In this course, we will seek to interpret capitalism using ideas from biological evolution: Firms pursuing varied strategies and facing extinction when those strategies fail are analogous to organisms struggling for survival in nature. For this reason, it is less concerned with ultimate judgment of capitalism than with the ways it can be shaped to fit our more specific objectives — for the natural environment, public health, alleviation of poverty, and development of human potential in every child. Each book we read will be explicitly or implicitly an argument about good and bad consequences of capitalism.
This course explores main answers to the question “when do governments deserve our allegiance?” It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.
This course explores the physical processes that control Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, and climate. Quantitative methods for constructing mass and energy budgets. Topics include clouds, rain, severe storms, regional climate, the ozone layer, air pollution, ocean currents and productivity, the seasons, El Niño, the history of Earth’s climate, global warming, energy, and water resources.