What Political Economy is, and why I do it

When I first got to Berkeley, I was lost but unaware of it. I had applied to the university intending to major in Economics at the advisement of the AP Economics teacher I was a TA for in my junior year of high school. Fresh into college, I had forty units worth of AP credit, four units worth of college credit, and the feeling that I needed to stick to what I knew and continue on the path that life seemed to be leading me on.

However, during my orientation weekend, I heard of the Political Economy major and it threw me off. The idea of it seemed so much closer to what I thought I was passionate about, but I didn’t know much about the subject. I wasn’t even sure what I felt passionate about to begin with. As I started enrolling for my freshman year classes, I was overwhelmed by how many different pathways there were. I decided it would be fine for me to explore a little bit more and see what I was interested in. That decision would end up being the beginning of a newfound direction for my life.

Discovering the theories of political economy was the same as discovering myself. I think that not knowing what you want to do with your life is one of the greatest difficulties of being young. The years ahead seem so full of potential that all the biggest actions and seemingly insignificant choices become heavy burdens. I’ve learned that the best way of dealing with these burdens is just to let go and wander until you find the right path. It was a mistake to consider pursuing economics simply because I was told I should or for the sake of actually having known about the subject before university. I still enjoy the subject and am extremely interested in it. However, learning about political economy has taken those interests and transformed them into something I’m legitimately passionate about: philosophy, reading, analyzing, theorizing, writing, applying, understanding. I’m not focusing on taking some data and coming to conclusions about it in an economic sense. I’m studying in order to understand the world and my place in it. Political economy taking information, coming up with a policy, and seeing how it plays out. It’s the economy, the government, civil society, and me.

I know that I’m on the right path because for the first time ever I am surrounded by individuals that feel the same way as me. I know this is seems like a naïve sentiment, but the ideas that I learn about make me want to get up in the morning and change my world. IAS 45 was one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken in my life and POLECON 100 provided some of my best friends ever. I’m beyond excited to talk to people about how I major in Political Economy and how “Public Policy in Urban Development and the Economics of Globalization” is my very own concentration. I’ve never been so ready to share my passion with the rest of the world and pursue something wholeheartedly.