Political Economy

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Traditionally, the study of politics and economics was combined. Adam Smith, John Locke, Karl Marx, and other modern thinkers referred to themselves as political economists: individuals who understood the intricate relationship between politics and economics. However, in the past century universities began dividing the study of politics and economics into separate disciplines, as if they operated independently from each other.  The College of Idaho recognizes that a useful understanding of politics and economics demands a deep appreciation of how both relate, overlap, and influence society together. 

Why Study Political Economy at The College of Idaho?

The Department of Political Economy offers two majors through the PEAK curriculum: Political Economy and International Political Economy. The Department of Political Economy also offers a Political Economy minor, supports academic specializations in Pre-Law and Asian Studies, and directs the College’s Model UN program and Mock Supreme Court experience.

Students who pursue the Political Economy major are challenged to understand and analyze human society, reassess personal values regarding economic and political issues, and gain an understanding of economic and political principles within a broad domestic and global societal context. Course curriculum and opportunities emphasize an understanding of major political philosophies, economic theories, public policies, and questions of justice.  With respect to skill development, students learn to express complex and personally-developed political and economic positions both orally and in writing, as well as to develop analytical and methodological proficiency to conduct research into issues of economic and political interest. International Political Economy majors focus on global politics, international trade and finance, development, and transnational issues and challenges. Applying social science concepts, theories, and analytical tools, students assess policies and alternatives that seek to improve states, markets, and society generally. Students with international ambitions are encouraged, but not required, to participate in College offerings in foreign languages, study abroad, and Model UN.     

The department has a 3+3 BA/JD cooperative program with the University of Idaho whereby students can complete a Bachelor of Arts from The College of Idaho and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Idaho. Students pursuing any major are eligible to explore this opportunity. See the Cooperative Programs section for specific requirements.

Career Opportunities for Political Economy Students

Our Political Economy major is designed for students primarily interested in domestic politics, law, economics, and careers in government or private sector administration. The International Political Economy major is designed for students whose primary interests lie in the study of international politics, international economics, and pursuing opportunities abroad. Numerous College of Idaho alumni have gone on to successful careers in government service and have been elected to local, state, and national office, including two governors of Idaho and a governor of Oregon. Public administration, public policy, humanitarian and non-profit work, writing, journalism, education, and area studies are possible career choices for political economy students.