Recommended Minors from EA at NYU:

This list includes some of the minors we’ve found at NYU that we think would be most useful for undergraduate students at NYU hoping to address some of the world’s most pressing problems. Much of the material is inspired by the career research of 80,000 Hours, but this list was created independently without their input.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we hope that its a good place to start. The full list of cross-school minors at NYU can be viewed here, and remember that you can of course mix and match classes from various departments based on the skills you want to develop, or even choose to major in one of these topics!

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EA Focus: Operations

Social Entrepreneurship (Wagner & Stern)
Entrepreneurship is possibly valuable for two reasons: if you are able to build a successful business and make a lot of money then it is valuable for earning to give; or you can work on directly solving major global issues through social entrepreneurship.
There are multiple efforts to start effective new nonprofits within EA, and having a strong background in what is needed to help a new business succeed will be very important to start a successful venture, whether for-profit or nonprofit.

Management (Tandon)
According to 80,000 Hours, “[Operations] positions seem especially in-demand right now, both within the core effective altruism organisations and the broader global catastrophic risk community. There are many open positions and organisation leaders often say this skill-set is their biggest bottleneck.”

EA Focus: Research

“To work on some important fields of research that are hard to fund commercially, academia is the natural place to go. A single outstanding researcher can move a field forward and make a significant contribution to solving key global problems. Beyond research, academics also have other avenues for impact, such as by influencing government policy, the priorities within their field, and the culture of society at large.”

Mathematics (CAS)
Quantitative skills are in high demand in research opportunities at EA organizations. Apart from research, strong foundations in math can also open up many high-earning positions such as quantitative trading, allowing you to earn to give.

Interdepartmental Research Studies/Applied Statistics (Steinhardt)
This is not a minor, but instead an interdepartmental listing of classes that help build research and statistical skills.

Philosophy (CAS Dept of Philosophy)
Helps to develop skills in reading and well-reasoned writing. Will be especially important for global priorities research, as much of it involves investigating questions of moral values we should hold, and how they impact the problems we should work on.

EA Focus: Policy

Public Health (Public Health)
Pandemics could potentially kill millions of people, and progress in synthetic biology is likely to increase the risk of pandemics occurring and their severity. Studying outbreak response and emerging diseases would allow you to work on biorisk reduction.

Bioethics (Public Health)
Like the Public Health minor, this would give you greater expertise in biorisk reduction. The bioethics minor also highlights courses which deal specifically with animal ethics and medical ethics.

Social and Public Policy (Wagner)
More work needs to be done in identifying differences in governmental and Effective Altruist goals and the factors shaping how governments act. While an obvious route to advocacy positions, this could also be an effective way to work in civil service or for think tanks.

Economics (CAS)
Macroeconomic decisions affect the outcomes of people worldwide, and catastrophic failures like the 2008 recession can destroy immense amounts of global utility. At a governmental level, increased and well-distributed economic prosperity in a country can have a stronger impact than direct philanthropic aid. Economists have also traditionally been disproportionately influential in shaping policy.

Peace and Conflict Studies (Steinhardt)
May be useful if considering working in diplomacy. It is also especially relevant for those who are interested in working on nuclear security and deterrence.

EA Focus: AI Risk

Computer Science and Mathematics (CAS)
Helpful to get a stronger technical grounding – while you won’t learn how to develop AI yourself it may help in understanding some of the basics. Could be a good choice if planning to pursue AI policy.

Economics (CAS)
From 80000 Hours: “When thinking carefully about the future of work, economics is essential. But there are also sources of insight in the broad economics literature that may bear on other AI policy issues, such as in industrial organization and game theory. In particular, game theory can be a useful lens for thinking about some of the coordination issues that may come into play with highly advanced AI.”

Science and Society (CAS)
From 80000 Hours: Relevant studies to work in AI policy include “science and technology studies, an empirical/conceptual field which seeks to foster disciplined thinking about the role of science and technology in society and the decision-making processes of scientists and engineers.”

EA Focus: Global Poverty

Poverty Studies (Silver)
To better understand the conditions of those in poverty, and what factors cause poverty to exist. Note that most of the classes are focused on domestic poverty in America – wherever possible you should instead try to take electives that focus on poverty in developing countries.

Peace and Conflict Studies (Steinhardt)
May better help in understanding how to aid those who are in conditions of extreme conflict, which often comes hand in hand with conditions of poverty.
May also help in determining how to avoid situations of conflict in the first place.

EA Focus: Animal Welfare

Bioethics (Public Health)
Reason to take minor:

Animal Studies (CAS Dept of Animal Studies)
This minor is one of the few ways to directly incorporate study of animals into your degree. Useful in understanding people’s relationships with animals, in order to reduce meat consumption, and in understanding animals themselves in order to improve their welfare.
In particular, highly relevant courses include Effective Animal Activism (graduate course option in ANST-GA 2500 Topics in Animal Studies – you will have to get permission to take it), and Introduction to Marine Ecology and Conservation (to more deeply understand fish, a currently ).

Philosophy (CAS Dept of Philosophy)
Useful in understanding the epistemic foundations behind our attitudes towards animals, and reasoning about what moral values we should hold and/or behaviors we should engage in concerning animals.

EA Focus: China Studies

80000 Hours states “China plays a crucial role in almost all of the major global problems we highlight… This all means it’s difficult to understand the scale and urgency of these problems without understanding the situation in China. What’s more, it’ll be difficult to solve any of these global problems without better coordination between Western groups and their Chinese equivalents.”

Chinese (CAS Dept of East Asian Studies)
From 80,000 Hours, “it often seems like there’s a lack of understanding and coordination between China and the West. For instance, even today, 3 times as many Americans study French as study Chinese. For this reason, we’d like to see more people (both Chinese and non-Chinese) develop a deep understanding of the intersection of effective altruism and China, and help to coordinate between the two countries.”
This could be a good fit for you if you have a humanities skillset and are interested in Chinese politics, economy, culture, and so on.

East Asian Civilization (CAS Dept of East Asian Studies)
As compared to the Chinese minor, taking the broader East Asian Civilization minor would give you a broader sense of interrelations between China and other countries within its sphere of influence. Like the Chinese minor, this could be a good fit for you if you have a humanities skillset and are interested in Chinese politics, economy, culture, and so on.