While academic disciplines excel at developing expert knowledge, they often fail to attune students to the big picture. Dartmouth’s Political Economy Project (PEP) engages students in the overarching questions of political economy—past, present, and future—questions such as: Is capitalism essentially a system of social injustice and exploitation, or a system of individual freedom and responsibility conducive to economic prosperity? What system of values is associated with human happiness? How do political and economic systems differ in their ability to promote the good life, and what role does political economy have in defining what the good life might be?
The Political Economy Project offers a serious, fact-based approach to a complex world. We are seeking to prepare a generation of future leaders to explore ways of life most conducive to human flourishing by challenging them to confront complex questions in a vigorous and open-minded way. We will engage in three core activities that have achieved these ends in the past and are likely to continue doing so in the future, including: 1) courses across Economics, Government, Philosophy and Sociology, such as “The Future of Capitalism” and “Adam Smith and the Political Economy;” 2) lectures by prominent visiting speakers that enrich the curriculum; and 3) public debates with esteemed visiting guests that explore controversial contemporary topics. Ultimately, we aim to serve as a model for other colleges and universities looking to teach and study the important topic of political economy in its widest human dimensions.