Randall Germain has supervised a multitude of master’s theses and research essays for students enrolled in the Institute of Political Economy. Topics have included the roles of small and medium sized enterprises in the EU; responsibilities of credit agencies; the struggle of unions versus multi-million dollar corporate agencies; and the impact of participatory budgeting policies in Brazil, California, and Ontario.
According to Professor Germain, there is a bit of everything to be found at the Institute. And they’re coming from a group of students as clever as they are close. “There’s a real sense of identity,” Germain says. They’ve got this Esprit de Corps, as he puts it, a tight-knit herd. The cohort is best described as committed and involved in a wide variety of important subjects. One may be interested in the economy of agriculture, colonialism in the Philippines, the political economy of mental health, or the U.S. dollar. Many of the students go on to do a Ph.D., and if they don’t, they get a good job. While guiding them along the way, Germain has learned a lot too. “As professors and teachers, it’s just really invigorating,” he says.
His own expertise, divided into two main categories, fits quite nicely within the scope of the institute. The first is practical, theoretical, and all about money: the organization of the global monetary system. It’s a look at regulation, how it’s implemented and why it’s stable or in crisis. Right now, Germain is focused on whether the American dollar will remain the international currency.
His second area of mastery can’t be explained so simply. Currently, his major research project delves into how history influenced International Political Economy, how scholars who have used or misused the idea of history shaped the theoretical study of the discipline. His expertise on the global monetary system is quite practical, but the other is abstract. “And I teach courses that same way,” he says.
Germain heads a class on global finance, and another on International Political Economy. He also teaches the mandatory course on the traditions of political economy. Students get to delve into classics, like Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, or Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. For the curious and globally-minded, the Institute of Political Economy offers its students an opportunity to choose their research path from a wide area of interests.