Not long ago, many economists and policy makers regarded the big questions of economics as essentially solved. Indeed, in the aftermath of the Cold War, capitalism's hegemony was largely unquestioned, and economic policy was regarded as sufficient to smooth out the worst effects of the modern business cycle. In the face of growing inequality, perpetual economic crisis, and looming climate catastrophe, however, the foundations of this political and economic consensus has been thrown increasingly into doubt. This seminar therefore explores the state of capitalism and its futures, focusing in particular on questions of growth, inequality, ecology and sustainability as they are conceptualized in the present. What, for instance, is the history of growth as an economic idea? Can we continue to assume its centrality as we move into the future? What, moreover, is the place of inequality in our current state of economic affairs? Can inequality as it exists today be justified? Or does it throw the long term stability of our economy into doubt? What does global warming presage for the future of the global economy? Can analyses of it be approached in purely economic terms? Or does it pose a problem of such enormity so as to overwhelm the boundaries of economic thought? What, in the end, is the future of capitalism as a system of providing for the general welfare? Can it continue to provide for human need in its present form? Or do contemporary concerns about inequality and ecological crisis force a re-thinking of how we approach the intersections of economics and human well being?


Ramachandra Guha, How Much Should a Person Consume? Environmentalism in India and the United States (Berkeley: University of California, 2006), 220-250. [Download]
An analysis of the ethics of consumption under the conditions of global capitalism
Robert C. Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader (New York: Norton, 1978), 221-222, 236-243, 283-285, 302-312, 319-329 [Download]
Extracts from Marx’s “Grundrisse” and Capital
Will Steffen et al, “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (2011): 842-867 [Download]
An overview of the idea of the anthropocene
Peer Hull Kristensen and Glenn Morgan, 21st Century Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) [Download]
An argument about how changes in capitalist economic structures necessitate new approaches to the study of political economy
Elisabeth Moyer, Mark Woolley, Michael Glotter, and David Weisbach, “Climate Impacts on Economic Growth as Drivers of Uncertainty in the Social Cost of Carbon,” The Center for Robust decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy, Working Paper No.13-02. [Download]
A reconsideration of the economic impact of climate change and our approaches to calculating it
Fernand Braudel, The Structures of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 334-384 [Download]
An account of the rise of energy use in Europe before the Industrial revolution


8:15 a.m. Shuttle leaves Hyatt Place Hotel for Bartlett Hall (5640 South University Avenue).

8:45 a.m. Check-in, coffee

9:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks

Elizabeth O'Connor Chandler, Director, Midwest Faculty Seminar

9:15 a.m. Presentation 1

10:30 a.m. Coffee

10:45 a.m. Presentation 2

12:00 noon Lunch (on your own)

Preparing Future Faculty Luncheon (for those taking part) 12:15-1:30 at Bartlett Hall

2:00 p.m. Presentation 3

3:15 p.m. Coffee

3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Participant Discussion Groups

Group A, TBA
Group B, TBA

5:05 p.m. Shuttle leaves Bartlett Hall for La Petite Folie

5:30 p.m. Reception and Dinner at La Petite Folie.

8:00 p.m. Shuttle leaves La Petite Folie for Hyatt Place Hotel.


8:15 a.m. Shuttle leaves the Hyatt for Bartlett Hall (5640 South University Avenue).

9:00 a.m. Presentation 4

10:15 a.m. Coffee

10:30 a.m. Presentation 5

11:45 a.m. Lunch and Report on Discussion Groups (Lunch will be provided)

12:15 p.m. to 2:00pm Participant Discussion Groups

Group A, TBA

Group B, TBA

2:05 p.m. Free Afternoon (Shuttle leaves Bartlett Hall for the Ramada.)


8:30 a.m. Shuttle leaves the Hyatt for Bartlett Hall (5640 South University Avenue).

9:15 a.m. Presentation 6

10:30 a.m. Report on Discussion Groups

10:45 a.m. Participant Discussion Groups and Wrap-Up

12:00 p.m. Adjournment

(Shuttle leaves Bartlett Hall for the Hyatt at 12:10 p.m.)


Audio Download, March 5, 2014