Reimagining Society

Capitalism, Socialism, and the Environment

July 6 – 26, 2024

In this three-week program, we’ll learn how scholars from three disciplines—Sociology, German Studies, and Environmental Studies—discuss what it means to be a human being in a capitalist society facing climate breakdown.

Some questions we’ll explore include:

  1. In what ways are we trapped in a capitalist economic system?
  2. How can we counteract our current understanding of human existence as workers who are detached from the earth?
  3. What would it take to reimagine our relationship with capitalism and the environment?
  4. Finally, why is college the time to tackle these questions and take action, both personally and institutionally?

Students in our program will learn strategies for entering and participating in a space of scholarly inquiry. Some specific skills we’ll work on include: close reading of scholarly texts; finding and citing sources; communicating ideas effectively, both orally and in writing; and intellectual conversations in small and large groups. We are seeking students who are excited to attend college and approach their learning with curiosity, energy, and diligence.

A row of students seated at a long classroom table with their laptops out look towards the front of the room.
A summer student explaining a research poster.

Academic Credit

Summer Carls can earn up to six Carleton course credits (typically transfers as three semester credits) for successfully meeting faculty expectations and completing course requirements. In addition to receiving written feedback about course performance from faculty, students will receive one of the following three possible grade designations: satisfactory (S), credit (Cr), or no credit (NC). Formal academic transcripts are available upon request for Summer Carl alumni and will reflect the name of the course and grade earned.

Courses and Faculty

Students in this program will experience one week of learning in each of the following course topics.

Working in a Capitalist Society

Human beings have always had to work. Capitalism changed when, where, and how we work. Today we spend the largest portion of our lives “at work” and what we do for a living shapes our daily activities, personal identities, and nearly everything in-between.

In the 19th century, Karl Marx argued that the capitalist system is rigged. Alienated from their labor, workers are mere cogs in the machine. If Marx was alive today, he would no doubt also be concerned with the insecurity most workers now experience. In this course, we’ll examine instabilities inherent to modern employment and consider some of the ways workers push back. 


Annette Nierobisz

Program Director

Annette Nierobisz is a Professor of Sociology and the Ada M. Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Social Sciences at Carleton College. Born to a Polish refugee family who settled in Winnipeg, Canada, she is co-author of the forthcoming book, American Idle: Late Career Job Loss in a Neoliberal Era. This work explores how older workers struggled to find employment after a layoff related to the 2008 economic crash.  At Carleton for more than two decades, Annette enthusiastically teaches aging and the life course, modern employment and unemployment, criminology and mass incarceration, and social science research methods. In the Summer Liberal Arts Institute, she loves helping energetic high schoolers discover what it means to be a successful student in a liberal arts environment. Annette enjoys gardening, cooking, playing foosball with her husband Rob, and walking their two rambunctious Alapaha Blue Blood bulldogs, Pooka and Pony.
Carleton Faculty Annette Nierobisz

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