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Why I Majored in PPE

Rachel Oda ’20

Choosing a major was very important to me because I knew it would fundamentally shape my Pomona experience. I spoke to faculty from many disciplines, upperclassmen, alumni and mentors who helped me to articulate exactly what I wanted out of my four years here and decide which major would fulfill these criteria. 

So, what did I want? I knew I wanted to take a wide variety of classes so that at the end of my four years, I would have working knowledge of many important topics and the ability to think through problems from multiple angles. I wanted to take from the best professors at the 5Cs so I could have the rigorous, inspiring, and engaging learning experience that I came to Pomona for and maximize my time here. I wanted to major in something that would allow me to hear a variety of viewpoints and have robust class discussions in the small, intimate setting Pomona provides. Finally, I wanted my major to prepare me for all of the career options I could see myself in which include politics, law, consulting, journalism, policy and public service. When I was thinking about the PPE major, Professor Susan McWilliams Barndt told me to take one class in each area (philosophy, politics and economics) until I did not like one of the areas anymore or I fulfilled the PPE requirements. Using this method, I would learn whether I liked philosophy and/or politics and/or economics and choose my major accordingly. This is how I proceeded, taking the PPE classes that interested me the most, and it turned out that I enjoyed all three areas. 

Now, as a senior PPE major, I am very glad that I chose this major and have never regretted my decision.  It has given me the opportunity to dig into all of my academic interests, including ones outside the three areas. It prepared me for prestigious internships in legal advocacy, policy, nonprofit work, academic research, and politics. It taught me how to think critically, write persuasively, and speak precisely. It gave me the opportunity to learn from brilliant, caring, and passionate professors who have become mentors to me. It gave me the exact Pomona experience I came here for. 

Agnes Mok '21

I have always been extremely interested in politics and came to Pomona with the intent of majoring in politics. As I continued my political studies, I felt myself increasingly drawn to exploring other related interdisciplinary field to supplement my politics classes. After taking two introductory economics classes and political philosophy, I found that these disciplines were incredibly helpful in informing my understanding of politics. A background in philosophy has helped me better understand political theory, and economics has been an integral component for navigating policy. Some of my favorite classes that combine these disciplines have been Classical Political Theory, American Constitutionalism and Democracy, Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy.

The summer before my junior year, I worked as a policy research intern in Hong Kong. I conducted two research projects: one regarding education policy for the greater Bay Area initiative, and one regarding the 2019 anti-extradition protests. The work I completed gave me a hands-on experience of policy research that combined all three components of my major.

As a declared PPE major with a focus in politics, I feel PPE has equipped me with perspective, structure, and interdisciplinary knowledge. I learned to think rationally, formulate clear and logical arguments, and communicate those arguments effectively in writing. The PPE program combines these disciplines in such a liberal arts manner that yet reinforces expertise and specialization. I feel I have a fuller, more varied, and more solidly rooted understanding of not only politics, but all three fields: politics, philosophy, and economics. Studying PPE has not only supported my initial interest in politics, but fueled my passion for it. I’ve been able to dive deeper, ask more complex questions and seek answers with curiosity and confidence.

Brandon Peevy '21

I have wanted to be a lawyer for most of my life, ever since elementary school. This passion is what drove me to the PPE major (philosophy, politics, economics). Any one of these subjects alone could have helped prepare me for law school and my legal career, but combined, they offer an immersive experience like no other.

Philosophy, admittedly, can be difficult at times. There are countless academic works discussing the definition of the law, justice or even rights. However, if you put in the effort and push through the material, you will find that it helps facilitate the critical thinking process. Philosophy not only challenges you to develop your own set of ideas, but it also helps you to construct and tear down arguments—vital skills for a lawyer. Politics seems straightforward at first, but it is far more than just conservative versus liberal ideology. It involves understanding where we are as a country, why we are here, and how to draft effective policies to push us toward the direction we want to go. If anything, it forces you to learn from and compromise with those who disagree politically with you, something that is both refreshing and necessary in our political system. Economics, like its name suggests, helps us to understand how our economy works. This stretches from trade policy, to the effects that taxes will have on small businesses. It can be math heavy at times, but the concepts and understanding it develops in me are irreplaceable, especially if I choose to go into corporate law.

Each one of these three subjects help prepare me to become a lawyer. The critical thinking, the relational and the economic skills that this major teaches me are crucial to understanding and relating to people who come from vastly different walks of life; something I must do as a legal representative. I definitely would choose no other major to pursue at Pomona.