The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday June 3rd

PPE minor receives 3.4 million dollar donation

The Charles Koch Foundation has donated 3.4 million dollars to the Philosophy, Politics and Economics program at UNC, a growing minor among UNC undergraduates.

“The PPE minor is an opportunity for people to get a really well-rounded experience in philosophy and the social sciences without necessarily having to triple major,” said Dan Shahar, a research assistant professor in the PPE program. “If you were just studying one subject you might not understand the real world dimensions of what is actually going on, so if you bring these disciplines together, you get a fuller picture of these issues.”

To accommodate increasing popularity in the minor, the PPE program is hiring new faculty to sustain more courses, Shahar said.

“We’re also getting faculty involved from other parts of the University,” Shahar said. “For example, I know in the spring they’re trying out a class that is a bigger version of the PPE gateway. Instead of one person being in charge of a class, they’re actually having three professors team-teaching a class.”

This semester, Shahar is teaching a PPE first-year seminar and Ethics and Economics.

Students who complete the minor must take five courses, including a gateway course and a Capstone seminar. Emma Hutson, a senior majoring in public policy, decided to minor in PPE because she wanted to study the ethical aspects of social issues after learning about them in her policy classes. 

“In the PPE capstone, you write a research paper on a specific topic,” Hutson said. “I’m writing my paper on universal basic income and finding if it is morally acceptable and considering different proposals. It’s starting to become a mainstream issue rather than an abstract one.” 

Sam Pritchard, a sophomore majoring in political science and peace, war and defense, said his Modern Political Thought class helped affirm his passion for political theory.

“It’s been fascinating to be able to read Enlightenment thinkers and to take their perspectives and look on the present day with them,” Pritchard said. “I’ve loved it so much.”

Other students plan to use the PPE minor to further their education. 

Nicholas Batman, a sophomore public policy major, intends to pursue a Masters in Public Health and a law degree.

“I feel like PPE provides the perspectives needed to learn a lot about the government inside and out,” Batman said. “I really felt I needed to give a background to why we make the policies we make and theories behind them, and PPE provides a multifactorial view of how policy works and why we do the things we do.”

One of Batman’s favorite classes is a Bioethics course which counts toward the philosophy portion of the PPE minor. 

“Professor Christopher Howard has been amazing. He promoted a lot of discussion based on the readings we do and it’s such a good experience to debate with other students,” Batman said.

Shahar said it's a minor for everyone regardless of one's major. 

"I think if you are majoring in philosophy or political science or economics, it seems like it should be a no-brainer because it helps broaden your educational experience," Shahar said. "But if you’re not in those major programs, then the PPE minor represents an opportunity to think about these fundamental dimensions of public life.”

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