The International Political Economy (IPE) Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of international and global issues. International Political Economy uses tools and methods of political science, economics, and sociology as informed by an understanding of history and tempered by appreciation of cultural differences.
Students in the IPE program 1) gain an appreciation for competing theoretical perspectives; 2) study the overlapping economic, political, and social linkages between global actors and events; 3) master the application of this powerful framework to the analysis of a wide range of issues; 4) consider issues broadly and see how they are interconnected; 5) engage in critical and creative thinking; and 6) develop expertise through senior thesis research on a particular IPE problem or issue.
The program sponsors regular lectures and discussions on campus which encourage students and faculty to consider the integrated character of global economic, political, and social issues.
The International Political Economy major consists 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, Sociology and Anthropology, 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. 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 study intensely a specific problem or issue in their senior thesis. The IPE major clearly embodies the spirit of liberal education as we understand it at the University of Puget Sound.
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, sociology and anthropology, 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.
Since most IPE majors study abroad at some point in their undergraduate careers, they are advised 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.
After graduating in 2012, Peter Bittner received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Scholarship to teach English in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. He traveled extensively throughout the vast steppes, deserts, and mountains, and he had opportunities to stay with nomadic Mongol and Kazakh herders. He's currently writing a travelogue about his experiences. His blog about Mongolia is at http://peterswanderings.com.
Ali Hoover (IPE '13) comments on her post-graduate work with Population Services International/Vietnam: "I'm the only international staff member besides the country director, so I am responsible for all major English-language communications. I write donor reports, compile presentations, and do a lot of copy editing. Working in a primarily Vietnamese office with language barriers keeps things interesting. I think the best two lessons I've learned thus far are flexibility and creative communication. I know how tired you are of hearing it, but network like crazy. It gets you far!"
Interested in making global development a focus of your studies? Check out this interdisciplinary emphasis!