About the Major

About the Ethics & Public Policy Program

Ethics and Public Policy is a cross-disciplinary major that gives you valuable perspectives on intersecting issues that connect the study of philosophy, economics, political science, law, and sociology.  All of these disciplines involve, in part, a focus on practical questions concerning how we ought to behave and how we ought to regulate the behavior of others.  For example, the very reason for law’s existence is the regulation of human behavior, the enforcement of human ideals, and the resolution of human conflict.  Almost everyone would agree that what society ought to do will depend in part on actual or potential consequences of its actions.  In today’s world some of the most important consequences of actions and policies are economic.  It would be folly to try to reason clearly about how to rectify injustice, for example, without thinking long and hard about the economic impact of one’s plans.  But the values impacted by law and social policy go beyond the economic and include the role of policies in constructing the very fabric of society and the nature of the political state in which we want to live.
This major provides an ideal background for law school.  It brings to legal studies an important background in fields that will both explicitly and implicitly arise in the context of pursuing a J.D.  The study of reasoning that is an important component of the major will also be useful in preparing for LSAT’s, GMAT’s and MCAT’s.  The major is also excellent preparation for students interested in bringing an important and sophisticated cross-disciplinary perspective to such diverse fields as government, urban and regional planning, social work, and business.  Students interested in law, medical, or graduate school are encouraged to notify their advisor of their interests as soon as possible and make use of additional advising resources available to them.  

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.