The program allows you to choose one out of our three specialisations, based on your preferences. Each specialisation focuses on a specific societal challenge and comprises two courses: The first one is a more foundational course, whereas the second one consists of real-life case studies.
After the compulsory foundational courses, you will have to choose one of the following three specialisations to gain more detailed knowledge in an area of your interest:
(!) Please note that these specialisations will be offered from the academic year 2023-2024 onwards.
Inequality and social inclusion
Rising inequality is one of the key topics we frequently encounter in the media and policy debates. Progressing globalisation, expanding financial markets and skill-biased technological change are identified as the main drivers of income inequality within and across countries. Rising income inequality is considered a potential threat to the stability of political systems and economic growth due to reduced opportunities and social exclusion of low-income households. While the public debate usually focusses on income inequality and wealth, many other inequalities arise in societies challenging policy. For instance, we observe gender inequalities in the labour market, unequal access to education and health systems, and intergenerational and interregional inequality associated with climate change.
This specialisation is designed to provide clarity on the topic of inequality by generating a clear understanding of inequality and resulting policy goals. After you have studied this specialisation, you will be able to answer the following questions:
- What is inequality and how can it be measured and identified?
- How do we evaluate inequality and what should the goal of distributional policy be?
- What are the causes and consequences of inequality?
- How can we act on inequality?
While we will focus on the economic perspective addressing these questions, we will also incorporate views of other social sciences.
Sustainable and resilient economies
Individual behaviour can collectively drive people and systems towards unsustainable and vulnerable states, where common resources are exhausted and collapse, competition erodes redundancies and systemic risks build up. In this specialisation, we will identify under what circumstances such dynamics arise, and how public and private risk management could be used to increase resilience and sustainability. Important concepts touched upon in this specialisation are asymmetric information, time inconsistency, self-fulfilling prophecies, and contagion. To analyse the causes and consequences of problems of sustainability and resilience, we will focus on three extremely important real-world cases: i) climate change and natural hazards, ii) management of the global commons, and iii) financial system fragility.
After you have studied this specialisation, you will be able to answer the following questions:
- What dynamics cause vulnerability and unsustainability of societies?
- How generalizable are these issues across different applications and fields?
- How can economic theory on the micro/meso/macro level be used to analyse real-life cases of unsustainability and vulnerability?
- How to choose and use the right methodology to analyse a specific case of unsustainability and vulnerability?
Technology, markets and societal change
New information and communication technologies change existing markets, lead to the generation of new markets, and profoundly affect the actors in these markets. Companies have been able to leverage the availability of big data and new digital technologies to fundamentally change the functioning of existing markets. New technologies have also led to the creation of entirely new markets and labour relations. Many of these impacts of new technologies have the potential to be welfare improving. However, many new technologies pose at the same time grave and unprecedented challenges: Providers of platforms often not only match buyers and sellers but also sell to buyers themselves. Digital ecosystems lock in consumers and foster network externalities on a dramatic scale. In these cases, new technologies give rise to fundamentally new, problematic market dynamics, as evidenced by the dominance of key players such as Amazon or Google.
This specialisation analyses these challenges that arise from new technologies and how this changes society. After you have studied this specialisation, you will be able to answer the following questions:
- How do new technologies affect existing markets?
- How do new technologies lead to the creation of new markets?
- What are potential competition and antitrust issues?
- What is a responsible (governmental) reaction to new technologies?