Dowd History of Capitalism Program

Dowd Program in the History of Capitalism

The program, generously funded by grants from the Dowd Foundation, offers UNC Charlotte students the opportunity to study the origins, long-run development, and recent history of capitalism.  With the help of this program, which started in 2015, the department encourages history students to combine quantitative and qualitative analysis of past developments, in a wide-ranging consideration of economic, business, and labor histories.  The program aims at preparing history and majors and minors to do important work in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The current director of the program is Professor Mark R. Wilson.  Contact him at

COURSES:  As of Spring 2019, the Dowd program has already supported the development of ten new history and liberal studies (LBST) courses.  Some of these courses have offered general introductions to the history of capitalism around the world, and in the USA.  Others have focused on more specific subjects, including consumption and capitalism in Europe; the US food industry; African-American entrepreneurs; and the transition from communism to capitalism in Eastern Europe.

VISITING SPEAKERS:  Students in these courses (along with the broader UNC Charlotte community) have had the special opportunity to learn from a large number of Dowd-supported visiting speakers.  These have included some academics, as well as a variety of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists. 

Past visiting speakers from the business world have included Hugh McColl, former chairman and CEO of Bank of America; Marlene and Glen Jones, of Main Street Management Group, LLC; Blake Barnes, founder and owner of the Common Market stores in Charlotte; Jean-Louis Vanderstraeten, former executive director of the French-American Chamber of Commerce; and Chris and Tara Goulet, of Birdsong Brewing Co., in Charlotte.

In conjunction with his courses on the history of the food industry, Dr. Benny Andres has arranged for a series of visiting speakers from labor and trade associations.  These speakers have included Baldemar Velasquez, president and founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee; and Colin Woodall, senior vice president for governmental affairs, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Among the Dowd-sponsored speakers from the academic world have been Dr. Juliet E.K. Walker, professor of history and founding director of the Center of Black Business, History, Entrepreneurship, Technology at the University of Texas, Austin; Dr. Sven Beckert, professor of history and founder of the Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard University; Dr. Seymour Drescher, distinguished university professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, professor of history at West Virginia University; Dr. Elaine Weiner, associate professor of sociology, McGill University; Dr. Justene Hill Edwards, assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia; Dr. Marcy Norton, associate professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania; and Dr. Alex Cummings, associate professor in the history department at Georgia State University.

UNDERGRADUATE PAPER PRIZE: The Dowd program currently supports the award of a $250 prize, for best undergraduate paper by a history major, submitted during the calendar year, on a subject related to the history of capitalism.  The first award, for a paper completed in 2017, went to Spencer Rubin, for the paper, "The Wind Beneath Our Wings: The Role of The Military in the Development of the Commercial Aircraft Industry, 1919-1929.” The winner for the competition considering papers submitted in 2018 was Jansen Cole, for a paper entitled "New Changes for North Carolina Migrant Workers: A History of H2A Workers and the Importance of the Mt. Olive Pickle Company Boycott.”

SUMMER RESEARCH GRANTS:  Since 2017, the Dowd program has awarded several summer research grants, to BA history majors and MA history students, to support research projects on subjects related to the history of capitalism.  This program encourages students to connect past and present, by engaging with community partners and current events.  Past BA-level participants in the summer grants program have included Dustin Gloor, who used his grant to complete an original study of eminent domain property takings, by local government entities, around the Charlotte region over the last two decades, and Jessica Redmon, who investigated the recent history of corporate philanthropy, focusing on the case of the Duke Energy Corp.  At the MA level, participants have included Bryan Gable, who combined his summer research on the development of the stock car racing industry in the Charlotte region with an internship in the NASCAR Hall of Fame; Lucinda Stroud, who used her grant to conduct original research into the history of agriculture and labor organizing in Arizona; and Maddy Rhinehart, who combined an internship at Charlotte’s International House with an original investigation of the economic integration of international refugees, in the Charlotte region.

Here are links to the current call for proposals and application form, for the 2019 summer grant competition:  Application Form for Dowd History of Capitalism Research Awards, 2019

Dowd History of Capitalism Initiative, Student Summer Research Awards Program, 2019, Call for Proposals and Proposal Guidelines