12th Grade Readings and Resources

Fall Semester: What is the Best Possible Life?

Unit 1: Economics and Human Behavior

Economics is sometimes defined as the study of how and why human beings make the choices they do, and it’s usually assumed that studying economics can lead you to make better financial decisions. Some economists have even claimed that taking an “economic approach” to all aspects of our lives can help us become happier, more loveable people! Could this be true? To find out, we’ll spend this unit investigating economic behaviors from various approaches (traditional, behavioral, evolutionary, psychoanalytic), and along the way we’ll note their similarities and differences, as well as evaluate their strengths and limitations.

Unit 2: Capitalism and a Meaningful Life

Capitalism, an economic system characterized by markets, wage labor, and profit-making, emerged in western Europe during the 16th-century and quickly revolutionized how human beings lived in the world. Capitalism is responsible for unprecedented advances in agriculture, medicine, and technology—just try to imagine a world without supermarkets, antibiotics, and smart phones! And yet, capitalism has also contributed to widespread inequality, financial crises, and global climate change. The costs and benefits of capitalism raise questions that should concern all well-informed adults: To what extent does life in a capitalist society lead to a meaningful life? And how much—and in what ways—might capitalism be improved or changed so that it better contributes to human flourishing? These are just some of the questions that we will explore in this unit.


Handouts and Resources: