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Crash, Panic, Run: Financial Crises in American History

Dr. Laura Phillips Sawyer
HONS 1990 Honors Colloquia Seminar
Wednesday, 1-2 pm, spring 2020
Hirsch Hall, Classroom D (Room 0254)

CRN 53988

This academic year, Professor Laura Phillips Sawyer will be visiting UGA from Harvard Business School. Sawyer will be teaching an Honors seminar (HONS 1990H) during spring 2020, entitled “Crash, Panic, Run: Financial Crises in American History.”

This one-credit seminar explores the many financial crashes, panics, and bank runs that have altered the course of American history. The readings will situate each financial panic in its historical context and the class discussions will examine the various causes and consequences of each bust. We will consider not only decision-making processes of elite financiers and public regulators, but also the reactions of average Americans whose financial fates were tied to the market. The class is organized chronologically, beginning in the revolutionary era, moving through the nineteenth century’s many banking panics, emphasizing the global scale of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and concluding with the 2008 financial crisis. Students will learn concepts in fiscal and monetary policy, and how to apply those concepts through historical analysis. Class discussions will engage students in debate, sharpening critical reading and thinking skills. Students are not expected to have a background in economics or finance; some grounding in American history is preferred but not required.

If you are interested in taking this course, please email Professor Sawyer ( by October 30 to apply. Please attach your resume and briefly state why you are interested in taking the course. The class will be capped at 20, and students will be notified by November 5 regarding the class roll.

At Harvard Business School, Professor Sawyer teaches Business, Government, and International Economy in the required curriculum. She has also taught US Business History in the HBS doctoral program. An historian by training, Sawyer received her PhD from the University of Virginia and subsequently held a post-doctoral fellowship at Brown University, where she taught in both the history and political science departments. Her book, American Fair Trade: Proprietary Capitalism, Corporatism, and the ‘New Competition,’ 1890-1940, examines the development of US antitrust law and economics from the passage of the first federal antitrust law through the New Deal period.



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