About this course

In this multidisciplinary course, you will gain a foundational understanding of “equality” from an economic, sociological, political and philosophical point of view. You will learn about the various of forms of inequality in today’s world and in your own society, and we will explore to what extent inequality can be morally and politically justified. Finally, you will discover some possible tools to fight inequality.

Lesson 1

In this introductory lesson, we will learn how to measure inequality and we will analyse how inequality evolved over time. Through graphs and tables, we will understand the limits of measurements like the Gini coefficient or the “wealth owned by the top 1%”. For a large section of the lesson, though, you will discuss reasons why inequality matters and analyse yourself graphs concerning inequality/equality.

For this class, ask yourself “What is equality for you?” and “In which forms do we see inequality today in the world?”. Also, please watch the following two videos and read the article.

Videos to watch: How Do We Measure Inequality? | Lecture 2 | Inequality 101 + How Economic Inequality Harms Society

Optional additional video to watch: please watch this if you want an extra, easier explanation of the Gini coefficient and the Lorenz Curve, Measuring income inequality: The Lorenz curve and Gini coefficient

Reading link: Trends in Income and Wealth Inequality, please read this article in full and if you want to know more, feel free to click on the following pages (2 to 7) to read about inequality today in the US.

Lesson 2

Reading links: https://sevenpillarsinstitute.org/causes-economic-inequality/ + https://www.demos.org/blog/what-causes-racial-economic-inequality-and-what-doesnt + https://ourworldindata.org/economic-inequality-by-gender 

Today we will talk about causes of economic inequality as well as of gender, educational and racial inequality. Before the class, I would like you to reflect on the causes of inequality in society.

Lesson 3

Hello everybody! Today we will talk about social inequality and how it interacts with economic inequality. Before class, I would like you to reflect on the origins of your preferences, tastes and habits, and think about whether your gender, ethnicity, geographical location and economic background played a role in shaping these preferences.

Videos to watch before today’s class:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvzahvBpd_A
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjuV-XdYHhA

Lesson 4

Rousseau: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvjrE5nc4xshttps://www.the-philosophy.com/discourse-inequality-rousseau-summary

Rawls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-JQ17X6VNg + https://1000wordphilosophy.com/2018/07/27/john-rawls-a-theory-of-justice/ 

General: https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/15/why-wealth-inequality-isnt-a-bad-thing-commentary.html + https://ideas.ted.com/the-4-biggest-reasons-why-inequality-is-bad-for-society/ 

Hello everybody! Today we will move even further from the economic analysis of inequality and start discussing it through a philosophical lens. Before class, I would like you to watch the short video and do the short reading about Rousseau, then watch the video and do the reading about Rawls, and finally read the two general articles (if you can’t do both video and article, choose one). This should give you a general overview of and introduction to what we will discuss. Furthermore, don’t forget to choose your country of interest and a specific topic!

Lesson 5

Hello everyone! Today we will talk about inequality from a normative and philosophical perspective, trying to think critically about arguments that justify or challenge inequality. So start reflecting on whether inequality can be morally justifiable and to what extent, and to think about some reasons why we should reduce inequalities.

Lesson 6

Reading: please read this article, except for the second part (“2. Principles of Equality and Justice”) and put a particular emphasis on parts 3, 4 and 5 https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/equality/ 

Lesson description: Hello everyone! Today we are going to continue our discussion of “equality” from a more philosophical and political point of view, but with a focus on equality as relational and non-distributive. Hence, we will focus more on social equality than economic equality.


Lesson 7

Hello everyone! Today’s session will be dedicated to inequalities and Covid-19! My challenge for you today is to think about the way Covid-19 has reduced or increased inequality of income, gender, race, etc. Is Covid-19 the “great equalizer” as it is portrayed? At the end, both powerful and powerless, rich and poor, men and women are equally vulnerable to Covid-19. But is this the whole story? Reflect on this question, try to identify the ways Covid-19 reduced/increased inequality in your context and then watch these short videos to get some more inspiration:

Lesson 8

Hello everyone! Today we will talk about possible solutions in tackling inequality. We will think about economic, political and social policies that can reduce inequality in countries, and that can also lead to structural changes towards more egalitarian societies! (I know there are a bit more assignments today, but please try to work on your report first, then do the readings, and watch the videos only if you have time)

Videos to watch: 


Lesson 9

Hello everyone! Today we will continue our discussion of solutions to inequality – political, economic and social. Watch the videos and finish the readings assigned yesterday, if you haven’t already, and try to think about potential policies to reduce inequality! And don’t forget to work on your report! 

Lesson 10

Hello everyone! This is our last class and as I already mentioned to you, I would like you to reflect on how you think inequality has impacted your life and how, after having discussed inequality in various forms, you see yourself in the world, in your country or in any social group like family, friends or school. Besides this, remember to complete your reports and prepare a 2-5 minutes presentation on the main findings of your report (No need to make a powerpoint;). See you soon!


Niccolò Gismondi