Welcome to EHPP - Ethics, History, & Public Policy - Carnegie Mellon University

Welcome to Ethics, History & Public Policy

In many ways EHPP is a quintessentially Carnegie Mellon degree program that cannot be found at any other university in the country. To begin with, it is a highly interdisciplinary program that is jointly administered by the History Department and Philosophy Department. The program focuses equally on the historical understanding of how modern-day problems have evolved, and the importance of developing clear criteria for ethical decision-making.

Further, in addition to providing a solid liberal arts background, it encourages the development of a broad technical skill set that will benefit students in whatever career they ultimately choose to pursue EHPP majors learn how to: analyze and construct arguments; evaluate evidentiary statements; persuade people to agree with their particular claims; conduct research under time and resource constraints; and craft policies that address real world problems in a way that is sensitive both to history and competing sets of values.  I challenge anyone visiting this site to name a profession, vocation, or academic discipline in which these skills are irrelevant. If you do, I will buy you lunch with my own money!

History and Unique Features of the Major

EHPP is not a new major per se—indeed it has existed since the early 1990s. That said, it underwent significant changes in Spring 2009. Most importantly, the History Department and the Philosophy Department have taken equal ownership over the major. In the past, EHPP was administered primarily by the Philosophy Department and the History Department ran a separate major called “History and Policy.” Essentially what we have done is combine the two majors into one unified program. This means that the two departments can more efficiently support students with an interest in policy-related topics, and that students can be assured they are getting a truly holistic education.

The second important change is that we have overhauled the core of the curriculum to make it both more standardized and even more rigorous than it was before. This seeks to provide EHPP majors with a common knowledge-base and skill-set over the course of their academic careers.

Third, we have added a capstone project course to the major in which students have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained over the course of their time in EHPP to a contemporary policy problem such as: how to mitigate the effects the economic crisis we are currently living though; how to effectively deal with climate change in a way that takes into account the needs of both wealthier and poorer countries; and how to fix the health care system in a way that is both morally just and economically sensible. The capstone course was a mainstay of the History and Policy major for nearly two decades, so we know it works well.  Please let me know if you have any good topics in mind.

Finally, we are working hard to create a true sense of community among EHPP majors, both to foster a support system at Carnegie Mellon and also to build a social network the connects current students with program alumni. The end-goal is to enable current students to seek advice from those who came before them, provide opportunities for alumni to reinvest in the program in various ways, and also to connect job and internship seekers at Carnegie Mellon with organizations and agencies that know the value of the EHPP degree.