Core Courses

The PPE core courses are intended to be interdisciplinary in a way that helps students apply a common set of tools across different disciplines. It is required that PPE majors take three of the four core courses offered. PPE 3001 and PPE 3002 are mandatory. PPE majors have the option to take PPE 3003 or PPE 3004 as their third core course.


PPE 3001/ECON 0120: Strategic Reasoning

Prerequisite: ECON 0100; This course may NOT be taken concurrently with or after  ECON4100 / ECON4101.

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 3002/PSCI 1200: 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 3003/PSYC 2750: Behavioral Economics and Psychology

Prerequisite: ECON 0100

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.


PPE 3004/PSYC 2740: Choice

The choices that people make determine their lived experiences, their social, economic, and political realities, and their overall well-being. For this reason, the study of choice is of special interest across both the sciences and the humanities, and is a central focus of academic disciplines like psychology, economics, cognitive science, neuroscience, computer science, and philosophy. This course will introduce you to the interdisciplinary study of human choice behavior, and will examine in detail what we know about how people make choices, how observed choice patterns and mechanisms relate to those in animals and artificially intelligent machines, and how we can accurately predict and influence people’s choices and choice outcomes. The primary objective of this course is to build students' understanding and appreciation of the diverse perspectives on human choice behavior. Moreover, by exploring the mechanisms and nuances of decision-making, students will gain insight into their personal choice patterns and acquire strategies to improve their own choice outcomes.