The Age of the Individual: 500 Years Ago Today

The Age of the Individual: 500 Years Ago Today

October 31, 2017

Low Memorial Library Rotunda, Columbia University

9:30am - 6:00pm

On October 31, 2017, the Center on Capitalism and society will gather leading scholars in economics, philosophy and sociology to explore themes of individualism, emancipation and self-actualization that trace their roots to the day Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

Understanding these broad trends – how they evolved, where they stand today, and how they may play out in the future – have vital consequences for work, business and innovation.

The conference will take place in Columbia’s Low Library Rotunda with seating capacity for 350 invited guests. The event will include luncheon and a gala dinner. (Lunch and dinner by invitation only.) To RSVP or receive additional information, please contact Lizzie Feidelson at or (212) 851-0260.




9:30am - 10:00am - Registration and coffee


10:00am - 10:05am - Welcome remarks


10:05am - 11:10am - Origins of Individualism

James Mackintosh (Chair), Senior columnist, The Wall Street Journal

Christine HelmerProfessor of Religious Studies and German, Northwestern University

Mark TaylorProfessor of Religion, Columbia University

Susan Leetheologian and economist

Alan Mittleman (Discussant), Aaron Rabinowitz and Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Jewish Philosophy, Jewish Theological Seminary


11:10am - 12:15pm - The Impact of Individualism

Richard Robb (Chair), Professor of Professional Practice, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University and Christofferson, Robb & Company

George Rupp, former Dean of Harvard Divinity School and former President of Columbia University

David Sidorsky, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Richard Sennett, Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University

Harry Frankfurt, author, moral philosopher, and Professor emeritus of Philosophy, Princeton University


12:15pm - 12:30pm - Special Session: Remembering Jacques Barzun

Matthew Barzun, former United States ambassador to the United Kingdom

Charles Barzun, Armistead M. Dobie Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law


12:30pm - 2:00pm - Luncheon

Roman Frydman (Luncheon speaker), Professor of Economics at New York University


2:00pm - 3:00pm - Evolution of Individual Values and Economic Outcomes

James Mackintosh (Chair), Senior columnist, The Wall Street Journal

Juan Vicente SolaProfessor of Constitutional Law, Law School of the University of Buenos Aires and Director of the Centre of Law and Economics, University of Buenos Aires

Hans-Joachim VothProfessor of Economics, University of Zurich

Raicho BojilovAssistant Professor of Economics, École Polytechnique

Philip K. Howard (Discussant), Founder of Common Good and author of The Rule of Nobody


3:05pm - 4:20pm - Individualism, Humanities, Education

Charles Kolb (Chair), President, Partners 4 Affordable Excellence @EDU

Peter Pazzaglini, Senior Scholar, Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University

Mark Berner, CEO and co-Chairman, Telos

Roya Hakakian, poet and founding member, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center  

Barnaby Marsh (Discussant), founding partner, Saint Partners and former Senior Executive, Templeton Foundation


4:20pm - 4:45pm - Break              


4:45pm - 5:55pm - Individualism in the Economy

W. Bowman Cutter (Chair), Senior Fellow and Director of the Next American Economy Project, Roosevelt Institute

Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University, and Member, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University

David Goodhart, Founder, Prospect magazine

Michael Woodford, John Bates Clark Professor of Political Economy, Columbia University

Robert Shiller, Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale University and Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University  


6:00pm - 6:55pm - Cocktail reception             


7:00pm - 9:30pm - Dinner - by invitation only

Jean-Paul Fittousi (Dinner speaker), Professor of Economics at Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and LUISS Guido Carli University