Skip to content

Spring 2025 Course

Progressive Alternatives: Institutional Reconstruction Now

Prerequisites: None

Exam: No Exam; two brief response papers during the semester and a longer response paper at the end, in lieu of examination.

An exploration of the past and future agenda of progressives, whether self-described as liberals or as leftists. What should they propose, now that they no longer believe in the usefulness of governmental direction of the economy or in the sufficiency of redistrubitive social programs? A basic concern is the relation of programmatic thought to understanding of change and constraint.

In recent historical period, progressives have sought to humanize the established order rather than to reimagine and remake it. Here the main focus is on institutional or structural change in the market system and in democratic politics Among the themes to be discussed are the nature and future of the knowledge economy, the status of free labor vis-à-vis capital, the relation of finance to production, the making of a high-energy democracy that no longer needs crisis to make change possible, and the education required by such economic and political alternatives. A central theme throughout is the content and implications of the idea of freedom. The course will draw on many disciplines and consider examples from many settings. It will try to develop ways of thinking as well as proposals for change.

Note: This course is jointly offered with FAS as Government 1092 and HKS as DPI-348.