fbpx Economic Justice: Theory and Practice | Harvard Kennedy School
Mathias Risse Photo

Mathias Risse

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy

Consider these facts: The fortunes of billionaires grew by $2.5 billion a day in 2018 while the poorest 50% experienced a 11% decline in wealth. In the U.S., the wealth gap between the richest and poorest families more than doubled from 1989 to 2016, with the average net worth of a Black family one-tenth that of a white family in 2016. Located at the intersection of political philosophy, economic policy, human rights, and social movement theory, this course focuses on economic justice with a special emphasis on social and racial justice and on what justice demands of our economic institutions and policies. We’ll start with foundations (liberalism, neoliberalism, Marxism, racial justice, intersectionality), move on to policy challenges (labor justice, corruption, migration, philanthropy, etc.) and conclude with a part on building capacities/reimagining institutions (human rights, capability theory, reparations, social movements, etc.) to examine policy recommendations and social movements’ proposals for reform and reimagination. For concreteness, the course focuses on the U.S. with a particular emphasis on the intersection of racial justice and economic justice, but we also frequently apply a global lens.