Carnegie Mellon University

Grand Challenge Freshman Seminar: Capitalism, Culture and Inequality

Course Number: 66-110

This Grand Challenge freshman seminar on inequality is inspired in part by the specter of global income inequality. Income inequality has reached such a peak that 8 men own as much wealth as half the world’s population—the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people. Inequality may be a feature of all societies across history to some degree. But inequality strikes us an especially timely topic because of the current demands for greater political, social, and economic equality. Four professors from distinct disciplines—economics, anthropology, history, psychology, and literary/cultural studies—will introduce you to the concept of inequality in the age of capitalism. We will consider how inequality emerged as a social and political problem in the 18th and 19th centuries, and how it has re-emerged as a key concept for socio-political movements in our current moment. We will conclude with an inquiry into what the future of inequality might look like—especially with the coming of increased automation and the elimination of at least 50% of the jobs currently being done by human beings.

Academic Year: 2019-2020
Semester(s): Spring