The course introduces participants into classic debates on capitalism, development, and democracy through the contributions of Alexander Gerschenkron, Friedrich Hayek, Albert Hirschman, and Karl Polanyi. Rather than offering a full account of their oeuvre, the course walks participants through these scholars’ most influential studies on the role of ideas and institutions in the rise and transformation of capitalism; compatibility and contradiction between economic and political freedom; paths and pitfalls of development in the center and periphery of world economy; and the crises, lapses, and self-correction capacities of the capitalist system. The course is not meant to replace or replicate the department’s survey courses on IPE and development. Instead, the aim is to embed the latter in the history of ideas and link them to still ongoing debates with a long genealogy. Hence the main gains from participating in the course include witnessing concept formation „in action”, acquiring critical skills and at the same time learning to embrace complexity.