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Graduate Study in Political Economy

The Wallis Institute supports graduate training in political economy for students in the Department of Economics and the Department of Political Science. Prospective students who seek to specialize in this area should apply to the PhD program in one of those two departments. Students admitted to the economics or political science program are subject to the requirements of their program, and they may choose to take advanced graduate seminars in political economy. The Wallis Institute provides a two-course sequence in political economy taught by faculty from the parent departments. Students in economics may take the sequence and write a qualifying exam to fulfill the requirements for the political economy field; and students in political science may take the sequence as part of the requirements for the formal political theory field.

In addition to course offerings, the Wallis Institute runs a seminar series that allows Rochester faculty and students to present their work, and it brings in top researchers across the field from other departments. The Institute sponsors post-docs and other visitors and encourages interaction with graduate students. Finally, students are invited to attend an annual conference organized by the Institute that continues to serve as a focal point of the political economy field.

The first course in the political economy sequence typically emphasizes foundational theory, and especially connections to the theory of social choice. The goal of the course is to give students in political economy a firm theoretical grounding for their work. The second course may cover a range of topics from elections to legislative policy and makes use of methods from formal modeling, computational analysis, or empirical analysis.

575. Political Economy I
Same as PSC 575, ECO 575.

The course takes up foundational topics in theoretical political economy. It begins with the analysis of fundamental concepts of preference and choice used throughout the course. The course then covers the main results in social choice theory, where collective decisions are viewed as the product of an abstract process of preference aggregation. Results covered include Arrow’s impossibility theorem and Black’s median voter theorem. The course then moves to the game-theoretic analysis of elections, voting, and legislative bargaining, with a special focus on connections to social choice theory. Content of the course may vary with the instructor.

582. Political Economy II
Same as PSC 582, ECO 582.
Prerequisite: PEC 575 is recommended (but not required).

The course builds on the theoretical foundations of Political Economy I and delves into the topics of elections, voting, and legislative policy making. Specialized topics may include candidate motivations, strategic voting, lobbying, and taxation, among others. The methodological focus of the course may range from formal modeling to computational analysis to empirical methods. Content of the course may vary with the instructor.