Yongzhi SeowWhat are you up to now?
I am employed in the teaching service with the Ministry of Education and
How has majoring in PPE prepared you for life?
preparing to head to the National Institute of Education to pursue a
post-graduate diploma in education.
The analytical, reasoning and quantitative toolkits are highly versatile and
What advantages do you think PPE majors have after graduation?
highly relevant to employment in sectors such as public policy, finance,
consulting, and research. In addition, PPE has granted me familiarity with a
wide-ranging set of important issue areas, which has shaped me as an
informed citizen and participant in my national polity. Using this concern
gleaned from my PPE classes, I’ve contributed a couple of pieces to the
opinion section of the national broadsheet.
The PPE major seeks to strike a balance between a ‘deep dive’ into a
What was your favourite part of the PPE major?
component discipline (philosophy, politics, or economics) which confers
important skills (reasoning, analysis, or quant); and a ‘broad view’ that
provides the scope for understanding many contemporary challenges which
reach across disciplines. To give an example: the environmental crisis is at
once a moral crisis (anthropocentrism – are human beings worth so much
more than the ecosystem that we can destroy it at will? Think The Land Ethic
1949 by Aldo Leopold); a question of policy and power (what are the
institutions and actors that shape collective decisions?); and a problem of
incentives facing rational actors (why is it that individuals and corporations,
as agents seeking to maximise their happiness or profit, will take actions that
damage the environment?). It is an issue-area that spans philosophy, politics,
and economics; no single discipline can give a satisfactory understanding or
response. So the PPE major equips its graduates with some skills to
understand and address such broad global issues, but also the breadth to
appreciate their scope.
Foundation-building in core gateway courses was crucial. Courses like
intermediate microeconomics (with Assoc Prof Rene Saran), intermediate
macroeconomics (with Prof John Driffill), comparative political economy (with
Prof Frances Rosenbluth at Yale), and the moral foundations of politics (with Prof Ian
Shapiro at Yale) were the building blocks that really made advanced courses
fruitful. PPE has the in-built ambition of reaching across three radically
different disciplines to train open-minded, globally-concerned graduates with
powerful analytical, reasoning, and quantitative toolkits. What’s not obvious is
that every student’s leap to the optimal outcome requires three separate,
sturdily-built ladders. My most meaningful experience, therefore, was in
building my foundational abilities in each of the three disciplines.