Information for Students

Starting in the Winter term of 2021, we’re welcoming our second  Vienna Karl Polanyi Visiting Professor, Fred Block, to Vienna. In Course of his stay in Vienna, Fred Block, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis, will hold a PhD-seminar, give a public lecture and participate in an internal workshop at CEU accompanied with a public debate.

The Seminar will be open for students from University of Vienna, Central European University and Vienna University of Economics and Business. The realization of classroom meetings depends on the actual travel possibilities in November 2021. In case the journey has to be cancelled due to restrictions, these meetings will be held online. Given the time zone difference between Austria and California, the meeting time may be shifted to the evening hours.


The Research Seminar Origins of Our Time: The Great Transformation After 77 Years will be open for PhD-Students at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), University of Vienna and Central European University (CEU). Also, Master-Students at University of Vienna and CEU will be able to participate. Due to the Pandemic, the seminar will take place online. Participation is limited to eight students from WU, University of Vienna and CEU each. 


Interested Students have to submit an application with a letter of  motivation (1 page max) and a CV. Please send your application to the following mail-addresses and pay attention to the respective datelines:

WU: Andreas Novy (, September 27th 2021
University of Vienna: Bernhard Kittel (, September 23rd 2021
CEU: Carsten Schneider (, September 23rd 2021


There has been a revival of interest in the writings of Karl Polanyi in the last several decades, but there are significant differences of interpretation of his arguments and there has been a tendency by scholars to pull particular quotes or concepts from Polanyi without grasping the larger structure of his intellectual project.

In this course, we will seek a holistic understanding of The Great Transformation and show that his work provides us with some conceptual tools that are extremely useful in making sense of contemporary political, economic, and environmental crises. Polanyi’s analysis of the disastrous consequences of subordinating society to the market in the 19th and early 20th century provides a powerful template for understanding the consequences of neoliberal or market fundamentalist policies over the last four decades. Students will be expected to master Polanyi’s key concepts such as fictitious commodities, the double movement, the free market utopia, and his critique of the gold standard. They will also be able to distinguish Polanyi’s analyses from those of other theorists.

The focus of the course will be on the careful reading of The Great Transformation and a relatively small number of secondary works. Class meetings will be a combination of lectures, discussions, and student presentations. Students will write a paper on an approved topic and deliver a ten or fifteen minute presentation of their argument to the seminar. They will also be expected to participate actively in class discussion both asking and answering questions.


For further information / additional questions: