Previous Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses

Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses, Spring 2021

PPE 402-301: Research in PPE: Norm Building in Exceptional Environments (Tasch)

SEM: R 5-8 PM 

In this course, we will explore the opportunities, risks, and tensions associated with facilitating a healthy Arctic, as global climate change alters its environment and consequent political-economic processes respond. Facilitating the Arctic’s healthy future is not limited to understanding the competitive and cooperative interactions among the five coastal nations located within the Arctic Circle. The Arctic’s natural resources, for example, could be conceptualized as public goods by nations located beyond the Arctic Circle, including China, India, Japan, Italy, and South Korea. Strategies involving prosocial signaling by contribution (counting on others’ information seeking behavior), and inducing reciprocity (exchanging aid for access to resources) can all be used to “normalize” the Arctic’s future in favor of a particular stakeholder. In empirical studies and laboratory experiments we will investigate key questions that inform how the “exceptional Arctic” is being “tamed” to fit into an overarching and already existing legal, economic, and environmental system. 

 

PPE 402-302: Research in PPE: Social Mobility and Inequality (Berger)

SEM: R 4:30-7:30 PM 

This research seminar looks to select between four and five motivated and hard-working students to contribute original research on the topic of inequality in America. Inequality is one of the most pressing political topics of the moment, with every aspiring presidential candidate discussing this seminal issue. Building off a grant, we will look at original survey data to generate conjectures about inequality in political life and its relevance to the extant literature in Political Science. Students are expected to be willing to commit to a Fall and Spring sequence, as the ultimate ambition will be to publish our findings in a peer-reviewed publication.

This two semester course offers a wonderful opportunity to conduct collaborative research in a low-stakes setting, with the end-goal of securing a publication. This course also counts towards any PPE Thematic Concentration, fulfilling a Capstone requirement.

 

PPE 402-303: Research in PPE: Institutions and Development (Patel)

SEM: F 2-5 PM

This research seminar will cover a range of topics related to the political economy of institutions and development. We will consider the theoretical, empirical, and normative underpinnings of both formal and informal institutions and the role they play in social and economic development in the developing world. Specific questions we may consider include: What is the relationship between formal and informal institutions? How do institutions structure interactions between individuals so as to secure welfare gains from cooperation and coordination? Why do some communities overcome collective action problems to produce optimal social and economic outcomes, while others fail? We will use core concepts from PPE to evaluate and answer these questions

 

PPE 470 Social Policy - Philosophy and Public Policy (Patel)

SEM: R 4:30-7:30 PM

This capstone seminar will aim to assess a range of topics at the intersection of philosophy and public policy. We will consider conceptual and normative issues related to the operation of particular markets, failures of political and economic institutions in the developing world, and questions about distributive justice and equality. Specific questions we may consider include: Are some markets morally impermissible? Are sweatshops exploitative? Why is corruption harmful? What is a just distribution of income and wealth? We will use core concepts from PPE to evaluate and answer these questions.

 

PPE 471-301 Political Economy - Informal Institutions (Danese)

SEM: W 5-8 PM

Institutions are all around us: they are the laws, informal rules, and conventions that render interactions with other people less uncertain and more durable (Bowles). We will focus our attention on the informal rules that close-knit communities have developed to (i) manage common-pool resources (Ostrom), (ii) solve conflicts arising in simple workaday affairs (Ellickson). We will also discuss the relationship between social norms, Pigovian taxes, and Coasean bargaining, in societies in which regulation of behavior through all these three mechanisms is conceivable. Attendance is mandatory at all meetings unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor; students are expected to submit a weekly written reflection on the assigned reading and will present their reflection to the class. 

 

PPE 471-302 Political Economy - Money, Credit, and Debt (Danese)

SEM: T 3-6 PM

The ultimate facilitator of economic transactions, money has been the subject of intense scrutiny in the social sciences. Once tied to a hard “bullion,” nowadays money is essentially sustained by expectations about the intentions of its issuer. In this course, we are going to explore the question of what is money, and how it arose. We will also debate the proper scope of monetary policy, and the effects of the "monetization of everything" on social life. We will be relying on some of the classic authors in these debates (Mitchell Innes, Knapp, Simmel, Mises), as well as the recent literature from anthropology and social ontology (Graeber's Debt, Ferraris, Searle, Lawson, Harari). We will end with a discussion of the (nowadays fashionable) “Modern Monetary Theory" (or MMT).  Attendance is mandatory at all meetings unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor; students are expected to submit a weekly written reflection on the assigned reading and to present their weekly reflection to the class.

 

PPE 474: Judgment and Decision - Social Preferences and Social Norms (Tasch)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30 PM

Social preferences play an important role in political, economic and social environments. Despite the attention paid to negative behaviors, societies rely on norms of honesty, fairness, and trust—these positive features of human behavior form the foundation of a healthy market economy. We will discuss the ways that social preferences can help to explain the connection between relative income and happiness, relative earnings and job satisfaction, and their grounding for generosity and empathy impulses in individuals. Further, we will discuss how social preferences can be a useful tool to promote prosocial behaviors, such as the reduction of water and energy consumption and to increase political participation by encouraging voting. This course will help you to acquire the applied tools and practice important for understanding and critiquing recent scholarly articles in this field. Further, you will develop and evaluate arguments from multiple perspectives, and design an applicable project that addresses your research questions concerning social norms.

 

PPE 478 Inequality: An interdisciplinary perspective (Aldama Navarrete)

SEM: TR 10:30-12 NOON

In this advanced undergraduate seminar we will study the economic, political, and psychological consequences of inequality. In particular, one of the main aims of the course will be to understand the mechanisms through which people demand more or less redistribution. In doing so we will pay close attention to distinguish between actual inequality and people’s perceptions of it. Using both classic and recent scholarly literature from these three fields, we will analyze what shapes perceptions of inequality and how these, in turn, shape policy preferences.

 

PPE 481 Political SciencE: Trust and Uncertainties (Berger)

SEM: T 1:30-4:30 PM

Why do we trust some people and not others? What signals give us reason to trust some brands or products more than others? How can technology be used to build a more trusting world? Trust is a foundational feature of the decisions we regularly undertake and turns largely on the kinds of uncertainty that we encounter. This course will provide background on the different types of trust we elicit and the motivational conditions that bring these expectations about.

 

PPE 482 Psychology: Modelling Choice Behavior (Bhatia)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30 PM

This course will examine mathematical and computational models of individual choice behavior. It will cover modeling techniques from psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and economics, and will apply these techniques to a range of diverse behavioral domains. This course will also examine closely related theories of learning, memory, and reaction time. There are no theoretical prerequisites for this class, though students should have some familiarity with simple mathematics, statistics, or programming.

 

Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses, Fall 2020

PPE 402-301: Research in PPE: Social Mobility and Inequality (Berger)

SEM: TR 4:30 - 6 PM 

This research seminar looks to select between four and five motivated and hard-working students to contribute original research on the topic of inequality in America. Inequality is one of the most pressing political topics of the moment, with every aspiring presidential candidate discussing this seminal issue. Building off a grant, we will look at original survey data to generate conjectures about inequality in political life and its relevance to the extant literature in Political Science. Students are expected to be willing to commit to a Fall and Spring sequence, as the ultimate ambition will be to publish our findings in a peer-reviewed publication.

This two semester course offers a wonderful opportunity to conduct collaborative research in a low-stakes setting, with the end-goal of securing a publication. This course also counts towards any PPE Thematic Concentration, fulfilling a Capstone requirement.

 

PPE 402-302: Research in PPE: Norm Building in Exceptional Environments (Tasch)

SEM: F 2 - 5 PM 

In this course, we will explore the opportunities, risks, and tensions associated with facilitating a healthy Arctic, as global climate change alters its environment and consequent political-economic processes respond. Facilitating the Arctic’s healthy future is not limited to understanding the competitive and cooperative interactions among the five coastal nations located within the Arctic Circle. The Arctic’s natural resources, for example, could be conceptualized as public goods by nations located beyond the Arctic Circle, including China, India, Japan, Italy, and South Korea. Strategies involving prosocial signaling by contribution (counting on others’ information seeking behavior), and inducing reciprocity (exchanging aid for access to resources) can all be used to “normalize” the Arctic’s future in favor of a particular stakeholder. In empirical studies and laboratory experiments we will investigate key questions that inform how the “exceptional Arctic” is being “tamed” to fit into an overarching and already existing legal, economic, and environmental system. 

 

PPE 402-303: Research in PPE: The Gift (Danese)

SEM: W 2 - 5 PM

The exchanging of gifts constitutes an ideal ground for testing different theories of human motivation -- the rational, social, cultural and political "ideal types" discussed by sociologists and anthropologists. We will start reading two key books on gift exchange, Malinowski's Argonauts and Mauss's The Gift. We will then proceed to the copious secondary literature on Mauss and Malinowski, and to some modern application of the gift paradigm. Questions we will ask include: Are gifts as free and disinterested as we think? Can gifts build and structure economies? How do gifts differ from ordinary commodities we acquire in the marketplace? Why do we believe that intimacy, organs, blood, children should be given as a gift but not purchased as an ordinary commodity? Why do we rarely give cash gifts? 

In the Fall semester, classes will be seminar-style discussions on the readings. Attendance is mandatory at all meetings unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor. The objective of the Fall semester is to formulate an interesting research question and gather the supporting literature. In the Spring semester, students will concentrate on writing and gathering data for their final paper.

 

PPE 470 Social Policy - Philosophy and Public Policy (Patel)

SEM: W 2-5 PM

This capstone seminar will aim to assess a range of topics at the intersection of philosophy and public policy. We will consider conceptual and normative issues related to the operation of particular markets, failures of political and economic institutions in the developing world, and questions about distributive justice and equality. We will also consider some contemporary problems in public policy, such as justifications of various immigration policies, competing conceptions of public health, and reparations for America’s war on drugs. Specific questions we will cover include: Are some markets morally impermissible? Are sweatshops exploitative? Why is corruption harmful? What is a just distribution of income and wealth? We will use core concepts from PPE to evaluate and answer these questions.

 

PPE 471 Political Economy - Organizations (Danese)

SEM: W 5-8 PM

In this course, we are going to discuss questions such as: In a market economy, why do we observe entities such as business companies, non-profit organizations, cooperatives, etc? What is the purpose of authority and hierarchy in organizations? Is there a hybrid choice of organization between market exchanges and hierarchical organizations? To answer those questions, we will mainly draw from New Institutional Economics, the school of thought on organizations initiated by Ronald Coase and Oliver Williamson. By the end of this course, you will be able to discuss how transaction costs, capabilities, uncertainty, authority, and responsibility shape the choice among discrete governance structures for transactions and the boundaries of such structures. 

Attendance is mandatory at all meetings unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor; students are expected to submit a weekly written reflection on the assigned reading and to present their weekly reflection to the class. 

 

PPE 473 Modeling - Quantitative Methods Across PPE (Berger)

SEM: M 2 - 5 PM

The social and behavioral sciences cover a vast array of phenomena, the dynamics of which might be understood in any number of ways. Statistical models are the work-horse of the field, offering linear, additive representations of the causal relationship between system inputs and outputs. While powerful, there are many other ways we might conceptualize the dynamics of social systems. This course will provide an overview of foundational mathematical models that come to explore and explain social dynamics. Beyond the methodological exposure, the course seeks to teach "model thinking" where students learn the practice of modeling, growing their ability to think rigorously and critically about the world around them. From questions ranging from forest fires, to racial segregation, to why your friends are better looking than you (on average), the course builds students' mental repertoires, allowing them to formalize real-world problems they encounter.

 

PPE 474: Judgment and Decision - Demand for Information (Tasch)

SEM: R 3-6 PM

Empirically, we know people avoid information that may reveal undesired outcomes when making medical and financial decisions. Similarly we know people who want to maintain a prosocial self-image avoid information when it allows them to justify selfish behaviors. In this class, we will discuss ways in which individuals depart from the standard economic assumptions that information avoidance occurs only when there is a strategic rationale for it. Further, we will investigate whether and how individuals may justify their avoidance of inequity-revealing information, in order to justify their own selfish or cooperative decisions, and how they can encourage others to do the same in social dilemmas. This course will help you to understand and criticize recent scholarly articles as well as make and evaluate arguments on different sides of issues. Moreover, it will prepare you to develop and design a project to address your research questions around demanding and avoiding information.

 

PPE 477 Social Psychology: Obedience (Royzman)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30PM

Though almost half a century old, Milgram’s 1961-1962 studies of “destructive obedience” continue to puzzle, fascinate, and alarm. The main reason for their continued grip on the field’s attention (other than the boldness of the idea and elegance of execution) may be simply that they leave us with a portrait of human character that is radically different from the one that we personally wish to endorse or that the wider culture teaches us to accept.
In this seminar, we will take an in-depth look at these famous studies (along with the more recent replications) and explore their various psychological, political and philosophical ramifications. 

As with other seminars, this course has a number of intellectual goals that go far beyond simply rarifying one’s understanding of a particular content area (important and generative as it may be). One such a goal is to enable you to think critically (though not disparagingly) about other people’s research and theoretical claims that ensue from it, all with the hope that you can then apply the self-same critical acumen to your own future work. Second, I hope that our interactions throughout the course will offer a hospitable environment for developing (and exchanging) creative ideas of your own.  Your work on your individual reaction papers and on the term paper in particular will be a key element in achieving this goal. Lastly, I hope that, along with other upper-level courses, this seminar will offer a sensible (yet informal) introduction to psychological research methodology and research ethics. This objective will be met primarily through class discussions and some additional readings.  

 

PPE 483 Economics: Fairness and Altruism (Dillenberger)

SEM: R 3 - 6 PM

The course is designed to be an integrative experience, drawing on knowledge from economics and psychology to understand the role of fairness in behavior. PPE 311/ECON 013 is a strict pre-requisite for this course.

 

Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses, Spring 2020

PPE 402-301: Research in PPE: Social Mobility and Inequality (Berger)

SEM: TR 4:30 - 6 PM 

This research seminar looks to select between four and five motivated and hard-working students to contribute original research on the topic of inequality in America. Inequality is one of the most pressing political topics of the moment, with every aspiring presidential candidate discussing this seminal issue. Building off a grant, we will look at original survey data to generate conjectures about inequality in political life and its relevance to the extant literature in Political Science. Students are expected to be willing to commit to a Fall and Spring sequence, as the ultimate ambition will be to publish our findings in a peer-reviewed publication.

This two semester course offers a wonderful opportunity to conduct collaborative research in a low-stakes setting, with the end-goal of securing a publication. This course also counts towards any PPE Thematic Concentration, fulfilling a Capstone requirement.

 

PPE 402-302: Research in PPE: The Gift (Danese)

SEM: W 2 - 5 PM

The exchanging of gifts constitutes an ideal ground for testing different theories of human motivation -- the rational, social, cultural and political "ideal types" discussed by sociologists and anthropologists. We will start reading two key books on gift exchange, Malinowski's Argonauts and Mauss's The Gift. We will then proceed to the enormous secondary literature on Mauss and Malinowski, and to some modern application of the gift paradigm. Questions we will ask include: Are gifts as free and disinterested as we think? Can gifts build and structure economies? How do gifts differ from ordinary commodities we acquire in the marketplace? Why do we believe that intimacy, organs, blood, children should be given as a gift but not purchased as an ordinary commodity? Why do we rarely give cash gifts? Classes will be seminar-style discussions on the readings. Attendance is mandatory at all meetings unless arrangements have been made with the instructor. 

 

PPE 402-303: Research in PPE: Norm Building in Exceptional Environments (Tasch)

SEM: F 2 - 5 PM 

Why and how do human beings organize their lives to overcome the basic economic problem: the allocation of scarce resources? In this course, we will explore the opportunities, risks, and tensions associated with facilitating a healthy Arctic, as global climate change alters its environment and consequent political-economic processes respond. Facilitating the Arctic’s healthy future is not limited to understanding the competitive and cooperative interactions among the five coastal nations located within the Arctic Circle. The Arctic’s natural resources, for example, could be conceptualized as public goods by nations located beyond the Arctic Circle, including China, India, Japan, Italy, and South Korea. Strategies involving prosocial signaling by contribution (counting on others’ information seeking behavior), and inducing reciprocity (exchanging aid for access to resources) can all be used to “normalize” the Arctic’s future in favor of a particular stakeholder. In laboratory experiments we will investigate key questions that inform how the “exceptional Arctic” is being “tamed” to fit into an overarching and already existing legal, economic, and environmental system. 

 

PPE 470 Social Policy – The Economics of Crime: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Dimant)

SEM: T 1:30-4:30 PM

This is an undergraduate research seminar tackling the topic of crime from an interdisciplinary perspective. Our focus will lie on understanding the mechanism and motivation to engage in criminal behavior from the viewpoint of, among others, economics, psychology, and criminology. We will discuss cutting-edge research and students will develop and apply their theoretical knowledge by analyzing a criminal case in form of group projects. We will also feature external talks from practitioners. Past semesters’ talks were given by representatives of the FBI, SEC, World Bank, DoJ, DEA, and KPMG.

 

PPE 471 Political Economy - Informal Institutions (Danese)

SEM: W 5-8 PM

Institutions are all around us: they are the laws, informal rules and conventions that render interactions with other people less uncertain and more durable (Bowles). We will focus our attention on the informal rules that close-knit communities have developed to (i) manage common-pool resources (Ostrom), (ii) solve conflicts arising in simple workaday affairs (Ellickson). We will also discuss the relationship between social norms, Pigovian taxes, and Coasean bargaining, in societies in which regulation of behavior through all these three mechanisms is conceivable. Attendance is mandatory at all meetings unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor; students are expected to submit a weekly written reflection on the assigned reading and will present their reflection to the class. 

 

PPE 474: Judgment and Decision - Social Preferences and Social Norms (Tasch)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30 PM

Social preferences play an important role in political, economic and social environments. Despite the attention paid to negative behaviors, societies rely on norms of honesty, fairness, and trust—these positive features of human behavior form the foundation of a healthy market economy. We will discuss the ways that social preferences can help to explain the connection between relative income and happiness, relative earnings and job satisfaction, and their grounding for generosity and empathy impulses in individuals. Further, we will discuss how social preferences can be a useful tool to promote prosocial behaviors, such as the reduction of water and energy consumption and to increase political participation by encouraging voting. This course will help you to acquire the applied tools and practice important for understanding and critiquing recent scholarly articles in this field. Further, you will develop and evaluate arguments from multiple perspectives, and design an applicable project that addresses your research questions concerning social norms.

 

PPE 478 Inequality: An interdisciplinary perspective (Aldama Navarrete)

SEM: TR 10:30 AM -12:00 PM

In this advanced undergraduate seminar we will study the economic, political, and psychological consequences of inequality. In particular, one of the main aims of the course will be to understand the mechanisms through which people demand more or less redistribution. In doing so we will pay close attention to distinguish between actual inequality and people’s perceptions of it. Using both classic and recent scholarly literature from these three fields, we will analyze what shapes perceptions of inequality and how these, in turn, shape policy preferences.

 

PPE 481 Political Science - Trust and Uncertainties (Berger)

SEM: T 1:30-4:30 PM

Why do we trust some people and not others? What signals give us reason to trust some brands orproducts more than others? How can technology be used to build a more trusting world? Trust is a foundational feature of the decisions we regularly undertake and
turns largely on the kinds of uncertainty that we encounter. This course will provide background on thedifferent types of trust we elicit and the motivational conditions that bring these expectations about.

 

Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses, Fall 2019

PPE 402: Research in PPE (Berger)

SEM: TR 4:30 - 6 PM 

This research seminar looks to select between four and five motivated and hard-working students to contribute original research on the topic of inequality in America. Inequality is one of the most pressing political topics of the moment, with every aspiring presidential candidate discussing this seminal issue. Building off a grant, we will look at original survey data to generate conjectures about inequality in political life and its relevance to the extant literature in Political Science. Students are expected to be willing to commit to a Fall and Spring sequence, as the ultimate ambition will be to publish our findings in a peer-reviewed publication.

This two semester course offers a wonderful opportunity to conduct collaborative research in a low-stakes setting, with the end-goal of securing a publication. This course also counts towards any PPE Thematic Concentration, fulfilling a Capstone requirement.

 

PPE 402: Research in PPE (Tasch)

SEM: F 2 - 5 PM 

When do choices made in the pursuit of self-interest also promote social interest? In this course, we will investigate the choices that individuals make as they cope with scarcity and allocate limited resources into an account that provides payoffs with equity among individuals. A focus of this course is to learn about learning, using scientific methods. Specifically, students will work through conceptional approaches to real world dilemmas, focusing on an exceptional region—the Arctic. Then the class will turn to research that addresses three key questions that inform how the “exceptional Arctic” is being “tamed” to fit into an overarching and already existing legal, economic, and environmental system. 

 

PPE 402: Research in PPE (Danese)

SEM: W 2 - 5 PM

The exchanging of gifts constitutes an ideal ground for testing different theories of human motivation -- the rational, social, cultural and political "ideal types." We will start reading two key books on gift exchange by B. Malinowski and M. Mauss. We will then proceed to the enormous secondary literature on Mauss and Malinowski, and to some modern application of the gift paradigm. Questions we will ask include: Are gifts as free and disinterested as we think? Can gifts build and structure economies? How do gifts differ from ordinary commodities we acquire on the marketplace? Why do we believe that intimacy, organs, blood, children should be given as a gift but not purchased as an ordinary commodity? Why do we rarely give cash gifts? 

In the Fall semester, classes will be seminar-style discussions on the readings. Attendance is mandatory at all meetings unless arrangements have been made with the instructor. The objective of the Fall semester is to formulate an interesting research question and gather the supporting literature. In the Spring semester, students will concentrate on writing and gathering data for their final paper. 

 

PPE 471 Political Economy - Organizations (Danese)

SEM: T 3 - 6 PM

In this course, we are going to discuss questions such as: In a market economy, why do we observe entities such as business companies, non-profit organizations, cooperatives, etc? What is the purpose of authority and hierarchy in organizations? Is there a hybrid choice of organization between market exchanges and hierarchical organizations? To answer those questions, we will mainly draw from New Institutional Economics, the school of thought on organizations initiated by Ronald Coase and Oliver Williamson. By the end of this course, you will be able to discuss how transaction costs, capabilities, uncertainty, authority, and responsibility shape the choice among discrete governance structures for transactions and the boundaries of such structures. 

 

PPE 473 Modeling: Quantitative Methods Across PPE (Berger)

SEM: W 2 - 5 PM

The social and behavioral sciences cover a vast array of phenomena, the dynamics of which might be understood in any number of ways. Statistical models are the work-horse of the field, offering linear, additive representations of the causal relationship between system inputs and outputs. While powerful, there are many other ways we might conceptualize the dynamics of social systems. This course will provide an overview of foundational mathematical models that come to explore and explain social dynamics. Beyond the methodological exposure, the course seeks to teach "model thinking" where students learn the practice of modeling, growing their ability to think rigorously and critically about the world around them. From questions ranging from forest fires, to racial segregation, to why your friends are better looking than you (on average), the course builds students' mental repertoires, allowing them to formalize real-world problems they encounter.

 

PPE 474: Demand for Information (Tasch)

SEM: MW 2 - 3:30 PM

Empirically, we know people avoid information that may reveal undesired outcomes when making medical and financial decisions. Similarly we know people who want to maintain a prosocial self-image avoid information when it allows them to justify selfish behaviors. In this class, we will discuss ways in which individuals depart from the standard economic assumptions that information avoidance occurs only when there is a strategic rationale for it. Further, we will investigate whether and how individuals may justify their avoidance of inequity-revealing information, in order to justify their own selfish or cooperative decisions, and how they can encourage others to do the same in social dilemmas. This course will help you to understand and criticize recent scholarly articles as well as make and evaluate arguments on different sides of issues. Moreover, it will prepare you to develop and design a project to address your research questions around demanding and avoiding information.

 

PPE 477 Social Psychology: Obedience (Royzman)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30PM

Though almost half a century old, Milgram’s 1961-1962 studies of “destructive obedience” continue to puzzle, fascinate, and alarm. The main reason for their continued grip on the field’s attention (other than the boldness of the idea and elegance of execution) may be simply that they leave us with a portrait of human character that is radically different from the one that we personally wish to endorse or that the wider culture teaches us to accept.
In this seminar, we will take an in-depth look at these famous studies (along with the more recent replications) and explore their various psychological, political and philosophical ramifications. 

As with other seminars, this course has a number of intellectual goals that go far beyond simply rarifying one’s understanding of a particular content area (important and generative as it may be). One such a goal is to enable you to think critically (though not disparagingly) about other people’s research and theoretical claims that ensue from it, all with the hope that you can then apply the self-same critical acumen to your own future work. Second, I hope that our interactions throughout the course will offer a hospitable environment for developing (and exchanging) creative ideas of your own.  Your work on your individual reaction papers and on the term paper in particular will be a key element in achieving this goal. Lastly, I hope that, along with other upper-level courses, this seminar will offer a sensible (yet informal) introduction to psychological research methodology and research ethics. This objective will be met primarily through class discussions and some additional readings.   

 

PPE 483 Economics: Fairness and Altruism (Dillenberger)

SEM: R 3 - 6 PM

The course is designed to be an integrative experience, drawing on knowledge from economics and psychology to understand the role of fairness in behavior. PPE 311/ECON 013 is a strict pre-requisite for this course.

 

 

Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses, Spring 2019

PPE 402-301: Alessandro Sontuoso 


This course will expose students to current research in behavioral game theory and philosophy of science. As part of the course, students will write a research proposal on a topic of their choice. The proposal should summarize the current state of knowledge on the topic, identify an open question, and suggest a relevant mode of inquiry, with an emphasis on mathematical modeling.  

 

PPE 471:301 Political Economy - Organizations (Danese)

In this course we are going to discuss questions such as: In a market economy, why do we observe entities such as business companies, non-profits, cooperatives, etc? What is the purpose of authority and hierarchy in organizations? Is there a hybrid choice of organization between market exchanges and hierarchical organizations? To answer those questions, we will mainly draw from the literature on New Institutional Economics (Coase, Williamson, Hart, Alchian, Arrow, among others). We will also draw from Anthropology and Politics to have a broader understanding of authority; from Law to better appreciate the legal structures we observe; and from Business Ethics to analyze the ethical implications of organizational decision-making. By the end of this course you will be able to discuss how transaction costs, uncertainty, authority, social and environmental responsibility shape (or should shape) the choice of organizational form and the boundaries of organizations. 

 

PPE 471:302 Political Economy - Economy and Society (Danese)

We are going to discuss the relationship between economic relations on one side, and social obligations and positionings on the other. We will study the two extreme positions in this debate, one positing the full “embeddedness” of the economy in society, the other positing a complete separation between the two realms, and the territory in between these two extreme positions. Questions we are going to discuss include: Is rational economizing behavior applicable across cultures? How do gift and market exchanges interact? What is the nature of money? Is scarcity a psychological state or a socially-determined condition? We will draw from economic anthropology (Malinowski, Sahlins, Karl Polanyi, Schneider), sociology (Durkheim, Mauss, Pareto) and social ontology (Lawson, Searle).

 

PPE 472 Networks - Network Analysis (Sontuoso)

This course addresses elements of network science as relevant for analyzing the connectedness of economic or, more generally, social phenomena. Building on ideas from computer science, sociology and microeconomics, the course will examine the properties of networked structures and the behavior of agents within those networks. The models presented will aim to illuminate the relationship between one’s behavior and one’s social ties, thereby explaining phenomena such as the spread of ideas, social norms, market practices, and financial crises. Note: the course heavily relies on (introductory) material drawn from mathematical disciplines, such as graph theory, game theory, and microeconomics.

 

PPE 473 Modeling - Thinking with Models (Funcke)

The primary focus of the course is on understanding, designing, and analyzing simulation models. Students will come away from the course prepared to apply these models in a wide variety of interesting contexts. This course focuses on agent-based simulation models in the social sciences, especially in economic, in commercial and in strategic (game-theoretic) contexts. Agent-based models are a relatively recent form of computer simulation that seeks to explain and predict complex social phenomena “from the bottom up”, through interactions of comparatively simple agents. The course reviews experimental and theoretical results and exposes the students to modern development environments for, as well as successful applications of, this form of simulation. A modest amount of programming will be expected of students. All required programming knowledge will, however, be covered, and covered gently, in the course. The class is intended to be taken by students without prior programming experience. Our programming environments will be NetLogo.

 

PPE 474 Judgment and Decision Making - Trust and Deception (Hart)

This seminar will describe theories and research findings regarding trustworthiness and its counterpart, deception. We will discuss signals that may convey cooperative and deceptive intentions, and people's ability to detect them in different situations and paradigms. Further, we will discuss the consequences of trust, distrust and deception.

 

PPE 481 Political Science - Inequality in Political Life: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches (Berger)

Inequality is a foundational concern for the liberal political project. Liberal politics begins with the premise of basic human equality, and as such the existence of vast inequalities come to undermine the political order. Of course not all inequalities are problematic. Inequalities pertaining to cognitive, experiential, and identity diversity can be thought to enliven public life. However, other inequalities, like economic inequality, while not directly political, clearly threaten the cohesiveness and equity of the state by activating resentment by the "have nots" or by empowering the "haves" to engage in endogenous law making. Drawing from literature in empirical social science as well as political philosophy this course will assess the kinds, magnitudes, and relevance of various inequalities. 

 

PPE 482 Psychology – Modelling Choice Behavior (Bhatia)

This course will examine mathematical and computational models of individual choice behavior. It will cover modeling techniques from psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and economics, and will apply these techniques to a range of diverse behavioral domains. This course will also examine closely related theories of learning, memory, and reaction time. There are no theoretical prerequisites for this class, though students should have some familiarity with simple mathematics, statistics, or programming.

 

 

Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses, Fall 2018

470 Social Policy - Economics of Crime and Corruption: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Dimant)

SEM: M 2-5PM

This is an undergraduate research seminar tackling the topic of crime and corruption from an interdisciplinary perspective. Our focus will lie on understanding the mechanism and motivation to engage in criminal and corrupt behavior from the viewpoint of, among others, economics, psychology, and criminology. Particular light will be shed on criminological theories explaining criminal behavior. Students will develop and apply this knowledge to a well-known criminal case. We will also feature external talks from practitioners. Past semesters’ talks were given by representatives of the FBI, SEC, World Bank, and KPMG, among others.

 

PPE 471 Political Economy: Informal Institutions (Danese)

SEM: TR 12-1:30PM

Institutions are all around us: they are the laws, informal rules and conventions that render interactions with other people less uncertain and more durable. We will start with a game-theory analysis of conventions. We will then study informal rules that societies around the world have used to: (i) manage common pool resources, (ii) solve daily issues that small communities typically face. Finally, we will take an in depth look at one institution that has proven very influential in the Western tradition: democracy in classical Athens.

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • define institutions and list different examples of institutions;
  • discuss the role of institutions in alleviating a broad range of economic problems (prisoners’ dilemma, commons, coordination problems, collective action problems);
  • explain how the structure of knowledge affects the design of institutions;
  • predict conditions under which institutions are like to arise and to endure.

Core Readings:

  • Lewis - Convention
  • Ostrom - Governing the Commons
  • Ellickson - Order without Law
  • Ober - Democracy and Knowledge

 

PPE 472 Network Analysis (Sontuoso)

SEM: M 2-5PM

This course addresses elements of network science as relevant for analyzing the connectedness of economic or, more generally, social phenomena. Building on ideas from computer science, sociology and microeconomics, the course will examine the properties of networked structures and the behavior of agents within those networks. The models presented will aim to illuminate the relationship between one’s behavior and one’s social ties, thereby explaining phenomena such as the spread of ideas, social norms, market practices, and financial crises. Note: the course heavily relies on (introductory) material drawn from mathematical disciplines, such as graph theory, game theory, and microeconomics.

 

PPE 473 Modeling: Quantitative Methods Across PPE (Berger)

SEM: W 2-5PM

The social and behavioral sciences cover a vast array of phenomena, the dynamics of which might be understood in any number of ways. Statistical models are the work-horse of the field, offering linear, additive representations of the causal relationship between system inputs and outputs. While powerful, there are many other ways we might conceptualize the dynamics of social systems. This course will provide an overview of foundational mathematical models that come to explore and explain social dynamics. Beyond the methodological exposure, the course seeks to teach "model thinking" where students learn the practice of modeling, growing their ability to think rigorously and critically about the world around them. From questions ranging from forest fires, to racial segregation, to why your friends are better looking than you on average, the course builds students' mental repertoires, allowing them to formalize real-world problems they encounter.

 

PPE 477 Social Psychology: Obedience (Royzman)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30PM

Though almost half a century old, Milgram’s 1961-1962 studies of “destructive obedience” continue to puzzle, fascinate, and alarm. The main reason for their continued grip on the field’s attention (other than the boldness of the idea and elegance of execution) may be simply that they leave us with a portrait of human character that is radically different from the one that we personally wish to endorse or that the wider culture teaches us to accept.
In this seminar, we will take an in-depth look at these famous studies (along with the more recent replications) and explore their various psychological, political and philosophical ramifications. 

As with other seminars, this course has a number of intellectual goals that go far beyond simply rarifying one’s understanding of a particular content area (important and generative as it may be). One such a goal is to enable you to think critically (though not disparagingly) about other people’s research and theoretical claims that ensue from it, all with the hope that you can then apply the self-same critical acumen to your own future work. Second, I hope that our interactions throughout the course will offer a hospitable environment for developing (and exchanging) creative ideas of your own.  Your work on your individual reaction papers and on the term paper in particular will be a key element in achieving this goal. Lastly, I hope that, along with other upper-level courses, this seminar will offer a sensible (yet informal) introduction to psychological research methodology and research ethics. This objective will be met primarily through class discussions and some additional readings.   

 

PPE 483 Economics: Fairness and Altruism (Dillenberger)

SEM: R 3-6PM

The course is designed to be an integrative experience, drawing on knowledge from economics and psychology to understand the role of fairness in behavior. PPE 201/ECON 013 is a strict pre-requisite for this course.

 

 

Advanced Interdisciplinary Courses, Spring 2018

470 SOCIAL POLICY - Economics of Crime and Corruption: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Dimant)

SEM: M 2-5 PM

This is an undergraduate research seminar tackling the topic of crime and corruption from an interdisciplinary perspective. Our focus will lie on understanding the mechanism and motivation to engage in criminal and corrupt behavior from the viewpoint of, among others, economics, psychology, and criminology. Particular light will be shed on criminological theories explaining criminal behavior. Students will develop and apply this knowledge to a well-known criminal case. We will also feature external talks from practitioners. Past semesters’ talks were given by representatives of the FBI, SEC, World Bank, and KPMG, among others.

 

471 POLITICAL ECONOMY - Global Prosperity: Determinants, Threats, Policies (Bavetta)

SEM: W 2-5 PM

This course pursues three ambitious aims. First, it exploits findings from history, economics, political science, and philosophy to explore the unique phenomenon known to social scientists as the Great Divergence. The Great Divergence is the separation in income and prosperity between countries that the world experienced since the second half of the XVIII century. The exploration focuses on the causes that made the Great Divergence possible. In particular, the course identifies three determinants of prosperity — institutions, civic virtues and social norms, and culture — and illustrates the findings in the social sciences literature that support the role of each cause.

The second aim moves from the acknowledgement that prosperity is multidimensional and is connected with the understanding of self-realization. In particular, the course presents two views of self-realization — achievement and dynamism — and links them to Amartya Sen’s view of opportunity and to Edmund Phelps’s concept of dynamism, respectively. In addition, the course illustrates that these views carry different policy and political implications that bear profoundly different consequences for the kind of society that one wishes to promote.

The third aim is more general. The discussion about the causes and meanings of prosperity suggests that a particular ethos of freedom that combines the Smithian and the Schumpeterian man lies at the basis of prosperity. The course reconstructs this man, argues for his importance in the creation of prosperity, and suggests that the ethos of freedom that he or she embodies is fundamental to tackle the contemporary challenges that threatens the continuation of material and immaterial prosperity. In so doing, it delineates a form of humane liberalism.

 

PPE 472 NETWORKS - Network Analysis (Sontuoso)

SEM: W 3:30-6:30

This course addresses elements of Network Science as relevant for analyzing the connectedness of economic or, more generally, social phenomena. Building on ideas from computer science, sociology and economics, the course will examine the properties of networked structures and the behavior of agents within these networks. The models presented in this course will aim to explain how such networked structures may determine phenomena including the spread of ideas, social norms, market practices and financial crises. (The course is designed for an interdisciplinary audience and requires no theoretical prerequisites, but it will often present material drawn from formal disciplines.)

 

PPE 473 MODELING - Thinking with Models (Funcke)

SEM: T 1:30-4:30

The primary focus of the course is on understanding, designing, and analyzing simulation models. Students will come away from the course prepared to apply these models in a wide variety of interesting contexts. This course focuses on agent-based simulation models in the social sciences, especially in economic, in commercial and in strategic (game-theoretic) contexts. Agent-based models are a relatively recent form of computer simulation that seeks to explain and predict complex social phenomena “from the bottom up”, through interactions of comparatively simple agents. The course reviews experimental and theoretical results and exposes the students to modern development environments for, as well as successful applications of, this form of simulation. A modest amount of programming will be expected of students. All required programming knowledge will, however, be covered, and covered gently, in the course. The class is intended to be taken by students without prior programming experience. Our programming environments will be NetLogo.

 

PPE 474 JUDGMENT AND DECISION MAKING - Competition and Negotiation (Hart)

SEM: T 3-6 PM

Many of our social interactions involve conflict, in personal relationships and in the workplace. We may find conflict energizing and positive in situations such as athletic and creative competitions. Yet, in situations such as legal battles and warfare, conflict may be demoralizing and harmful. In the course, we will discuss psychological and physiological mechanisms underlying negotiation and competition, and the personal and societal implications of conflict. We will explore the following topics, among others: How our brains and society norms affect the prevalence and intensity of conflict; how the social context affects our willingness to compete; rivalry and conflict over time. Students will read experimental and empirical research, and lead the class discussions. There are no formal requirements, but students should have some familiarity with experimental methodology and statistics.

 

PPE 482 PSYCHOLOGY – Modelling Choice Behavior (Bhatia)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30

This course will examine mathematical and computational models of individual choice behavior. It will cover modeling techniques from psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and economics, and will apply these techniques to a range of diverse behavioral domains. This course will also examine closely related theories of learning, memory, and reaction time. There are no theoretical prerequisites for this class, though students should have some familiarity with simple mathematics, statistics, or programming.

 

PPE 484 PHILOSOPHY – The Empowerment of Women and Girls (Noah)

SEM: R 1:30-4:30

This is an interdisciplinary course on the empowerment of women and girls. We will read widely from philosophy to social science to public policy, law, and intervention strategies. We aim to know how best to understand, measure, and successfully intervene on our phenomena of interest. And we will integrate relevant ethical, social, political, economic, and technological considerations into our investigations.