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2024/2025  KAN-CSOCV1026U  Re-Imagining Capitalism. Towards Just and Sustainable Futures

English Title
Re-Imagining Capitalism. Towards Just and Sustainable Futures

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 100
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Social Sciences
Course coordinator
  • Liv Egholm - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • International political economy
  • Sociology
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 14-03-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
The course is aligned with and responds to CBS strategy around the "Nordic Nine", to build capabilities for a positive and sustainable future. In this sense, the course "Reimagining Capitalism" aims at analysing today's societal challenges and helping the students to build a set of analytical and critical tools to solve them. Moreover, the course focuses on the ethical dilemmas that the students will most likely encounter in their professional life and aims at helping them to identify sustainable and responsible ways to overcome them. Furthermore, the way the course is designed - with some key texts and ideas presented and then the students having to collectively discuss them together with the final exam being a critical essay on a topic of the student choosing - is in line with the idea that students must be critical when thinking and constructive when collaborating. Finally, the central idea of the course - that we must reimagine the ways in which our societies and economies work, if we are to tackle today's challenges - implies a sense of responsibility for the future generations and the idea that local communities, when interconnected in global networks, can become catalysers of positive change.
  • Define capitalism and learn about its evolution over the course of modern history;
  • Describe the various critiques posed to capitalism by critical theory and other sociological theories;
  • Interpret some of the most pressing societal issues (ecological crisis, rising inequalities, gender rights) in light of the contemporary debates on capitalism;
  • Describe the basic tenets of the various efforts to reimagine capitalism;
  • Challenge the boundaries of the current capitalist system and discuss the opportunities and limitations for change agents to positively impact it;
  • Identify the potentials and the shortcomings of the various efforts to reimagine capitalism;
  • Produce an original piece of written work for the final exam engaging with theories and empirical case studies in a coherent, critical and structured manner;
  • Learn to think in a creative, critical and imaginative manner; learn to work collaboratively and constructively in groups.
Re-Imagining Capitalism. Towards Just and Sustainable Futures:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Essay
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
See regulations for exam 1
Description of the exam procedure

In the written individual essay-exam (10-pages long), students will be asked to discuss a case or a theoretical debate of their choosing. The essay needs to critically engage with the theoretical concepts and literature discussed in class. For this reason, class attendace and proactive participation are essential in order to pass the exam


In the essay, students must engage explicitly with one (or more than one) of the sessions that composed the course. Students need to make it clear for the reader which session(s) the essay is centered on. Students must deploy concepts discussed in class by explicitly referring to the authors and the readings listed in the essential reading list. Of course, students are welcome to refer also to additional authors listed in the optional reading list or to movies/documentaries listed under each session.


Students are expected to write a critical essay, this means that it is not enough to write a summary of the readings in order to pass the exam. Students are expected to apply concepts to an empirical case study or/and discuss a theory, a concept or a debate by bringing in their “voice”. This does not mean that they put forward their personal opinion about the topic(s), but that they discuss theories and/or cases in their own original way, by, for example, bringing different theories into dialogue with one another, or discussing a case from a new theoretical perspective. In this sense, it is important that students do justice to the readings, i.e., that they clearly put forward what the original idea by the author is before applying it or combining it with other theories.


To make a "voice" coherent throughout the essay, it helps to have a clear research question formulated before starting to write, a question which is put forward at the beginning of the essay. This enables the student to check with each of the sections of the essay whether/how they contribute to answering that question.


More details regarding the exam content, layout and format will be provided through Canvas during the course.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

In order to critically understand the ongoing multiple crises on the economic, social and environmental level and in order to envision sustainable and just futures, an understanding of the current socio-economic system, namely capitalism, is a fundamental and foundational prerequisite. 


In the last years, and especially after the North-Atlantic financial crisis of 2007-2008, many scholars and observers have underlined the need to re-imagine our economies, their underlying logic, and their functioning mechanisms. Even the economic newspaper Financial Times has recently launched a media campaign and a column titled “Capitalism: Time for a Reset” encouraging business leaders to challenge the past decade's dominant business tenets of infinite growth and profits, and opening up the debate on topics such as the ethics of investing, the risk in big technology and the future of the corporate world.


As a response to this emerging awareness, many individuals, communities and organizations around the world are experimenting with new governance structures, with "purpose-driven" ways of doing business, with alternative ways of producing and consuming goods, and with non-conventional lifestyles. Some of these practices come from local, self-organized, grassroots societal niches but have the potential to disrupt the status quo by prefiguring in the present a better society for the future. For this reason, it is important to get to know them and interpret them not only as niches of innovation, but as seeds of scalable social and economic change.


The underlying “big” question to the course is the following:


Can we re-imagine and reform contemporary capitalism “from within” to make it a more just and sustainable system, or do we need to implement a totally new socio-economic system, a system able to sustain the flourishing of human and non-human life throughout the 21st century? 


The course is organized in two main blocks.


The first part titled “Theories and Critiques of Capitalism” will allow the students to define capitalism and understand its evolution over the course of modern history until today. In this part, we will also get an overview of the main critiques posed to capitalism by classical and contemporary social theory and by civil society. In parallel with these theoretical debates, we will learn how to frame, in light of the functioning of contemporary capitalism, some of the most pressing societal issues such as the ecological crisis in the Anthropocene, the relation between capitalism and democracy, the call for more equality and recognition by feminist social movements and LGBTQI communities, and the sky-rocketing inequalities between the Global North and South.


This will allow us to transition to the second block titled “Transformative Practices Towards Just and Sustainable Societies”. In fact, after the critique, the pars destruens, comes the pars construens: the proposal for alternatives. In this part, mostly based on case study discussions of existing communities, firms, networks, social movements and organizations, students will learn about the values, logics, strategies, practices, risks and challenges to ameliorate our economies and societies. Among the empirical case studies deployed, we find the case of  workplace democracy, the case of social and solidarity economy in the Global South, the case of "conscious" companies such as Tony Chocolonely or Patagonia, and, f the relation between capitalism and democracy, inally, the case of local democracy and local municipalism inspired by Kate Raworth's "doughnut economics" model. Most of the sessions in this part will include the participation of (in person or online) invited guests from civil society, the public and the private sector to share their experience and reflections on how to transform organizations and communities towards a more just and sustainable world. 


Each lecture is divided in two parts: during the first part the lecturer will expose the main ideas and theories, and in the second part the students will work in groups to discuss one of the key readings or a case presented during the lecture.


Description of the teaching methods
The course will combine a variety of methods, ranging from traditional lectures, discussions, creative learning exercises, case studies and reading groups

Students must read the essential reading material (listed in the course syllabus) before every class and are expected to actively participate during each session.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback is crucial for learning. In each class session, students will be engaged in active group exercises and discussions, where a series of peer-to-peer feedback tools will be practiced. Furthermore, feedback will be given to the entire class by the teacher at the beginning and end of each session. Finally, office hours (that students can attend individually or in group) will provide an opportunity for further personalised feedback.
Student workload
Course activities (including preparation) 156 hours
Exam (including exam preparation) 50 hours
Further Information

Course Faculty: Liv Egholm (course coordinator


The course is part of the minor 'Building Organizations for Sustainable Futures: Business and Economics in Transformation', but can also be selected individually.

Expected literature








Last updated on 14-03-2024