Vai al contenuto principale

Digital Economic History


Digital Economic History


Academic year 2022/2023

Course ID
Giandomenico Piluso (Lecturer)
Degree course
Language Technologies and Digital Humanities
1st year 2nd year
Teaching period
First semester
Related or integrative
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
SECS-P/12 - economic history
Formal authority
Type of examination
Written and oral (optional)




Sommario del corso


Course objectives

The objective of the class is to equip students attending the graduate course in Language Technologies and Digital Humanities with the fundamental tools of economics and history by emphasising complexity and dynamics within economic processes. The class aims at providing a sound comprehension of the complexity of economic changes on a global scale by offering at the same time the foundations of micro- and macro-economics. The course stresses the relevance of institutions, technology and policies as factors of long-term growth, measured by diverging/converging productivity and income per capita. In particular, it stresses the difference between the proximate causes of economic growth, such as technological innovation, and the ultimate causes of growth, namely institutions, explaining why some societies are more inclined to encourage innovation than other ones. By analysing the most important experiences of economic growth, according to the most recent research findings, the course focuses on the effects of development on demography, natural resources and inequality in different areas of the world. Moreover, it introduces to the growth theory by paying particular attention to the economic changes of the last two centuries (industrial revolutions and globalisations).

The aim of the course is to focus on the process of economic development since the first industrial revolution to the present. The course surveys the economic history of the World and its main purpose is to show how a long-run perspective may provide a better understanding of current economic issues. The approach merges up-to-date economic theory, particularly growth theory, with recent empirical research in long run trends of development.


Results of learning outcomes

The class aims at equipping students with knowledge of the complexity of evolutionary processes of economic systems in the long run, understanding the role of institutions, markets and technology as causes of productivity improvements. At the end of the course students should be familiar with key concepts of microeconomics and macroeconomics.

The class should complete the graduate course in Language Technologies and Digital Humanities by offering a robust understanding of economic processes and behaviour of economic actors. Students will be able to apply the related competencies in different professional and academic contexts.

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of the class students are expected to be familiar with:

  • the long term processes of economic growth, with a particular focus on Europe;
  • the factors of growth and development - institutions and technology - in regard to the great transformations experienced by areas and societies from the early sixteenth century to the present;
  • the relevant socio-economic variables which have been shaping the different trajectories of areas and societies from the first industrial revolution to the contemporary world, a world highly globalised and interconnected but also remarkably unequal.

Applying knowledge and understanding

The knowledge acquired should allow students to apply to a variety of professional and academic contexts the ability to understand the evolution processes of economic policies.

Making judgements

The class aims at making students familiar with the need for a critical assessment of evolutionary processes of economic systems, on a global scale, in respect to a variety of factors – economic, demographic and institutional ones - so as to encourage independent analysis and judgement when gathering relevant information and data on economic dynamics.

Communication skills

Students are expected to acquire and properly use methods, concepts and terminology of economics and history in a way that should allow them to effectively communicate information and ideas in professional and academic environments.

Learning skills

The class aims at favouring the acquisition of learning skills by allowing students to adapt their knowledge and competencies to a range of professional environments as well as to progress to further academic levels.


Course delivery



Learning assessment methods

Exams: assessments will be conducted through a 90-minute written examination consisting of two true or false questions, whose answer will be briefly explained and justified, and two open response questions.

The overall mark will be the sum of the relative scores received for the four questions (respectively, a maximum of 5 points each for the first couple of true or false questions and of 10 each for the open response questions).

The assessment will consider: i) the consistency of the answer with the question; ii) the degree of knowledge and understanding of topics dealt with; iii) the ability of analysis and argumentation; iv) absence or presence of conceptual errors; v) clarity and linguistic adequacy; vi) the use of specific and appropriate examples and cases.

In alternative, an oral examination could be considered.


Support activities

Teaching materials will be provided on the Moodle platform along with readings. Further support to students will be provided through a few online tutorials whose dates will be communicated in the notices.

I materiali didattici utilizzati saranno accessibili sulla piattaforma Moodle. Il docente prevede inoltre alcuni incontri online a supporto dello studio e della preparazione all'esame (le date saranno comunicate negli avvisi dell'insegnamento).



The class first provides a presentation and discussion of the main growth theory models by analysing empirical evidence drawn from recent research. The course examines, by topics, economic growth in the long run by considering the emergence of markets, scientific knowledge and technological innovations, the nature of the industrial revolutions, financial and monetary systems, international trade. Finally, the course deals with inequalities amongst geographical areas and social groups, ending with an analysis of the two globalisations.

The class outline:

  • the major growth theory models;
  • the main indicators of economic growth and development;
  • the long-term geo-economic continuity of Europe (gravity theory of trade);
  • the pre-industrial sources of productivity increases;
  • the interplay between population and scarce resources (Malthusian theory);
  • the Great Divergence between Europe and Asia from 1500 ca.;
  • the role of institutions in shaping modern economic growth;
  • the industrial revolutions, knowledge and technological innovation, convergence processes;
  • the emergence of money, credit and banking;
  • the international trade evolution and trade policies;
  • the international monetary systems in history;
  • the emergence of economic policies and the Welfare State;
  • the forms and measures of inequality amongst nations and within nations;
  • the two globalisations.

Suggested readings and bibliography

Global Economic History. A Very Short Introduction
Year of publication:  
Oxford University Press
Robert C. Allen
An Economic History of Europe. Knowledge, Institutions and Growth, 600 to the Present
Year of publication:  
Cambridge University Press
Karl Gunnar Persson and Paul Sharp

Robert C. Allen, Global Economic History. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2011 (chapters 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9).

Karl Gunnar Persson and Paul Sharp, An Economic History of Europe. Knowledge, Institutions and Growth, 600 to the Present, Cambridge, Cambridge University press, 2015 (second edition).

Robert C. Allen, Storia economica globale, Bologna, il Mulino, 2013 (capp. 1, 2, 3, 8 e 9).

Karl Gunnar Persson, Storia economica d'Europa. Conoscenza, istituzioni e crescita dal 600 d.C. a oggi, Rimini, Apogeo-Maggioli Editore, 2014 (si consiglia, se possibile, la lettura della seconda edizione in lingua inglese indicata nella sezione in lingua inglese della scheda).



Students unable to attend lectures in-person may have access to teaching materials on the Moodle platform along with readings. Further support to students will be provided through a few online tutorials whose dates will be communicated in the notices.

Last update: 15/09/2022 11:01
Non cliccare qui!