Three disciplines: Exponential

Antrim Ross ’16

When I was first looking at colleges, philosophy seemed like the perfect major; under philosophy I would learn to think critically in a manner that would carry over into whatever field I entered after college. However, I also knew that I wanted a liberal arts experience and looked forward to exploring different subjects. Specifically, I was excited for two particular subjects: economics and political science.

When, purely by luck, I came across Denison University at the end of my college search, at first it seemed no different from any of the other colleges I was considering. Then something caught my eye as I read through the information pamphlet: the philosophy, political science, and economics (PPE) major.

The college combined everything I wanted to study into one major.

The website warned that the program would be rigorous, but I was certain that the opportunity to study all three subjects in depth would be worth any amount of work.

In May of 2015, I just finished my third year at Denison, and my experience with PPE has surpassed all expectations. I fell in love with economics in “Intro to Macroeconomics” with Dr. Duroy where I learned not only about the elegant magic of supply and demand, but also about how to confront capitalism’s dangers.

In my philosophy classes I learned from the greatest minds how to grapple with abstract ideas and structure an argument, becoming a better writer and thinker in all my fields of study as a result.

Political science has exposed me to real world efforts at developing institutions that are responsive to human needs, and it has taught me how to go about evaluating those efforts.

The real value of PPE, though, doesn’t come from the chance to study three different subjects, but to unite them all into a single course of study. An understanding of economics lends insight to political science, political science puts philosophical ideas into practice, and philosophy demands ethical considerations of economics.

In this way, my learning experience as a PPE major extends even beyond the breadth of topics included in the major. I’m not just learning information; I’m learning how to process it. It’s about looking for connections and causality, it’s about determining how what is can become what should be.

That said, perhaps the greatest part of PPE is that it’s not something I do on my own. The relationships I’ve made with the professors who have become invested in my journey are ones that will stay with me. Dr. Maskit especially has gone far beyond simply helping me structure my major. He’s become a resource I can turn to whether I’m just looking to talk about a new song I really like or am looking for advice on what to do after I graduate.

For me, then, PPE has been more than a major. It’s how I look at life.

August 27, 2015