PUBPOL 475.004

PUBPOL 475.004: Utopianism & Public Policy

Winter 2014
10:20-10:20 am EDT
Course Section
Credit Hours

“Utopia” in Greek means both “good place” and “no place”—a paradise existing only in our imaginations. But no matter how theoretical or fanciful utopias may be, people still try to implement them, often with tragic consequences. In this class we’ll examine what goes wrong when governments or groups attempt to implement utopian policies and ask: is failure inevitable, and if so, why? Meanwhile we’ll pursue another line of thinking that holds that imagining utopia, despite its risks, can be a useful exercise: it enlarges our understanding of what is possible and poses radical solutions for intractable problems. Therefore in this course we’ll also study how utopian philosophy has contributed (or might contribute) to the development of innovative policy solutions. Readings will include the writings of Charles Fourier, BF Skinner’s Walden II, Le Corbusier’s The City of Tomorrow and its Planning, and Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.