Seminar “Recent Advances in Basic Income Policy Research” SS23

Summer Term 2023

Prof. Jurgen De Wispelaere, Guest Professor Götz Werner Chair (GWP) of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory


This is a block seminar course discussing recent advances in basic income policy research, based on guest lectures and in-depth reading of key articles published in the past two years. The course can accommodate up to 12 students, keeping it to a small group to facilitate discussion. There are no formal requirements for students willing to participate: the only requirement is a critical but constructive perspective on the basic income proposal and a commitment to engage with readings and participate in the guest lectures and class discussion.

Aims and Objectives

This seminar is to introduce students to basic income as a policy proposal, which means the main focus will be on material that fits the broad field of policy studies. The main objective of this course is to provide students with insight into the challenges that basic income faces as it enters the policy process, as it moves from a general idea or philosophy to a specific proposal that needs to satisfy the requirements of political feasibility. The course will also discuss some of the strategies proposed by basic income scholars to try to circumvent or overcome these challenges.

Some of the challenges discussed will be barriers basic income shares with other types of policies, while others may be more specific to the basic income proposal. Similarly, some of the strategies to overcome the obstacles will be familiar from other policy areas, while others may be quite specific to the basic income debate. A second objective of this course then is for students to better appreciate, through understanding both the policy challenges and policy responses, what (if anything) makes basic income a policy proposal that is different from other policy alternatives in the area of social protection and the welfare state.

Format and Structure

The course is based on 6 important recently published articles that students are required to read in advance and will be examined in detail in class discussion. Each of the seminar discussions will be preceded by an online guest presentation by the author(s). The seminar takes place in two parts:

PART A: An online presentation and discussion with the author/guest lecturer, moderated by Jurgen De Wispelaere.

PART B: A 90 minute seminar in which students engage in an in-depth discussion of the article presented and reflect on some of the previous discussion with the author/guest lecturer.

The class discussion will be open-ended and moderated by Jurgen De Wispelaere; students will be expected to come prepared by 1) having read the text and 2) preparing at least one or two key observations/questions/comments to be emailed to the Lecturer in advance of the seminar. These observations (1-2 paragraphs max!) will help structure the class discussion.

Duration and Schedule:

The course is worth 6 ECTs for a total of approximately 20 teaching hours. The course takes place over 3 weeks, with each week featuring two 60 minute guest lectures, followed by two 90 minutes class discussions the next day. The total workload is approximately 180 hours.

Guest lectures will all take place online. Class discussions will take place in person. See the table below for venies.

Public Lecture
(60mins, online)
Guest LecturersClass Discussion
(2 x 45mins, in person)
Monday 24/4 (18.00-19.00)Prof. Milena Buchs Professor of Sustainable Welfare
University of Leeds (UK)
Tuesday 25/4 (16.15-18.00) HS 1136 (Kollegiengebäude I)
Wednesday 26/4 (17.00-18.00)Prof. Femke Roosma Assistant Professor in Sociology
Tilburg University (NL)
Thursday 27/4 (16.15-18.00)
R 00 016  (Wilhelmstraße 26, EG )
Friday 28/4 (18.00-19.00)Prof. Yannick Vanderborght Professor of Political Science
Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles (BE)
Tuesday 2/5 (16.15-18.00) HS 1136 (Kollegiengebäude I)
Wednesday 3/5 (18.00-19.00)Prof. Pilar Gonalons-Pons Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania (US)
Thursday 4/5 (16.15-18.00)
R 00 016  (Wilhelmstraße 26, EG )
Monday 8/5 (18.00-19.00)Prof. Tim Vlandas Associate Prof. of Comp. Social Policy
University of Oxford (UK)
Tuesday 9/5 (16.15-18.00)
HS 1136 (Kollegiengebäude I)
Wednesday 10/5 (18.00-19.00)Dr. Leire Rincón Post-doctoral Research Fellow
Humboldt University Berlin (DE)
Thursday 11/5 (16.15-18.00)
R 00 016  (Wilhelmstraße 26, EG )

Preparation & Readings:

Students are expected to read two articles per week. These will be made available via ILIAS.

Students are highly encouraged to read the following two articles in advance of starting the class.

  1. Jurgen De Wispelaere and Lindsay Stirton (2004), “The Many Faces of Universal Basic Income”, The Political Quarterly 75(3), pp. 266-274.
  2. Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght (2017), “The Instrument of Freedom”, in Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy, Harvard University Press.

Students will also be expected to read additional articles for their assessments.

Course Assessment

The course will be assessed on the basis of two components:

  1. The short observations emailed to the Professor in advance (15% of the final grade)
  2. Class participation (10% of the final grade)
  3. A written assignment critiquing one of the discussed articles. 4000-5000 words. (75% of the final grade).

More details will be available in the course ILIAS.

Target Groups

M.Sc. VWL (PO 2014)

  • Constitutional Economics and Competition Policy

 M.Sc. BWL (Public and Non-Profit Management)

  • Public Management
  • Public Sector Economics
  • Volkswirtschaftslehre

M.Sc. in Economics

  •  Economics and Politics


The seminar registration is on a first come first serve basis. If the course is full, you may join the waiting list. On this list, you will automatically join the course as soon as a slot becomes available for you. If you want to reject your reservation, please make sure to leave the Ilias course, as your slot should be available for others.

For the official registration, fill out the registration form in the first week of class. You are encouraged to attend the first sessions if you are on the waiting list, should there be potential to potentially move up. You will receive an email with the Zoom Links for the first classes.

To register, please use the link below.