Cross-departmental course: Economic inequality: Interdisciplinary perspectives

Economic inequality is increasingly recognized as a pressing social and political issue. At the same time, academic research on economic inequality is highly fragmented and discipline-specific. Economists and political scientists are primarily interested in patterns of class inequality within countries, while international relations scholars focus on the determinants and consequences of economic inequality between countries. Other dimensions of economic inequality (e.g. gender, ethnicity) are studied by sociologists and anthropologists. Disciplinary differences are reinforced by different conceptual understandings (inequality of opportunity vs. inequality of outcomes) and methodologies (quantitative vs. qualitative). At CEU, reflecting this broader pattern, colleagues from various departments have been involved in research and teaching economic inequality from various perspectives, which, however, have so far rarely been brought together. This is the rationale for a new cross-departmental course on economic inequality, to be test-run during AY 2018/19.

 The course is planned to contain three main parts. In part I, faculty members will give introductory lectures about discipline-specific approaches to economic inequality (political theory, economics, political science, international relations, sociology, gender studies). In part II, disciplinary perspectives will be brought into dialogue with each other, as two or three faculty members will team up to co-teach single sessions on specific themes (e.g. labour market discrimination, economic inequality and intergenerational mobility, economic inequality and violence). In part III, enrolled students will be divided into smaller groups with 3-4 members, and each group will explore a particular inequality-related issue with relevance for current public policy debates (e.g. capital taxation, labour market transparency, fair trade).

 The project team expect the course to strengthen cross-departmental teaching collaboration - if successful, the course could be built into the regular curricula of the related master programs – as well as CEU’s reputation as a centre of academic work on social justice and inequality.