Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Climate Solutions Lab

From Growth to the Green Transition IAPA 1801k

Brown University

Political Science


Mark Blyth

Undergraduate seminar

This seminar explores the idea of growth and how it came to be seen as a policy imperative. That is, something that governments ‘must’ provide for reasons of performance and legitimacy. Growth as an idea has a peculiar intellectual history that arose in the 18th century, peaked in the 20th century, and has now come under stress in the 21st century. Today, the very idea of growth has become essentially contested with ideas of ‘green growth,’ ‘de-growth’ and zero growth’ gaining ground in an era of heightened inequality and climate crisis. This seminar seeks to uncover the history of growth as process of wealth accumulation, as a means of political legitimation, and as, as some argue, a dangerous distraction.