Political Economy

The major in Political Economy exposes students to the rich intersection between economics and politics. Students study the social, political, and economic factors that affect, and are affected by, systems of production, exchange, and distribution, as well as the mix of values reflected in them.

At the heart of the major is the methodological and substantive overlap between economics and political science. Methodologically, political economy emphasizes rigorous and frequently quantitative methods, including formal modeling, econometrics, and comparative case study methods. Substantively, political economy analyzes how international and domestic political factors interact with macro and micro economic factors to determine outcomes in a wide variety of areas including globalization, international trade and finance, regulation, development, taxes, institutional design, the environment, and income distribution. The scope of inquiry ranges from developed countries, to developing economies, to nations making transitions to market-oriented systems.

The strength of the major is its ability to analyze important issues that do not divide neatly along the classic disciplinary lines of economics and political science. The intellectual enterprise typically goes beyond the constituent disciplines by combining traditional economic concerns about efficiency with traditional political concerns regarding distributional issues and legitimacy in market and nonmarket environments.

The major in Political Economy requires seven foundational courses, two core Political Economy courses, and two electives as follows:

Three of the following four core courses in the Government major:

  • U.S. Political Systems (GOVT-020)
  • Comparative Political Systems (GOVT-040)
  • International Relations (GOVT-060)
  • Elements of Political Theory (GOVT-080)

Four foundational courses in Economics:

  • Intermediate Micro (ECON-101)
  • Intermediate Macro (ECON-102) or International Finance (ECON-244)
  • Economic Statistics (ECON-121)
  • Econometrics (ECON-122)

Note that Calculus I (MATH-035) and Principles of Micro and Macro (001 and 002 or 003) are prerequisites for these economics courses.

  • Analytical Tools for Political Economy (PECO-201)
  • Capstone in Political Economy (PECO-401)
  • Two approved political economy electives

Integrated Writing Requirement

Effective expression of ideas through written work is essential requirement of the major. Political economists develop models and statistical tools to facilitate analysis. The PECO major requires that students build, solve, test, and present economic models. To do this well requires that students achieve transparency and clarity of ideas in their written work.

To help students achieve this goal the political economy program requires a written thesis from ALL PECO majors (not just those in the honors program). The thesis requirement is integrated into the capstone course, PECO 401, which serves to guide students through the arduous process of creating and communicating (in written form) original research.  The thesis must be completed in the senior year.

In addition to the capstone course, most of the 400 level elective courses in PECO require at least one short paper.  These courses are designed to instruct students on how to develop arguments, explain theories, or present evidence.