At Harvard, in “Capitalism and the State,” colloquially known as CATS, Ms. Spar asked her students to flip their name cards sideways if they felt globalization was ultimately a good system. She paced excitedly, cheetah-print shoes roving the classroom floor.
After some mumbling and paper shuffling, about 80 percent of the students flipped their placards, signaling a thumbs-up on globalization. Mr. Egbosimba disagreed. Leaning forward in his back-row seat, he asked his classmates to rethink the view that had given rise to the world as they knew it — the International Monetary Fund, Hyatt hotels around the world and McDonald’s golden arches at every airport.
“I’m from the global south, the old colonies of the West,” said Mr. Egbosimba, who grew up in Nigeria. “Maybe there’s some version of this idea that could have led to acceptance and peace, but it’s not the one we built. As a victim of it, I can say that with confidence.”
His classmate Alan Xie, 28, piped up in agreement. “The distrust of elites connected to capitalism undermines the whole globalization project,” he said. “We’ve actually imported illiberalism as a result of having nice stuff.”
Still, most of their classmates remained in favor of a globalized economy. Ms. Spar summed up their arguments succinctly: “We’ve got growth. We’ve got nice stuff,” she said. “It worked.”
To which Rachel Orol, 29, seated in the front row, replied: “It worked for us.”
A committed anticapitalist might feel as comfortable at Harvard Business School as an avowed atheist across the river at the Divinity School. Still, management professors have realized that their students, more than in previous decades, are looking for lessons that go beyond accounting. They want to discuss business’s role in society, how it has created social ills and how it may help solve them.
Mr. Rouen, at Harvard, said the demand for classes on social impact and E.S.G. had been so high that those themes had been integrated into nearly every introductory class, including accounting. Curtis Welling, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, asks his students every year whether capitalism needs to be reformed. A decade ago, roughly one-third said yes. This year, two-thirds said yes.