Drifting to the centre: a social sciences perspective

The scientific method follows some very simple steps: the observation, formulation of a hypothesis, and the testing of the hypothesis. We must then aim to explain what we find, and why it must happen.

In first year, in the small cramped common room we once had, I remember drawing up a political compass on the whiteboard in which I managed to observe that the majority of my peers were fairly evenly distributed across the left-right spectrum, with an almost radius of exemption around the absolute centre. It was later suggested by some third years, at the time, that PPE makes you shift closer to the centre. This soon became a hypothesis that needed to be answers. So, later in my third, and final year, I tested the hypothesis by drawing the same compass on the new common room’s whiteboard, and I saw that many of my peers had now gravitated more to the centre, than they once were. One must wonder whether drifting to the centre of the compass is the true legacy of studying PPE, at the University of Warwick?

As with all good social scientists we must now look to explain this result. The studying of three disciplines, at a high intensity and level, is surely to be one of the main reasons for this. Understanding the world in a holistic world, helps reduce any preconceptions that we would have once held before studying at university, and to discover areas and angles of analysis, that would never have previously entered our minds. Or in PO107 terms: the shifting of our ‘Overton Window’. Although it is important to note that much of the content that is taught is viewing the world through an academic’s perspective, and without the ability, or desire to read further has helped to counterbalance some of this, to give a more balanced picture. This thirst for knowledge, or curiosity, is the golden thread which connects every single PPE student.

It is this thirst for knowledge which facilitates the free exchange of ideas and inspirations within the PPE community, among some of the finest minds of our generation, can convince one and another, within the common room setting of their way of thinking. Liberty to hold a marketplace of ideas, almost daily, facilitated by the institution that is the common room which could act as the catalyst. But furthermore, PPE is a truly international degree at Warwick, with around half of the cohort coming from overseas, meaning that new, fresh interjections break the usual circular vacuum that such discussions tend to create.

Whilst my personal drift has been much smaller, than some of my peers, it is still a significant factor on which I can recall. I have become a lot more open to discuss and accept the arguments of others than I once was, and this inevitably has impacts outside of the PPE bubble. Employability, not just within the infamous investment banks, inevitably increases with such transferable skills, but also the fact that we are able enough to achieve such a prestigious degree, from a university that is worthy of all the great people that we have on this course. My three years here at Warwick have been among the best and most challenging years of my life, but I would not change

them for the world. I will be leaving university as a different person. Someone who has grown in more ways than one, and a more well-rounded individual than beforehand. And someone that acknowledges that those third years, who advised me when I was a fresher, were correct. That PPE is a community, which provides you with the best friends of your life. It is not just as someone who has marginally gravitated more towards the ‘centre’.

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