VPL Minor Program Requirements

Students admitted to the Minor in Values and Public Life will be required to complete three core courses, two thematic courses, and 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;

(2) One political theory course, chosen from the following list (not all courses are offered every year):     
     POL 210, Political Theory  
     SPI 370/POL 308/CHV 301, Ethics and Public Policy 
     POL 301/CLA 301/HLS 303/PHI 353, Political Theory, Athens to Augustine  
     POL 302, Continental Political Thought
     POL 303, Modern Political Theory
     POL 305, Radical Political Thought
     POL 306/PHI 360/CHV 306, Democratic Theory
     POL 307/CHV 307, The Just Society
     POL 309/REL 309, Politics and Religion
     POL 313/CHV 313, Global Justice   

(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 2024 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
  • Poverty, Incarceration, and Freedom
  • Race, Social Justice, and Public Life
  • Gender and Leadership
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Cognitive Psychology, Ethics, and Public Policy
  • Democracy in Theory and Practice
  • Global Justice and Human Rights
  • Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law
  • History and Theory of Human Rights
  • 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 of the course requirements for the minor. Courses counted toward the minor may not be taken P/D/F.