By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

Even after the Great Recession, the American economy continues to be the wonder of the world—nimble and efficient in a tumultuous environment. Innovative products and services crop up every day, implementing exciting new ideas and new technologies. The stock market is booming. Inflation, once an untamable menace, has vanished.

Yet somehow this picture of bountiful productivity has left many high and dry, and for younger people the American Dream seems elusive. Even those who study hard and act responsibly have trouble finding decent paying jobs. Many are hobbled with massive student debt. Their future, rather than being bright, seems in jeopardy. How can this be? Is this just the way capitalism works in the 21st century?

MIT Sloan Professor Tom Kochan provides the keys to understanding these issues in his new MITx on edX course, 15.662x The American Dream for the Next Generation. The course starts on March 23 and runs for nine weeks. Professor Kochan brings to the discussion the knowledge he has accumulated from decades studying employment patterns and labor-management relations.

You can familiarize yourself with some of his work by visiting the courses he has published on OCW: 15.668 People and Organizations, 15.676 Work, Employment, and industrial Relations Theory, 15.343 Managing Transformations in Work, Organizations, and Society.

The situation is dire, Professor Kochan admits, but he insists that it is decidedly fixable.

“I don’t believe that it’s some invisible hand of the market that’s created the challenges we’re facing,” he says in the introductory video to 15.662x. “Instead, its policies and attitudes, and actions or inactions that have created these problems. But I also believe that we can make a difference.”

That difference can arise from cooperation between employees, managers, educators, and government officials, and also from individuals making decisions about their own futures. Professor Kochan will take the students of 15.662x on a personal journey, helping them define the American Dream for themselves, and building a career plan to carry them forward.

Why not join them and see if you can find a way to a brighter future?

> Explore all of the upcoming MITx on edX courses here.