The Center for Values and Social Policy was founded in 1980 and is housed in the Department of Philosophy. The central objective of the Center for Values and Social Policy is to serve as a non-partisan, campus-wide resource for supporting research, teaching, and public outreach about normative issues that are closely connected to matters of social policy. This includes work in applied normative philosophy, broadly construed to include work in applied moral, social, political and legal philosophy as well as related philosophical work that takes place at a more theoretical level. It also includes related work that is carried out in other disciplines, such as law, political science, economics and sociology, when that work has a strongly normative component and a clear connection to matters of social policy.

The primary goals of the Center are: supporting scholarly research in applied normative philosophy and related fields that is relevant to the study of values and social policy; supporting the teaching of issues in these areas at both the undergraduate and graduate level; supporting forms of outreach that make discussions in these areas available and accessible to members of the general public; facilitating collaboration among scholars across the campus who have common interests in the study of issues involving values and social policy.