April 25, 2019 | 52° F

New interdisciplinary minor at Rutgers combines philosophy, politics, economics


p-4-minor-whalen-rutgers-edu
Photo by Rutgers.edu |

 Alec Walen, the undergraduate director for the Program in Criminal Justice, said the previous certificate, which was inspired by a similar program at Oxford University, was much more credit-intensive than the minor, requiring 69 credits. 


Rutgers University will soon implement a new minor for students: Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).

The new minor intends to encompass these three fields in order to teach students how the social world works currently and how it could work in the future. Alec Walen, the undergraduate director for the Program in Criminal Justice and associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, said that before the minor, there existed only a PPE certificate. 

“The certificate was very intensive. It took 69 credits to get, 33 in the major plus 36 in total for the two minors,” he said. “That’s a lot of credits considering we had no gateway course, and no capstone course.” 

While students understood the concept of a major or minor, fewer understood what a certificate exactly meant. The certificate was created because a student asked about PPE, which originally was a program at University of Oxford, Walen said. Walen then met with undergraduate chairs of the three departments to create the certificate, but it was not as popular as expected. Only one student ended up graduating with the certificate. 

With a minor, the course load would not be so heavy, so Walen hopes it will increase the amount of students who participate in the program. The original program at University of Oxford was intended for students interested in leadership positions, and Walen wants to apply the same principles to Rutgers. He said in order to take up a leadership position, they should understand the power of business and government, as well as how they interact. 

Integrating these fields of study leads to more critical thinking and a unique skill set, Walen said. Regardless of whether the student pursues a graduate degree, the minor gives a more numerical sense of the business world with an added ethical and moral perspective. 

William Field, the undergraduate program director for the Department of Political Science, said the demand for PPE was growing, so after looking at similar programs across the country, the Department of Political Science decided that a minor was needed. The minor is not the standard six-course minor, but instead is nine courses, he said. Thus, the assumption is that students taking the minor would also be majoring in either philosophy, economics or political science. 

“The world we live in is politically driven ... understanding that and how you can influence it is crucial and (PPE) allows for a well rounded understanding of that,” he said.

Jessica Dicker, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the minor was useful because it gave a solid grounding of all three fields. She said the minor was also a way to prepare students for careers in business, public policy, international affairs and law. 

“Philosophy provides the tools to think analytically, economics takes that ability to think analytically and applies it into the understanding of market forces on a macro and micro level. Politics anticipates the impact of these decisions on policy and vice-versa,” she said. “They are all so interconnected and the skill sets gained in PPE makes students extremely marketable to employers in all areas in the spectrum from law, business and government.” 


Amanda Agwuegbo

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