International Political Economy
Connect through the IPE blog
Check out the IPE Weblog with postings by, about, and for members of the IPE community at Puget Sound. Puget Sound President Ron Thomas is shown here at a gathering of IPE alumni in Washington D.C. IPE students, faculty and alumni keep in touch with campus events (and each other) through the IPE blog and the IPE at UPS! Facebook group.More Information
Think Global. Act Local.
A high percentage of Puget Sound IPE majors study abroad as students and live and work abroad as graduates. IPE students have studied in more than 30 foreign countries and on every continent except Antarctica. Kelsey Quam (IPE '09) studied in Oaxaca Mexico and did independent research in Central America as a student. She is now in Peru on a Fulbright Fellowship.More Information
Many IPE graduates choose to serve local and global communities through programs like Teach for America and the Peace Corps. Puget Sound is one of the nation's top Peace Corps institutions. Jessica Bruce (IPE '08) is currently a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, Western Africa. Upon completing her service in Benin she will do graduate work at the University of Nottingham (UK) as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.More Information
About the Program
The International Political Economy (IPE) Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of international and global problems. International Political Economy encourages the integrated analysis of these problems and issues using tools and methods of political science, economics, and sociology as informed by an understanding of history and tempered by appreciation of culture and cultural differences.
Students in the International Political Economy program 1) gain an appreciation for competing theoretical perspectives; 2) learn to consider the multiple and overlapping economic, political, and social linkages between and among global actors and events; 3) master the application of this powerful framework to the analysis of a wide range of issues; 4) learn to consider issues broadly, to see how issues and problems are interconnected; 5) learn to engage in critical and creative thinking; and 6) apply these tools and develop expertise through senior thesis research on a particular IPE problem or issue.
The program sponsors regular lectures, discussions, and debates on campus, which encourage students and faculty to confront and consider the integrated character of global economic, political, and social issues.
About the International Political Economy Major
The International Political Economy major takes the form of a thoughtfully integrated set of courses in the social sciences leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy. The goal of this major is to prepare students for an increasingly interdependent world through the study of international and global issues. The IPE major culminates in a senior thesis in which students demonstrate their ability to analyze a complex question, bringing to bear both the depth of their knowledge and the breadth of their liberal arts education.
Students who major in IPE take required courses in International Political Economy, Politics and Government, Economics, Comparative Sociology and Mathematics. They tailor their plan of study to their individual educational goals by choosing additional elective courses. IPE majors are encouraged to pursue foreign travel-study opportunities as part of their undergraduate education. More than two-thirds of IPE majors typically study abroad. Many students combine foreign study with background research for the senior thesis.
Students who major in IPE thus combine broad, multidisciplinary studies of IPE, which examine global problems from a variety of perspectives, with the opportunity to focus more narrowly and to study intensely a specific problem, issue, or event in their senior thesis. The IPE major clearly embodies the spirit of liberal education as we understand it at the University of Puget Sound.
Structure of the IPE Major
The core of the IPE major is found in the three required IPE classes (201, 301, and 401) and the three elective courses. The other IPE requirements-in comparative politics, economics, comparative sociology, and statistics-provide necessary tools and skills and encourage the breadth of knowledge and sensitivity to differing viewpoints that are hallmarks of IPE at Puget Sound.
- IPE 201: Introduction to International Political Economy introduces students to the study of International Political Economy and surveys the international and global problems with which IPE concerns itself. This course is designed to be a useful element of the liberal education for majors and non-majors alike.
- IPE 301: Theories of IPE is for IPE majors only. IPE 301 features a rigorous analysis of the main theories of IPE. Students write a final paper that is intended to establish a theoretical foundation for further research in IPE, including especially senior thesis research. Students usually take IPE 301 in the junior year or in the fall of the senior year.
- IPE 401: Senior Thesis Seminar is the capstone course for IPE majors. Students come together in a working seminar format to share ideas, engage in critical discussions, and write and defend their senior theses. Ideally, each student's work in IPE 401 builds upon a foundation laid in the earlier courses, including especially IPE 301. In general, the more that a thesis is able to build upon past work the more it can be expected to achieve.
- IPE Major Electives. IPE majors take three elective classes chosen in consultation with their IPE advisor. Students who study abroad are usually able to count at least one class as an IPE elective. Elective courses must be pre-approved by the student's IPE advisor in consultation with the student. Elective classes should be chosen to broaden or deepen the student's understanding of IPE theory, provide economic, political, social or historical context for analysis of important IPE issues, provide specific expertise necessary for a student's senior thesis research, develop analytical tools useful in IPE research, and/or deepen knowledge of a particular country or region. Please note that at least one of the three IPE Major Electives must be an upper-division IPE course taken on the Puget Sound campus.
Other Important Issues
Since most IPE majors study abroad at some point in their undergraduate careers, students are advised to begin to consider foreign study options as soon as possible and to give special consideration to foreign language preparation. Although some study abroad programs have no formal foreign language requirement, other programs require as many as two years of prior language study. IPE students and their advisors should give serious consideration to foreign language preparation both for foreign study and with respect to senior thesis research needs and career preparation.
All Puget Sound students must take three upper-division elective classes as part of the university's graduation requirements. IPE students are encouraged to use courses taken for this requirement to broaden their understanding of IPE and contemporary global problems. Many IPE students plan eventually to pursue advanced degrees. It is wise, therefore, to consider what undergraduate courses might be most useful as preparation for law or graduate schools in addition to the coursework required for the IPE major.
Students who expect to pursue Master's or Ph.D. degrees, for example, would be wise to consult with their IPE advisors regarding additional coursework that may be necessary or advisable in foreign language, quantitative methods, or research methodology. Students who want to prepare themselves for the MBA degree should supplement the IPE requirements with core business classes such as accounting and finance. Students who plan to enter graduate programs in area studies, such as Asian Studies or Latin American Studies, should consider additional coursework in foreign language and literature, comparative politics, and cultural studies.