Chair, Professor JAMES E. MAHON

Advisory Committee: Professors: BRADBURD, C. JOHNSON, MAHON. Associate Professors: D. GOLLIN, PAUL.

The Political Economy major is designed to give students a grasp of the ways in which political and economic forces interact in the shaping of public policy. The major includes substantial study of the central analytical approaches in both political science and economics and seeks to surmount the sometimes artificial barriers of specialization that may characterize either discipline taken by itself. In the junior and senior years a conscious merging of the approaches in the two fields is undertaken in the three required Political Economy courses. (These courses are designed by, and usually are taught jointly by, political scientists and economists.) Political Economy 301 examines major writings in political economy and analyzes economic liberalism and critiques of economic liberalism in the context of current policy issues. Political Economy 401 examines interactions of international and domestic forces in contemporary issues. Political Economy 402 asks students to research and make proposals in policy areas of current importance. Background for these senior courses is acquired through courses in international economics, public finance, and domestic and international/comparative politics and policy.

Students in Political Economy 402 visit Washington, D.C. Sunday night through Wednesday of the first week of spring vacation to conduct interviews relating to their Political Economy 402 group projects. This is a course requirement and thus a requirement for the major.


Economics 110 Principles of Microeconomics

Economics 120 Principles of Macroeconomics

Economics 253 Empirical Economic Methods
or Economics 255 Econometrics

Political Science 201 Power, Politics, and Democracy in America
Political Science 203 Introduction to Political Theory

Political Science 202 World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations

or Political Science 204 Introduction to Comparative Politics

Political Economy 301/Economics 299/Political Science 333 Economic Liberalism and Its Critics

(NOTE: students may not take all three of the following electives in the same department.)

One Comparative Political Economy/General Public Policy course:

Economics 204 Economic Development in Poor Countries
or Economics 209 Labor Economics
or Economics 213 Natural Resource Economics
or Economics 221 Economics of the Environment
or Economics 503 Public Ecomomics
or Political Science 270T Environmental Policy

One U.S. Political Economy and Public Policy course:

Political Science 209 Poverty in America
or Political Science 216 Constitutional Law I: Structures of Power
Political Science 217 Constitutional Law II: Rights
Political Science 317 Environmental Law
Economics 205 Public Economics
Economics 230 Economics of Health and Health Care

One International Political Economy course:

Political Science 229 Global Political Economy
Political Science 223 International Law
Political Science 265 International Law
or Political Science 327 Global Politics of Development and Underdevelopment
or Economics 215 International Trade, Globalization, and Its Effects
or Economics 360 International Monetary Economics
or Economics 507 International Trade and Development

Political Economy 401 Politics of the International Economy

Political Economy 402 Political Economy of Public Policy Issues


Due to the special demands of this interdisciplinary major, the only route to honors in Political Economy is the thesis. Seniors may pursue the honors thesis course (Political Economy 493-W31) during the fall semester and winter study period. The third course contributing to such an honors program would normally be an elective in Political Science or Economics taken during the junior year. This course, which may be one of the required electives, must be closely related, indeed must prepare the ground for the honors thesis.

Juniors in the Political Economy major with at least a 3.5 GPA in the program may apply for the honors thesis program by means of a written proposal submitted to the chair before spring registration. Written guidelines for such proposals are available in the chair's office or on the program website. The proposal should have been discussed with at least two faculty members, and at least one faculty advisor from each discipline should be solicited by the student prior to submission of the proposal.

Final decisions about admission to the honors program will be made in early summer, when spring grades become available.

To achieve the degree with honors in Political Economy, the thesis must be completed by the end of winter study period and be judged of honors quality by a committee consisting of the two advisors and a third reader. A thesis judged to be of particular distinction will qualify its author for the degree with highest honors.


Despite the fact that Political Economy requires more courses than the typical major, plenty of Political Economy majors go abroad. Since the most popular time to take POEC 301 is the fall of the junior year, if you're thinking of spending only one semester abroad, Spring is the better choice. But lots of students go away for the Fall or the whole year. Political Economy majors have often been overrepresented in Williams at Oxford. If you do go abroad in the fall, you may take POEC 301 in your sophomore or senior years. The former is preferable (POEC 301 is not too hard for sophs) but the latter is more common, mainly because many people don't decide to become POEC majors in time. You'll probably want to get some major credits when abroad. The easiest to get are upper-level electives in political science and economics. Most programs for US students in Europe have a political science course on the EU, which is a good fit. We recommend against taking econometrics abroad.


The numbering system for courses offered and required in Political Economy is identical to the system outlined here.