VPL Program Requirements

Students admitted to the program in Values and Public Life will be required to complete three core courses, two thematic courses, and complete independent work as described below.

Core Courses (3 courses):

Students must take one course out of each of the following three categories:

(1) PHI / CHV 202: Introduction to Moral Philosophy (generally offered in Fall);

(2) one of the following courses:

     CHV 301, Ethics and Public Policy
     CHV 360 / PHI 360, Democratic Theory
     CHV 313, Global Justice
     POL 301 / PHI 353 / CLA 301 / HIS 303, Political Theory, Athens to Augustine
     POL 210, Political Theory
     POL 302, Continental Political Thought

(3) a Junior/Senior Seminar in Values and Public Life (topics change from year to year) or, in an exceptional scenario (e.g., study abroad), another seminar on normative issues approved by the program director. 

For a list of Fall 2023 courses and VPL seminars, click here.

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:

  • Bioethics
  • 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 normal procedures of the student’s department of concentration. The thesis will be written in and according to the department regulations of the student’s concentration. Students will be expected to participate in a non-credit-bearing senior thesis colloquium convened by the program.

Note: No more than two courses used to satisfy the course requirements for the student’s concentration may also be counted toward satisfaction for the VPL course requirements. Courses counted toward the certificate/minor may not be taken P/D/F (waived for courses taken in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021).