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Program in Values and Public Life


Anna B. Stilz

Executive Committee

Charles R. Beitz, Politics

Sandra L. Bermann, Comparative Literature

John M. Cooper, Philosophy

Marc Fleurbaey, Woodrow Wilson School, University Center for Human Values

Johann D. Frick, Philosophy, University Center for Human Values

Eric S. Gregory, Religion

Elizabeth Harman, Philosophy, University Center for Human Values

Melissa S. Lane, Politics

Stephen J. Macedo, Politics, University Center for Human Values

Jan-Werner Müller, Politics

Alan W. Patten, Politics

Philip N. Pettit, Politics, University Center for Human Values

Kim Lane Scheppele, Woodrow Wilson School, Sociology, University Center for Human Values

Peter A. Singer, University Center for Human Values

Michael A. Smith, Philosophy

Anna B. Stilz, Politics

The Program in Values and Public Life, an undergraduate interdisciplinary certificate program offered by the University Center for Human Values, focuses on modes of inquiry into important ethical issues in public life. The program helps students develop competence in pursuing such inquiries generally and supports them in applying these intellectual skills to the advanced analysis of one or more related topics. Students attaining the certificate will be equipped to bring informed discussion of values into the public sphere and to integrate a critical value perspective into their future studies and pursuits. The program is open to undergraduates of all disciplines.

Admission to the Program

Admission to the program is restricted and selective, as overall numbers are limited. Students interested in applying to the program are advised to begin to consider their interests and a tentative course of study as early as possible, which they are encouraged to do in consultation with the program director.

Students will be considered for admission upon meeting the following prerequisites: submission of an essay describing the rationale for completing the certificate and plans for the junior and senior year; completion of at least one of the core courses (PHI 202, WWS 370, POL 307, POL 306, or POL 313) by the end of sophomore year with a grade of B+ or higher; a minimum GPA of 3.0 overall. A faculty committee of the University Center for Human Values will determine admission.

Students are eligible to apply only in the second semester of their sophomore year to enter the program as juniors, and must apply by a deadline announced each spring. For more information on the Program in Values and Public Life's application process and current deadlines, please visit the program's website.

Program of Study

To qualify for a program certificate, students are required to complete three core courses, two thematic courses, and independent work as described below. No course counted toward the certificate may be taken P/D/F.

Core Courses (3 courses):
Students must take one course out of each of the following three categories: (1) PHI 202 / CHV 202: Introduction to Moral Philosophy; (2) one of the following courses: WWS 370 / CHV 301 / POL 308: Ethics and Public Policy, POL 307 / CHV 307: The Just Society, POL 306 / CHV 306 / PHI 360: Democratic Theory, or POL 313 / CHV 313: Global Justice; (3) a Junior/Senior Seminar in Values and Public Life (topics change from year to year) or, if necessary, another seminar on normative issues approved by the program director.

Thematic Courses (2 courses):
Students must identify an area of focus and take two courses with an explicit values component related to it, chosen by the student in consultation with the program director. Some illustrative focus areas (or "themes") are:

Cognitive psychology, ethics, and public policy
Democracy in theory and practice
Global justice and human rights
Constitutionalism and the rule of law
History of thought about political justice, human rights, or some other core concept in public morality
Public dilemmas in literature
Ethics, religion, and theology

Independent Work

Students will write a senior thesis (or, in exceptional circumstances, another substantial piece of independent work) on a normative topic approved by both the director of the program and the student's department of concentration. Students will be expected to participate in a senior thesis colloquium convened by the program.

Note: no more than two of the courses used to satisfy the course requirements for the student's concentration may also be counted toward satisfaction of the course requirements for the Program in Values and Public Life certificate.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in values and public life studies upon graduation.