Economic theories: from the classical and failed to the untested

Course Dates: 14/01/20 - 24/03/20
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: International House

Transforming nature, trading goods - we call it the economy. Scientists and sages across cultures have been discussing it for centuries. What do they have to tell us? Is there really no alternative? Tutor: Christian Michel.


What is the course about?

Throughout history many of the greatest thinkers have tried to understand what goes on when human beings are working, producing, saving, investing and trading goods. What vision of the world allows them to irreversibly transform nature? What moral issues are raised when appropriating land and means of production, when setting prices and lending money? What are the social implications of wage labour, profits, taxes, foreign trade and investments, and globalisation? These questions have been debated for 2000 years, and are still relevant today. If economics is a science, it is far from settled. Controversies rage. Many incompatible theories, some devised centuries ago, promise to deliver sustainable prosperity and achieve wellbeing for the inhabitants of this planet. The course will confront these ideas. It will offer students enough information to make their own judgments, whether these theories have been tried, whether they failed through some improper implementation, whether they remain little known, waiting for the right circumstances to be adopted, or whether they appear utopian and outlandish. Realism should not be confused with conformism.
[Tutor: Christian Michel}.

What will we cover?

The course will review economic notions from authors as diverse as Aristotle, Biblical and Koranic scholars, the Scholastics, Mercantilists, Physiocrats, Classical liberals, Socialists and Marxists, anarchists, Keynesians, Monetarists, and Austrians (with glimpses of lesser known, but no less imaginative theories.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

-Discuss a number of important thinkers of economics
-Analyse the discussions going on about the current crisis by replacing the discourses and policies in their historical context
- Have confidence in engaging in these conversations.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is open to anyone interested in what is happening in the world. No maths, no jargon. An open mind will help and a willingness to confront opinions with which you do not necessarily agree.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Clear visual presentations and group discussions will enliven each lesson. There will be no homework, but students will receive the slides and comments used in class, as follow-ups to the lessons.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

None, just an open mind, curious about the world we live in, is all that is needed to participate. A couple of texts will be identified for those who wish to reinforce their understanding of the topic.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Have a look at our range of economics and politics courses on our website or in our prospectus.

Tutor Biographies
Christian Michel

After a brief stint at Sorbonne University reading French Lit and odd jobs in the film industry, Christian Michel joined a financial firm in Paris, before moving to Geneva, working on projects in West Africa and Russia. To use a common metaphor, business is only looking at trees, whereas Christian was keen to gain a perspective on the whole forest. He developed an interest in economics, questioning the purpose of it all – why work, why trade, why money, why growth, and what effects do production and consumption have on us, on our society and on nature. Christian has written a couple of books (in French) on these topics and many articles. He has been teaching various courses at City Lit since 2013.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: HB028

Tue, eve, 14 Jan - 24 Mar '20

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Full fee: £159.00
Senior fee: £159.00
Concession: £70.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.