Core Courses

These courses are mandatory for all PPE majors, and are intended to be interdisciplinary in a way that helps students apply a common set of tools across different disciplines.


PPE 311/ECON 013: Strategic Reasoning

Prerequisite: ECON 001; This course may NOT be taken concurrently with or after Econ 212.

This course is about strategic interactions. In such situations, the outcome of your actions depends also on the actions of others. When making your choice, you have to think what the others will choose, who in turn are thinking what you will be choosing, and so on. Game Theory offers several concepts and insights for understanding such situations, and for making better strategic choices.  This course will introduce and develop some basic ideas from game theory, using illustrations, applications, and cases drawn from business, economics, politics, sports, and even fiction and movies. Some interactive games will be played in class.  There will be little formal theory, and the only prerequisites are some high-school algebra and having taken Econ 1.  However, general numeracy (facility interpreting and doing numerical graphs, tables, and arithmetic calculations) is very important. This course will also be accepted by the Economics department as an Econ course, to be counted toward the minor in Economics (or as an Econ elective).


PPE 312/PSCI 236: Public Policy Process

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of the policy-making process. There are four primary learning objectives. First, understanding how the structure of political institutions matter for the policies that they produce. Second, recognizing the constraints that policy makers face when making decisions on behalf of the public. Third, identifying the strategies that can be used to overcome these constraints. Fourth, knowing the toolbox that available to participants in the policy-making process to help get their preferred strategies implemented. While our focus will primarily be on American political institutions, many of the ideas and topics discussed in the class apply broadly to other democratic systems of government.


PPE 313/PSYC 265: Behavioral Economics and Psychology

Prerequisite: ECON 001 

Our understanding of markets, governments, and societies rests on our understanding of choice behavior, and the psychological forces that govern it. This course will introduce you to the study of choice, and will examine in detail what we know about how people make choices, and how we can influence these choices.  It will utilize insights from psychology and economics, and will apply these insights to domains including risky decision making, intertemporal decision making, and social decision making.