B.A. in Moral and Political Economy

A new major that inspires students to think about economic problems in social, cultural, and political contexts

Major Overview:

The B.A. program in Moral and Political Economy is a new interdisciplinary major that inspires students to think about economic problems in their social, cultural, moral, and political contexts.

Students who join the MPE major are encouraged to think flexibly across social-scientific and humanistic disciplines in conceiving novel and integrated approaches to problems of ongoing social concern. Its curriculum includes an intensive two-semester introductory course, Social Theories of the Economy; a reading seminar; an independent research lab; introductory macro- and microeconomics, five electives; and a mandatory senior thesis. Four of each students courses must align with a focus trackdesigned by the student and approved by the program.


A first round of applicants was admitted to the major in early April 2024. Additional applications will be considered from rising sophomores and juniors on a case-by-case basis until August 29, 2024. Rising freshmen will have the opportunity to apply for admission in early April 2025. Please direct any questions to Simon Halliday ([email protected]).

Major Requirements:

Students who enroll in the undergraduate major in Moral and Political Economy will be expected to fulfill the following requirements prior to graduation:

Social Theories of the Economy (100-level, 2 semesters, 6 credits)
An intensive introduction to writings that situate economic life in its historical, political, ethical, and philosophical contexts.

Reading Seminar (200-level, 1 semester, 3 credits)
Focused readings in a small tutorial environment on cross-disciplinary approaches to a defined problem in moral and political economy.

Research Lab (300-Level, 1 semester, 3 credits)
A venue for students to pursue research projects of their own design. Each seminar will be focused on a loosely defined theme, offering a structured environment that helps to provide scaffolding, deadlines, and a support system for independent research.

Elements of Macroeconomics (1 semester, 3 credits)
An introduction to the economic system and economic analysis, with emphasis on total national income and output, employment, the price level and inflation, money, the government budget, the national debt, and interest rates.

Elements of Microeconomics (1 semester, 3 credits)
An introduction to the economic system and economic analysis with emphasis on demand and supply, relative prices, the allocation of resources, and the distribution of goods and services, theory of consumer behavior, theory of the firm, and competition and monopoly, including the application of microeconomic analysis to contemporary problems.

Electives (5 semesters, 15 credits)
Students will select five courses taught in other departments (including Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology) that have been approved to count toward the major. The five courses must adhere to the following requirements:

  • At least two of the five electives must be at the 300 level or above
  • No more than three of the five electives can be listed within the same discipline, with the exception of economics (below)
  • No more than two of the five electives can be listed within the Economics Department.

Senior Thesis Seminar (400-level, 2 semesters, 6 credits)
This course will provide a communal environment and structured guidance for the completion of its senior thesis requirement.

Focus Tracks:

During the spring semester of the sophomore year, each student will propose a Focus Track that identifies a crucial problem in Moral and Political Economy that will help to orient their coursework. At least four of each student’s courses (among the reading seminar, the research lab, and/or the electives) must address the issues identified in their declared Focus Track. Students can pursue any of the following pre-established ten focus tracks, or propose an original focus track of their own design:

  1. Borders and Migration
  2. Cities and Communities
  3. Finance and Trade
  4. Gender and Identity
  5. Labor and Class
  6. Land and Environment
  7. Law and Social Order
  8. Progress and Development
  9. Race and Inequality
  10. Technology and Innovation

To submit a Focus Track Declaration Form for approval, please click here.

Course Approvals:

Many courses count automatically toward the MPE elective requirements and toward the ten focus tracks listed above. All 3-credit courses recorded on this document have been pre-approved for the elective requirements and for the designated focus tracks. If you would like to petition for any courses that are not on the document to count toward the MPE elective requirements, please click here. If you would like to petition for any courses to count toward focus tracks that have not been designated on the spreadsheet, or toward a focus track of your own design, please click here.


All students are expected to complete the senior thesis. They will graduate with honors if they maintain coursework in the major with a GPA of 3.5 or above.