LSA to offer new Philosophy, Politics and Economics major

By Katie Burke, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 8, 2011

For LSA students who can’t decide on a concentration, one new interdisciplinary concentration focused on global issues might be the right fit.

LSA is introducing a new concentration next semester within the Department of Philosophy entitled Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, which will involve collaborative efforts from the three departments.

Requirements for the concentration include a combination of formal reasoning courses such as statistics, normative theory and political economy. Students will also be required to choose a concentration theme like global justice or modern immigration patterns.

The prerequisites for the concentration include introductory classes in philosophy, political science, economics and calculus. To declare, students must apply with a transcript and a one-page statement about their interest in the program.

Elizabeth Anderson, director of the new PPE concentration and a professor of philosophy and women’s studies, said the program aims to equip students with the analytical skills necessary to combat current global issues.

“(The goal of the program is) to learn how to understand and describe what’s going on with these phenomena of politics and economics in relation to what do we want the world to be like,” Anderson said.

She said the concentration emphasizes a combination of qualitative and quantitative reasoning — skills that can prepare students for success in the competitive job market.

Due to the necessary faculty supervision for advising and limited resources, the number of students accepted to the concentration will be capped at 20 students next semester, according to Anderson.

Anderson said the concentration will be a good fit for “people who want to combine their passion for making the world better with very solid empirical understanding of (global issues).”

She said similar programs have proven to be popular among students at other universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania, University of Arizona, Duke University, University of North Carolina and Yale University.

Economics Prof. Jim Adams said he is excited about the collaboration because he is interested in interdisciplinary concentrations. He said the careful and reflective analytical tools provided by the curriculum will provide students with a variety of career paths ranging from education to legal practice.

“The program takes the best of the verbally rigorous training of the LSA with the best of the quantitative training of the LSA and puts it together in a dynamite package,” Adams said.

He added that the PPE program is expected to be a challenging concentration.

“There are a lot of hurdles that students will have to jump to navigate this program successfully,” Adams said. “It will require a lot of initiative on the part of the student.”

LSA sophomore Phillip Schermer, who said he is interested in applying to the program, said he views the smaller sized concentration as a way to personalize a much larger school.

“When students have opportunities where they can work in smaller groups with people with similar interests, they feel a deeper connection to the University," Schermer said.

He added that unlike double or triple majors, the PPE program frees up credits to explore other fields. Schermer also said he likes that the concentration consolidates multiple ranges of study and interests.

“I don’t know if I want to go into law or business, and (the PPE concentration) sets me up to do both," Schermer said. "This allows me to follow my career interest, and it allows me to take other interesting classes in the University."