Course Detail

Perspectives on Capitalism Seminar (33251)

Course Description by Faculty

  • Gertner, Robert
  • Content

    Capitalism dominates the globe. Yet the term itself carries diverse meanings, encompassing a wide range of societies and differing relationships between economic, political, and civic institutions within them. One need only think of American, Chinese, and Scandinavian "capitalism" to find three examples whose differences can sometimes seem fundamental. Meanwhile, critiques of capitalism are becoming more and more prominent in the politics of both the left and the right and in heated public dialogues about inequality, community strength, corporate influence, financial instability, global cooperation, and unchecked consumerism.

    In this environment, proposals abound to rethink both what "capitalism" can and should mean, and whether "capitalism" at all is the best route towards human prosperity. The University of Chicago is closely associated with one thread of this argument: the intellectual legacy of free-market capitalism laid out by influential thinkers such as Fredrick Hayek and Milton Friedman. But today, the University of Chicago is home to scholars of diverse and nuanced perspectives on the accomplishments, limitations, and future of capitalism. 

    The goal of this course is take advantage of that diverse expertise to equip Chicago Booth students with tools and perspectives that help them engage thoughtfully in these debates and extend them into application in their own roles as corporate, non-profit, or entrepreneurial leaders.  The course will provide students with an unbiased survey of the economic, social, and intellectual history of capitalism, sparking active discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing capitalist economies today and what "capitalism" can and should mean going forward. 

    View info session recording for more information.

    Students interested in enrolling should submit an application request form to indicate their meeting time preference for the discussion seminar. The course is 100 units but will be broken up into two course numbers/enrollments. 

    • 33250 Perspectives on Capitalism (0 units): meets 90 minutes per week on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:30pm at Harper Center C-25; lecture format with speakers
    • 33251 Perspectives on Capitalism Seminar (100 units): meets 90 minutes per week; small group discussion with required readings.  Possible seminar times are as follows: 

    Monday               10:00-11:30am                   Harper
    Wednesday         10:00-11:30am                   Harper
    Wednesday         4:00-5:30pm                       Harper (just before guest lectures)
    Wednesday         7:45-9:15pm                       Harper (just after guest lectures) 
    Thursday             10:00-11:30am                   Harper
    Thursday             1:30-3:00pm                       Harper
    Thursday             6:00-7:30pm                       Gleacher
    Saturday             1:30-3:00pm                       Gleacher

    This request form will remain open until Friday, February 18, 2022 at 5pm. Students will be emailed on Monday, February 21 with their results.  After the initial selection and enrollment process is complete, if seats are available, information on late registration will be communicated. Direct all inquiries to

  • Prerequisites
    • Application-based course

  • Grades
    No pass/fail grades.
    • No pass/fail grades

  • Syllabus
  • Spring 2022Section: 33251-01W 10:00AM-11:30AMHarper Center223 Conference RoomIn-Person Only
    New Course
  • Spring 2022Section: 33251-85S 1:30PM-3:30PMGleacher Center203In-Person Only
    New Course
Description and/or course criteria last updated: February 22 2022