political economy & political science

Examine the causes of social inequality. Explore connections between politics, economics, and popular culture. Develop an historically-grounded global perspective. Envision alternative economic systems and study the history of movements for change.

Thomas Herndon speaks in the CCAM television studio

Evergreen alumnus Thomas Herndon is interviewed by Professor Emeritus of Political Economy Alan Nasser in the CCAM studio. Herndon made headlines when he found errors in the data set used by pro-austerity Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

Political economy is an interdisciplinary field combining economics, history, politics, sociology, and philosophy. It asks who has what, who does what kinds of work, how did it get to be that way, and how it could be different. Political science deals with systems of government, and the analysis of political activity and behavior. While there is overlap, political economists focus on economic processes, their relation to power and public policy, and their influence on people's lives and social institutions while political scientists focus on the study of governments and how they work.

Tomorrow Today program

Students learn the process of planning and pitching ideas for short films in the program Tomorrow Today: Political Economy and Culture of the Future.

At Evergreen, you can study the history of empires past and present in structuring the global economy. You can examine food systems and agriculture in the U.S. and internationally. You can look at the role mass media plays in our social relationships.

You can analyze the relation between capitalism and race, gender and class inequalities, and how these inequalities can be changed by creating liberatory alternatives to capitalism. 

You can learn how social change has occurred in the past so you can join with others as more effective agents of change. You can apply your learning through internships and research. Finally, you can explore alternative visions for economies and societies that promote justice and environmental sustainability.

Join us in an education that doesn’t just change your life — it gives you the tools to change the world.

Sample Program

Political Economy and Social Movements

Offered Fall 2017–Winter 2018

What do we need to know in order to understand the fundamental economic, political, and social forces that shape our world, and how can we participate effectively in shaping those forces?

Northwest Developments program

In the program Northwest Developments: Land Use, Economics and the Politics of Growth, students enact a mock city council meeting to discuss a fictional development project in Seattle.

This program is the primary gateway to the study of political economy at Evergreen. It introduces students to the building blocks of political-economic analysis: the history and institutions of capitalism, mainstream and alternative economic frameworks, theories of democracy, and theories of social change. We add to this a study of social movements in the past and present, looking at persuasive goals in relation to economic and political conditions, and learning about methods of influencing public attitudes and institutional policies

Reslient Communities program

Students will expand their capacity to engage in public debate and social-justice organizing by building skills in democratic decision-making, critical thinking, economic analysis, writing, researching, public speaking, media production, and quantitative methods.

View this program in the catalog.

Planned offerings for 2017–18

After Graduation

Thomas Herndon

Thomas Herndon '07  weakened the case for austerity policies worldwide by successfully challenging the influential work of two Harvard economists. Economists, news outlets, and political groups across the U.S. and around the world cited his work, landing Herndon an appearance on the Colbert Report. He is a graduate student in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Popular Uprisings program

The program Popular Uprisings: 1968, 2011 and the Road Forward combines political and economic studies with sociology and history. Faculty Elizabeth Williamson holds seminar on the roof of Sem II with a group of students in the program.

The skills in analysis, research, and writing developed through the study of political economy and political science are key preparation for work, future study, and meaningful participation in society.

Many graduates have continued their education by earning advanced degrees in political economy, political science, economics, history, sociology, law, public policy, and related disciplines.

And Evergreen graduates with a political economy or political science background have gone on to careers in areas such as international relations, economics, journalism, teaching, labor and community organizing, human rights and global justice, social work, public policy, law, and public health.

Facilities & Resources

The Library

An intellectual hub on campus with study spaces and more than 400,000 items to support your research, including article databases, books, periodicals, films, games, and more. Faculty librarians provide research assistance. You also have access to materials from libraries in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Learn more about the library.

Center for Community-Based Learning and Action

CCBLA links you with community organizations working on a wide range of issues. Services include a bulletin board with current opportunities for community involvement, a reference library on key approaches to community work including grantwriting, ethnography, community organizing, and information about Students In Service, an Americorps program that rewards students performing community service with tuition awards.

Gateways for Incarcerated Youth

Serve as an academic mentor and coach while Evergreen faculty lead seminars at juvenile correctional facilities. Gateways provides the individualized approach needed to reengage incarcerated youth in learning and community. Our focus on culture — helping all students learn their own and respecting others — is critical to breaking the cycle of incarceration, violence, and recidivism.