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Two Students Attended PPE Undergraduate Society Colloquium

Mount St. Mary's University seniors Sharon Pham and Angela Sampson participated in the fifth annual National PPE Undergraduate Colloquium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in late March. The students engaged in intense discussion of advance reading material regarding corruption as viewed through philosophy, politics and economics (PPE).

The colloquium sought to engage students in intense discussion and debate about topics from the readings centered around the program's theme of corrupton. The event created an open and comfortable environment where people of all backgrounds were able to express their ideas and work toward understanding and alignment with other beliefs. Opposition and disagreements were encouraged, and any type of questioning and rebuttal points were welcomed, respected and further discussed to create more learning experiences for all. In this environment, the minority opinion was appreciated and challenged the majority beliefs and ways of thinking.  

“I have never been involved with such a group of people were all opinions, whether or not they are popular, are accepted and people actually want to understand why others think the way they do," reflected Sharon Pham. "The discussions really challenged me to think a little more different – and possibly more thoroughly. So, I had to make sure that any arguments I made were well thought out and presented in a concise and persuasive matter.” 

One of the topics covered was the ethics behind pharmaceutical companies working with large institutions like the FDA. The discussion focused on the question: Should pharmaceutical companies distribute molecularly similar drugs that have similar effects? Even though the pharmaceutical companies would want the general public to have accessible medicine that caters to individual allergies and restrictions, the question opened up dialogue about the pharmaceutical companies underlying drive to maximize profits from philosophical, political and economic perspectives. 

Although she is an economics and French major, Pham was nominated to attend because of her SPARC presentation related to the connection between physics and economics. Her project aligned directly with what PPE programs strive to cover, by relating interdisciplinary studies and making them connected as one.

“The Mount’s PPE program is one that pairs well with the Mount’s core curriculum. Even though I am not a PPE student, I believe that the Mount’s core curriculum prepared me to discuss the topics at hand thoroughly and competently,” Pham said. “During the conference, I found myself thinking about my personal values and beliefs. It was honestly the best time to reflect and solidify my own morals and values.” 

After graduation Pham plans to work and travel before furthering her education within the next year.  

For more information about the PPE Society Colloquium, contact Dr. Amanda Beal (abeal@msmary.edu).