New major comprises philosophy, politics, economics and law

A new interdisciplinary major and minor in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law (PPEL) is now offered in the College of Arts and Sciences for students interested in addressing the complicated issues of our times. Modeled on Oxford University’s longstanding program, PPEL requires students to think critically about the relationships between the institutions that make up our society. The program was founded at Oxford to develop leaders in civic affairs.

Students develop sharp analytical thinking skills as they address questions about how society should be and the right approaches to achieve those ends. For example, how should we respond to climate change? What does an ethical health care system look like? Should money have a role in politics? Is technology beneficial to human existence? What kind of economy is best? What is the role of government, and where does it get its authority?

“It’s really important that people ask these moral and political questions in an informed way,” said PPEL director Dr. Kevin Vallier, philosophy.

BGSU’s PPEL major is the first offered at a public research university in Ohio.

“It’s a very natural fit for BGSU,” Vallier said. “We have an applied philosophy program here — we study how philosophy is applicable to contemporary issues — and PPEL is all about real issues. We’re equipping our students to be rigorous thinkers and problem solvers, which will be of real value to them as they seek jobs after college.”

The versatile curriculum prepares graduates to be leaders in areas such as business, philosophy, public policy, medical ethics and in international positions. With its emphasis on research and argument, PPEL is also solid preparation for law school and graduate school.

The bachelor of arts with a major in PPEL consists of 36 credit hours and gives students a foundation in philosophy, economics and political science. The core courses integrate the three fields through analysis and original research. Students then select one of three tracks: law, ethics and policy or national and international perspectives, to further pursue their research interests.

BGSU also offers a minor in PPEL, which requires 21 hours of coursework. A gateway course provides an overview of topics such as the role of government in society and the proper organization of an economy. Students are introduced to different political and economic systems of thought. From there, they take six courses in philosophy, economics and political science.

Both majors and minors take a capstone course in their senior year and develop research projects on important social, political, economic or legal issues.

Alternatively, students can choose to double major in PPEL and another subject. Because of its rigorous curriculum, PPEL combined with a discipline such as sociology, history or women’s studies can make an especially robust combination.

“The PPEL programs at BGSU help students to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to engage in leadership-level decision making,” said Dr. Raymond Craig, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It epitomizes our philosophy of providing a practical liberal arts education and of developing students’ habits of mind, so that they can engage in critical 21st century problem solving. Graduates of this program will go on to become the leaders of the future.”

For more information, visit the PPEL website or contact Kevin Vallier at

Updated: 12/02/2017 12:37AM