Free MOOC on inequality and democracy – starting on Monday!

by Ingrid Robeyns on November 8, 2019

My colleagues put together a free MOOC that gives an introduction to the relationships between economic inequality and democracy (in particular political equality). I saw them working very hard over the months – it’s a hell of a lot of work to make a MOOC, even more so if you do this as a voluntary add-on to your regular work. Hence I’d like to salute them for their efforts, and share this with you since I’m a big fan of all things open access. I do not doubt that this will be interesting for people who are new to this question – which does not include most of the readers of this blog since we’ve been discussing these issues here repeatedly. But if you know people who might be interested, do let them now. There is no required background, and the MOOC is offered for free. More information below the fold.

Here’s the course description:

Most countries are getting more and more unequal. But the core of democracy is political equality: that everyone should have an equal say in how their country is run. Can we really expect these things to go together? Can people have equal political power while economic inequality grows and grows? This course takes students through the issues. It covers the reality of economic inequality, and how corporations and wealthy individuals are able to convert economic into political power. Students learn about lobbying and campaign finance, tax avoidance and capital flight. The course discusses the value of democracy, and the possibility of alternatives to our current economic system. This is an interdisciplinary course combining politics, philosophy, economics, history and law. The course is for anyone looking for an accessible introduction to these topics: concerned citizens, or those in fields such as politics, media, education, government or law. Although the topics are unusual, the difficulty level is similar to the first-year of an undergraduate degree. No prior knowledge is assumed.

Click here to get more information on course set-up and study-load, and to register.

{ 1 comment }


Kurt Schuler 11.11.19 at 2:11 am

I hope the course is a lot less naive about democracy than the description makes it sound. There are no believers in unmediated democracy, not even the contributors and commenters on this site: witness all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Brexit. How to translate the idea of giving everyone “an equal say in how their country is run” into practice is one of the knottiest problem of political organization and worthy of a course in itself.

It is also important to note that growing economic inequality in many countries is a much less important fact than the mass escape from poverty. Sixty years ago, for instance, incomes in China were more equal but the Chinese were suffering Mao’s Great Famine. Today incomes are highly unequal but millions of people are not starving to death.

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