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Game theory, justice, equality, market failure, and public choice will be among the topics explored in a new series of videos and allied content for undergraduates in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) programs at universities worldwide. The curriculum is being produced as part of a two-year project, led by Jonathan Fortier of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University and co-funded with a $217,400 grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

The first PPE program was pioneered at Oxford University in the 1920s as an alternative to the university’s classics-heavy standard humanities curriculum. Since then, PPE graduates from have gone on to become political and intellectual leaders in England and beyond. Students and alumni of PPE programs have included Christopher Hitchens, David Cameron, Benazir Bhutto, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Malala Yosufanzi. PPE curriculums are currently offered at 100 English-language universities worldwide, including 50 in the United States. Despite its reputation and spread, though, PPE instructors at an undergraduate level have noted a gap in good curricular resources on the topics covered.

The curriculum being developed by Fortier and his colleagues will be matched to topics covered in Philosophy, Politics and Economics: An Anthology, published in 2015 by Oxford University Press. That collection features readings of classical thinkers including Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Smith, and Aquinas, as well as more recent and contemporary voices like Friedrich Hayak, John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum, and Tyler Cowen. Several of the volume’s editors will participate in the development and filming of the curriculum content, which will include videos, sample syllabi, discussion questions, and related content.

“These resources will fill a real gap in current teaching resources, and should also find an audience beyond PPE courses,” says Amy Proulx, who heads the John Templeton Foundation’s work on individual freedom and free markets. Proulx notes the success of the Learn Liberty project, which the Institute for Humane Studies launched in 2011 with Templeton funding. Learn Liberty eventually produced more than 300 short videos which have amassed more than 30 million student views. “Working at the intersection of several disciplines, this project will help students explore serious questions related to freedom, value, and justice. It will encourage students to examine these ideas within the context of social, economic, and political institutions and to better understand the role these institutions play in free societies,” Proulx says.


Learn more about the project’s leaders at the Institute for Humane Studies.