Rethinking Capitalism: a new module for UCL from IIPP


Image: Tony Hall, CC BY 2.0


Capitalism is in crisis. Whether its widening inequalities of wealth and income, the growing threat of catastrophic climate change, flatlining productivity and underinvestment, falling living standards or excessive private debt and financial instability, it is clear that our economic model is suffering from systemic failures.


Economic policy since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007–08 has failed to address these challenges with worrying consequences, not least the rise of increasingly authoritarian regimes in western democracies.

Rethinking the role of the state and public sector in creating a new, more innovative, sustainable and inclusive economic system is the key goal of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Key to our aim is the understanding of markets as outcomes of the interactions between different types of economic agents. Markets can be actively co-created and co-shaped to achieve the sorts of outcomes we want — whether these be around the green economy, or a more caring society.


This means that a new policy lens must be linked to new thinking about how the economy works. For this reason we will be launching a new module — available to UCL students as an elective — called “Rethinking Capitalism”which links new economic thinking to new economic policies.


The module, which will be available from January 2019, will draw on the book “Rethinking Capitalism”, edited by Mariana Mazzucato (Director of IIPP) and Michael Jacobs (Visiting fellow in the UCL School of Public Policy). It will feature guest academic lectures from some of the chapter authors — including Stephanie KeltonWilliam LazonickMariana Mazzucato and Carlota Perez as well as other leading thinkers such as Branko Milanovic and Eric Beinhocker along with IIPP staff Rainer Kattel and myself.


To give students a real understanding of modern-day policy challenges, these lectures will be combined with presentations by policy makers working at the frontline of the issues under discussion, including from the Bank of England, the UK Treasury and government departments dealing with innovation and climate change.


Rethinking Capitalism will help students develop their critical thinking and make the connections between economic theory and real world policy issues. It will provide an introduction to a range of different perspectives, including Neoclassical, post-Keynesian, ecological, evolutionary, Marxist and institutional economics’ theories and how their different assumptions link to different public policies. The 10 week course will cover the following issues:


  1. How public policy can create and shape markets
  2. Rethinking fiscal policy
  3. Understanding money and monetary policy
  4. The role of the firm in innovation
  5. The economy as a complex system
  6. Global inequality
  7. Threats and opportunities of the digital economy
  8. The economics of land and housing
  9. Climate change and the green economy
  10. Capitalism and technological transformation


The module will be available to all UCL 2nd and 3rd year undergraduates and we will film all the lectures which will later be made available online.


We hope Rethinking Capitalism will become a favoured choice for UCL students and establish IIPP as a centre for the kind of new economic thinking needed to meet the Grand challenges of the 21st century.


by Josh Ryan-Collins | @josh ryan-collins


UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose | Rethinking how public value is created, nurtured and evaluated | Director @MazzucatoM

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