The Duke-UNC PPE Program

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Our world is shaped by a variety of organizations and institutions that have a profound impact on our lives. Understanding how they work, appreciating their interactions, seeing their impact, and being able to assess their value, is crucial. With this in mind, the PPE Program trains students to look beyond the borders of academic disciplines by offering them an integrated study of philosophy, politics, and economics.

Historically, the separation of the social sciences occurred only recently. If we look back to the founding fathers of economics such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, and John Stuart Mill, it becomes clear how close these disciplines once were. Economics grew out of the moral considerations of those theorists and their aim of finding socially stable ways of mutually beneficial cooperation. Similarly, the political theories of Hobbes, Hume, and Locke shaped the work of the founding fathers, and indeed, the political constitutions of a broad range of other countries.

The separation of the social sciences allowed the disciplines to narrow their fields of investigation and, as a consequence, to develop specific tools for their particular domains. In our highly interconnected world, however, this separation stands in the way of people developing the sort of comprehensive understanding that is demanded by the social, economic, and political problems that we face.  The PPE program gives students a chance to re-integrate the study of philosophy, politics, and economics in a fruitful way.

The Duke-UNC PPE Program offers a minor at UNC and a certificate at Duke. Students pursuing either the minor or the certificate can take courses at the other school to meet the relevant requirements. The Gateway and Capstone courses are co-convened, meeting for half the semester at Duke and for half at UNC.