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Great Ideas Come from Great Adventures

Great Ideas Come from Great Adventures

David Balgley (IPE '16) in Stone Town, Tanzania. To learn more about David, check out our Student & Alumni Profiles page.

Live. Laugh. Learn.

Live. Laugh. Learn.

Mia Kelliher (IPE '17) in Freiburg, Germany, where she studied EU Integration in Fall 2015.

Experience the World Around You

Experience the World Around You

Did you know that two-thirds of IPE majors study abroad? Bridget Spencer (IPE '16) is pictured here, studying abroad in Denmark.

To the Heights, Scholar!

To the Heights, Scholar!

In accord with our university's motto, students of IPE travel to great intellectual heights. Pictured here is Ian Latimer (IPE '16) atop Brobudur in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia.

International Political Economy

About the Program

How are global issues shaped by political, economic and social institutions? How does the relationship between states, markets and civil society on a global stage affect issues like unemployment, poverty, and the environment? How are power and wealth distributed between and within nations?

The International Political Economy (IPE) major prepares students for an increasingly interdependent world through the study of global issues. Students take courses in IPE, as well as in economics, political science, sociology and anthropology, so they can understand the world from different (and sometimes competing) perspectives. The IPE major culminates in a senior thesis in which students demonstrate the depth and breadth of the liberal arts education to tackle a complex question. Many IPE alumni work in careers related to the interests they developed as IPE students.

Experiential Learning: Summer Grants for International Internships and Research

The IPE program funds several competitive summer grants to support IPE majors pursuing an international internship or an independent research project. Upon return, students write a report reflecting on their experience and give a presentation about their work.

Beyond the Classroom

The IPE program offers a variety of opportunities for students to study outside of the classroom setting and become involved in the community. Almost two-thirds of IPE students study abroad to further their education and international experience, while many others accept international summer internships. Locally, the department holds multiple brown bag events where speakers from the Tacoma area are invited to talk and students who are grant and award recipients speak about their experience.

After Puget Sound

After graduation, IPE students are equipped with essential writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills that prepare them for their future careers. IPE alumni have succeeded in a range of careers, in government, non-government, business or education, in the US and abroad.

Contact info

For more information on courses and major requirements, contact program director Pierre Ly at


1500 N. Warner St. 1057

Tacoma, WA 98416-1057

Ly: The First Exchange Scholar for UPS

Faculty Spotlight

In September 2015, IPE Professor Pierre Ly was the first exchange scholar for the Puget Sound – Fujian Normal University Faculty Exchange Program, generously supported by the Charles Garnet Trimble Foundation. Pierre's research, co-authored with his wife, Professor Cynthia Howson from the University of Washington Tacoma, explores the development of the Chinese wine industry. Since 2013, Pierre and Cynthia have spent their summers traveling to major Chinese wine regions to meet winemakers, grape growers, merchants and experts.

Martin Klingbeil ('14) in Sierra Leone

IPE Alumni Spotlight

IPE alumus Martin Klingbeil, pictured on the right, recently returned from Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he worked on the Sierra Leone Trial to Introduce a Vaccine Against Ebola (STRIVE). As an employee with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Martin helped run the final stretch of the trial. At the end of the trial, he helped stand up the permanent CDC office in Freetown. 

Angelica Spearwoman ('17)

IPE Watson Fellow Research

In 2017-2018, IPE grad and Watson Fellow Angelica Spearwoman will travel to Nicaragua, Thailand, India, and Australia to research the cultural, political, and economic structures that influence violence against women. This topic is a deeply personal one for Angelica, who says, “Much of my drive to apply for the Watson is for and about my sister. My own parallel journey of looking at my body, my vulnerability, and my position as a woman has also given me greater insight into the ways in which women are extremely susceptible to violence and oppression.” Learn more about summer opportunities here.

Thrift Books Warehouse

Department Field Trips

In Spring 2017, IPE students and faculty toured Thrift Books Warehouse in Auburn, WA. The company CEO gave the group got an exclusive tour of the warehouse, which stores used and rare books collected from across the country. Students got to learn about the company's inner workings, ask the company's representatives many questions, and receive discounts to buy books through Thrift Books' online store.