The Age of the Individual: 500 Years Ago Today

The Age of the Individual: 500 Years Ago Today

October 31, 2017

Low Memorial Library Faculty Room, Morningside Campus, 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.

Admission to presentations is free and open to the public. Click here to register!





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


10:00am - 10:05am - Welcome remarks

Edmund Phelps, Winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics and Director, Center on Capitalism and Society


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 C. 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 - 11:55am - The Impact of Individualism

Richard Robb (Chair, Discusant), Professor of Professional Practice, SIPA, Columbia University and CEO, Christofferson, Robb & Company

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

David SidorskyProfessor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Richard SennettCentennial Professor of Sociology, the London School of Economics and Senior Fellow, Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University


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

Matthew Barzunformer 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 - by invitation only

Peter Jungen (Luncheon speaker), Chairman, Peter Jungen Holding GmbH


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


3:00pm - 4:00pm - Individualism, Humanities, Education

Charles Kolb (Chair), President and CEO, DisruptDC

Peter PazzagliniSenior Scholar, Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University

Mark C. BernerCEO and co-Chairman, Telos

Roya Hakakianwriter and founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center  

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


4:00pm - 4:20pm - Break              


4:20pm - 5:45pm - Individualism in the Economy

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

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

David GoodhartFounder, Prospect magazine

Michael WoodfordJohn Bates Clark Professor of Political Economy, Columbia University

Robert Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics, Yale University and Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University

Edmund Phelps, Winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics and Director, Center on Capitalism and Society

Andrzej Rapaczynski (Discussant), Daniel G. Ross Professor of Law, Columbia 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

Questions? Contact Lizzie Feidelson at or (212) 851-0260.