Making a difference starts with a different kind of thinking. PPE invites students to ask tough questions, think together openly and critically, and engage with the world through research and discussion. You will learn about government policy, economic organization, and social justice as you encounter the processes, systems, institutions, and values that shape our societies. This stream is loosely modelled on a successful undergraduate program at the University of Oxford.
PPE is organized around ideas that are fundamental to understanding the social world. Critical thinking and a multi-disciplinary approach are emphasized when considering issues like government policy, economic organization, social ills, relativism and universal values, and transnational and social justice. Students will develop theoretical and practical skills associated with scholarly research and discussion in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Loosely modeled on a successful undergraduate program at the University of Oxford, this stream engages students via four disciplinary perspectives: Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, and English. Though the focus is aimed primarily at the Canadian context, courses in this stream will also consider global scenarios, and students are encouraged to apply broadly the knowledge they gain in PPE.
This stream may be of particular interest to students who plan on majoring in Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, Commerce, and International Relations.
“The CAP program provided an excellent transition from high school to university and provided me with a “skills toolkit” to succeed at UBC. In particular, my ASTU class with Dr. McNeill prepared me to tackle academic writing and research. I learned how to ask effective questions and the critical thinking skills I gained I was able to apply in all my research papers.”
—Camille de Gracia, Political Science major
Click here for more student testimonials.
All course descriptions and information are subject to change.
In your first term, you will enroll in Arts Studies, Economics, and Political Science. In your Arts Studies class, you will study how politics, economics, and philosophy intersect, as well as learn about the features of academic writing in a scholarly setting. Your introduction to politics class will set the foundation for your understanding of politics in future political science and other related courses. The study of microeconomics will also introduce you to the economic theories behind the fundamental relationship of demand and supply in our economy.
Arts Studies (ASTU) 101 Seminar
(3 credits/1 term) – First Year CAP Seminar: Focuses on academic reading, writing, and research. This course provides an interdisciplinary foundation for academic writing and related research communicative practices within an interactive learning environment.
Students will choose one out of five different sections (P01/P02/P03/P04/P05), based on their scheduling needs and academic interests.
- ASTU 101 Section P01 - Title TBA
Instructor: Anne Stewart
Email address: email@example.com
This course is an introduction to academic writing through the debates, arguments, and rhetorical contests that unfold on and around our city streets. The street is simultaneously a site of public discourse and a space that writers use to interpret and discuss the struggles of city life and civic participation. In the weeks to come, we will focus on the city street as both a site of rhetorical action (a place where people go to speak and be heard) and a rhetorical tool (a space that is employed as a trope, a symbol, and a strategic perspective for a variety of arguments). We will discuss, research, and attempt to define the political and philosophical positions surrounding debates that take place in and around the city street. As we develop a vocabulary and a background for understanding how the street functions as a site of public debate, we will consider the different multimodal mediums (street art, music, film, architecture, etc.) in which the city street is taken up as a rhetorical device. Drawing on academic writing from the humanities and the social sciences, we will develop research projects that respond to the city streets of our present and imagine how the streets of the future might operate.
- ASTU 101 Section P02 - Title TBA
Instructor: Evan Mauro
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
This first-term course introduces students to the conventions and uses of academic writing and research, focusing on a core topic in the humanities and social sciences. For this class, our topic will be “Work in Research and Culture.” As a research area, work has a long, multidisciplinary history, and we will encounter as much of that as we fit into one semester. The changing nature of work is a perennial concern in media and culture, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has complicated many people’s relationships to it: unemployment rates reached historic highs, whole sectors have been restructured, remote work has transformed many people’s lives, “essential” labour has been redefined and often coerced, and workplace activism has been on the rise. This course will take an intersectional approach to labour history, exploring how changing regimes of work speak to issues of sex/gender, colonialism, migration, and political economy. While encountering these key areas of research about work, students will develop their own research projects, learning how to locate, evaluate, and critique academic arguments, and how to respond to them in their own scholarly research and writing.
- ASTU 101 Section P03 - Crisis & Technology
Instructor: Dr. Erin Goheen Glanville
Email address: Erin.Goheen.Glanville@ubc.ca
ASTU101 introduces students to the academic skills of reading, writing, and research at a university level. Students will complete a literature review, annotated bibliography, research proposal, and final paper on a topic of their choice related to the course’s theme.
Migration and climate crises are both material and discursive phenomena. The theme of this section is the relationship between these interconnected global crises and technological progress. We will think about the way global migration and environmental crises are being discussed publicly and in different disciplines. Students are also invited to consider our own relationship to these crises. We will read material that explores questions such as: what is accomplished philosophically and politically by using the term ‘crisis’ in relation to migration and the environment? How do economics drive global crises and how are economics shaped by global crises? How do specific technologies ameliorate or exacerbate the damage of human displacement and climate change? This course takes a community-engaged learning approach, hosting guest speakers who work in various industries, such as electric vehicles, virtual reality, and journalism, to speak about the relationship between technology and global crises. Students will be invited to choose a crisis and a technology to explore for their final paper. They will take courses in philosophy, economics, and political science alongside ASTU101 and write a paper that contributes to one of these scholarly conversations.
- ASTU 101 Section P04 - The Cultures of Platform Capitalism
Instructor: Dr. Kasim Husain
Email address: email@example.com
When you last updated an app, created a profile in order to make a purchase online, or even posted on a social media site, you probably knew that somewhere, somehow, that data would be used to profile you, often with the aim of selling you something. How much did that one tiny data point matter, given the volume of data collected by the platforms that dominate the internet today? Shouldn’t we just chalk such transactions up to the price of existence online? This course will help us think through what the value of our digital footprints might be, to understand the people and institutions that are the gatekeepers of our increasingly online lives, and how they assign our data value. We will begin thinking about how platform capitalism is linked to the economic concept of monopoly rent, in which a special quality or property confers a unique form of value. We will examine how platforms seek rent on many forms of data; everything from the formula that makes for a hit book to period tracking apps and the DNA of Indigenous people; we will even consider the nightmarish vision of a platform capitalist future as depicted in the recent Netflix hit Squid Game.
In ASTU 101, we will learn how to read and write in academic research genres, by seeing how scholars from different fields are responding to the rise of platform capitalism and its effects on culture and society. You will learn how to practice university-level research, and become familiar with all the elements of writing a paper based on this research. In this course, this will mean that you develop an original response to the scholarly debate on platform capitalism. More broadly, these skills will prepare you for the many situations in university and beyond where you need to do advanced research and represent your contributions in written form.
Economics (ECON) 101 - Principles of Microeconomics
(3 credits/1 term)
Instructors: Cheryl Fu
Email addresses: Cheryl.Fu@ubc.ca
Sample outline from Dr. Chowdhury Shameen Mahmoud:
Principles of Microeconomics: Elements of theory and of Canadian policy and institutions concerning the economics of markets and market behaviour, prices and costs, exchange and trade, competition and monopoly, distribution of income.
Individuals, firms, and societies have only limited resources. For example, individuals have only so much time, firms have only so many workers, and societies have only so much land. Microeconomics is the study of how decision makers---individuals, firms, and societies---do use and should use their limited resources.
More specifically, this course examines how market prices help allocate society’s scarce resources and what determines those prices; how consumers and firms make decisions and interact in markets; how firms decide what types and quantities of goods services to produce; how various government policies affect market outcomes and social welfare; and how economists view some of the problems caused by pollution, public goods, and common property resources. This course also tries to answer many important questions like: Is a market system a good way of organizing economic activity and allocating society’s scarce resources? What is the best way for the government to raise the tax revenue? Does increasing the minimum wage make sense? Should municipal governments use rent controls to keep housing affordable? How does international trade affect the well-being of Canadians and their trading partners?
This introductory course will also introduce you to “the economic way of thinking”, a general framework that will not only help you better understand the world around you but will also help you make better decisions in both your personal life and your professional career.
Political Science (POLI) 100 - Introduction to Politics
(3 credits/ 1 term)
Instructor: Joëlle Alice Michaud-Ouellet
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Political Science 100 will introduce you to key concepts, ideas, and challenges of politics. The course is meant to provide you with the research and analytical skills necessary to pursue studies in political science at UBC and enhance your participation in the various communities of governance in which you are involved. The course consists of a combination of lectures, group discussions and readings. Each week, you will be required to attend three one-hour lectures and a one-hour tutorial session.
One recurring theme in the course is how relations of power and aspirations to freedom and justice influence the ways in which political communities are governed. The meaning of justice and freedom are not predetermined; these notions mean different things for different people and contexts, which leads to conflicts and struggles that involve recourse to power. Important subthemes in the course are legitimacy, sovereignty, ideology, and rights. A special attention will be given to the State as a pillar of modern politics. We will study its interactions with citizens and alternative political communities such as Indigenous communities, identity groups, social movements, and the global community.
In your second term, you will enroll in Philosophy, Economics, and Political Science. An introduction to philosophy will develop your critical thinking and logical reasoning, as well as establish the most well-known philosophies behind issues such as morality, ethics, and justice. Moving from microeconomics to macroeconomics, you will study economic frameworks that we use to make sense of economics at a larger societal or national level. You will also learn to apply the concepts learnt in the first term to the context of Canadian politics.
Philosophy (PHIL) 102 - Introduction to Philosophy
(3 credits/1 term)
Instructor: Irwin Chan
Email address: email@example.com
In a sense, this course is not so much about moral philosophy as about your lives. Through introducing a number of value and moral theories, this course aims to develop your ethical thinking skills; that is, the ability to identify ethically relevant considerations, to take into account the interests of all stakeholders, and to make ethically-informed decisions in your lives. The topics discussed in this course will also give you opportunities to think critically about issues that concern your lives and to use your own live experiences to critique moral philosophy.
Moreover, this course also aims to prepare you for upper-year philosophy courses by developing your reading and writing skills.
Economics (ECON) 102 - Principles of Macroeconomics
(3 credits/1 term)
Instructor: Cheryl Fu
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Principles of Macroeconomics: Elements of theory and of Canadian policy and institutions concerning the economics of growth and business cycles, national income accounting, interest and exchange rates, money and banking, the balance of trade.
Macroeconomics deals with important questions like: Why are some countries rich while others are poor? What is economic growth and why do different countries grow at different rates? Why is the government so concerned about controlling inflation? What determines the unemployment rate and how is it measured? Why do economies experience cycles of booms and busts rather than a steady increase in the level of economic activity? What are monetary and fiscal policies and how does the government use these policies to influence economic activity?
This course will give you some basic frameworks for thinking about questions like these and many more. It will also help develop your skills of economic analysis and critical thinking. By the end of the course, you’ll have gained some insight into how an economy functions and into some of the policy issues that are the subject of serious debate.
Political Science (POLI) 101 The Government of Canada
(3 credits/1 term)
Instructor: Kenny Ie
Email address: email@example.com
How does government in Canada work? How democratic is our system? Are Canadians effectively represented? We will explore these important questions in this introduction to the Canadian political system. The course examines the basic ideas on which the system is founded, the institutions that structure politics, and the actors who work within these institutions. We will emphasize the constitutional framework of Canadian government and the role of the judiciary and the Charter of Rights in shaping the country. We will also engage issues at the forefront of politics in Canada, such as Indigenous rights and gender politics. Students should be equipped to better understand the Canadian political system and engage in our democracy as active citizens and participants.
Please note that you will only register in one ASTU 101 seminar, and one POLI 100 and ECON 101 discussion section. This timetable is subject to change.
Please note that you will only register in one POLI 101 and ECON 102 discussion section. This timetable is subject to change.
Article Review: Students are given a choice of topics on which to write a short paper. They are asked to choose one article that they will use for the short paper and write a separate article review on it. This assignment is designed to aid the student in choosing appropriate materials for research papers, understand the key arguments from the material, and succinctly communicating that argument.
Literature Review: Students choose a research topic (based on the focus of their section of ASTU 101), and then write a scholarly literature review. Students learn to identify major abstractions (or concepts), find appropriate secondary sources using the library databases, place academics in discussion with one another, and take a position within this conversation.