Wealth Inequality in History: The Four Horsemen of Levelling


Course Description

What factors contribute to the development of wealth inequality in a society? Why does wealth inequality matter? We will examine various examples of materially unequal societies, beginning with their emergence at the dawn of history (China, Rome, Japan). How has wealth inequality been viewed historically, and in modern times? How have people responded to wealth inequality in the past, and what means (political, social, economic) have been deployed—and with what success—to reduce inequality? How would we evaluate initiatives that address the issue?

Walter Scheidel’s image of the “Four Horsemen” of levelling (mass mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues)—factors that historically have reduced inequality—will anchor our discussion. Our core text will be Scheidel’s The Great Leveler, Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. Readings from relevant journal articles will supplement the main text.

Please note, that all courses have a maximum enrollment of 18 students.

Priority is given to students who pay upon registration.

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that we do not allow participants to audit courses for free.

Course Details

First Session: Tuesday, January 8th 2019

Course Length: 12 weeks, Tuesdays, 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Discussion Team: Paul Billette, Heather Stephens, Clare Hallward and Marilyn Kaplow

Course Fees: 

$150.00 (tuition fee) 

$100.00 (promotion for new students)

Reading and Administration Fees:



$185.00 (tuition fee)

$135.00 (promotion for new students)


NOTE: Reading Fees are included in the total price of the course.

Please note, degree students must schedule an appointment with the Admissions and Accreditation Committee to register for courses for this term. Degree students should not register online.

The course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, an administrative fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session.


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