The Philosophy, Politics & the Public Program brings together many of Xavier’s traditional curricular strengths in an innovative and rigorous undergraduate honors program of study focusing on the unifying concept of “the public sphere” in democratic societies. The program is inspired by the Philosophy, Politics & Economics programs commonly found in the British university system, but differs from them by placing greater emphasis upon philosophical conceptions and historical context. The approach taken by this honors program is expressed in the meanings of the several conceptions identified in its very name. In its original meaning, philosophy denotes “the love of wisdom.” Aristotle, one of the greatest and most influential philosophers of the western tradition, defined politics as “the master science of the good.” “The public” represents a multi-dimensional domain of shared consciousness, ideals and action. Through course work that is both multi-disciplinary as well as centered in a particular disciplinary concentration, students are encouraged to follow their own interests in the theoretical engagement of the public in its many embodiments and meanings. In addition, the theoretical work in the program is complemented by engagement in the active world of politics through working on political campaigns, lobbying of behalf of legislation, internships in local and national government offices and summer study in Paris that includes a seminar in Brussels, the seat of the European Union. The program is highly selective, with 15 to 20 freshman students enrolling each fall.
The Philosophy, Politics & the Public Core Sequence
The program finds its center in two main areas. Students take the core interdisciplinary course sequence during sophomore and junior year. The sophomore year sequence brings together faculty from history and political science. Its focus is on America’s civic culture in its growth and development, with special emphasis upon electoral and legislative politics. The junior year sequence is primarily philosophical and centers upon the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment culminating in the French Revolution as a primary shaper of both modern democratic institutions as well as modern conceptions of “the public.” The course will culminate with the students traveling to Paris and Brussels to meet with French specialists and students who are likewise investigating the changing contours of the modern Western democracies that this revolution had so profoundly affected. Details of these sequences appear below.
The Philosophy, Politics & the Public Elective Concentration
Together with the Constructing the Public sequence, the Elective Concentration forms the heart of the individual student’s PPP program. Students are encouraged to choose an Elective Concentration in a discipline that most closely fits their own academic interest in “the public.” In this way, the Elective Concentration provides the conceptual center of the PPP student’s course of study, supplying the dominant framework from which he or she investigates the complex content of “the public.” There are a total of 18 hours of available electives in the PPP honors program. Students may choose an Interdisciplinary minor or one that is departmentally based. Some examples are:
- Philosophy, Politics & the Public combined with an Interdisciplinary Minor such as
- Gender & Diversity
- International Studies
- Latin American Studies
- Peace Studies
- Catholicism & Culture
- Philosophy, Politics & the Public combined with a Discipline-based Minor such as
- International Studies
- Political Science
The Senior Capstone Research Thesis
In the senior year, all PPP students will submit a research thesis for public defense. This thesis will be multidisciplinary in content and will address issues concerning the public that flow from the student’s own elective concentration.
Additional Course Requirements in the Program
In addition to these required core and elective courses, students in Philosophy, Politics and the Public must complete either a full minor in a foreign language or complete two languages through intermediate proficiency, one additional course from a history survey of the student’s choice, and two courses in economics.