Ethics and Public Policy: Path to Your Future

Ethics and public policy is an interdisciplinary major that presents perspectives on intersecting issues that connect the study of philosophy, economics, law, political science, and sociology. All of these disciplines involve a focus on practical questions concerning how individuals ought to behave and how they ought to regulate the behavior of others.

For example, law exists in order to regulate human behavior, enforce human ideals, and resolve human conflict. And, most people agree that what society should do depends in part on the actual or potential consequences of its actions, and some of the most important consequences of actions and policies are economic. So it is folly to try to reason clearly about how to rectify injustice without thinking long and hard about the economic impact of one’s plans. But law and social policy affect more than economics; they have a role in constructing the very fabric of society and the nature of the political state in which we want to live.

Students choose one field of specialization for the major and may find it easy to pursue a second major in another of the major's specialization fields, thus broadening their prospects for choosing graduate schools or beginning professional careers. 

The structure of the major allows for a great deal of flexibility, allowing students to combine it with a second major in one of the fields of specialization or other majors. Doing so provides students the opportunity to shape an academic program to best fit their future academic and career goals.

The Departments of Economics, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology and Criminology collaborate to present the major in ethics and public policy; the major is administered by the Department of Philosophy.

BA in Ethics and Public Policy

The Bachelor of Arts in ethics and public policy is an interdisciplinary major that gives you valuable perspectives on intersecting issues that connect the study of philosophy, economics, political science, law, and sociology. The structure of the major allows for a great deal of flexibility, allowing students to combine it with a second major in one of the fields of specialization or other majors.

Learning Outcomes

The general goals of the major are to:

  • give students familiarity with the subject matter and methods of four closely related, but distinct disciplines—philosophy, economics, sociology, and political science—acquaintance with which is particularly important for those entering law, government and public service, and related fields;
  • teach students to think critically, understand important distinctions, and present and defend positions;
  • allow students to see the connections between problems that arise in the four fields that make up the cross-disciplinary major;
  • encourage students to solve problems by drawing insights from different fields; and
  • prepare students for postgraduate work in one or more of the fields, law school, or any of the indefinitely many careers where the skills fostered in the major will be invaluable.

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Learn more about the program, including courses, curriculum, and requirements here.