century.”