What are you going to do with that?
Believe it or not, people ask me what I am going to do with my seemingly random academic pursuits on almost a daily basis. Officially, I am a Government major with Philosophy and Environmental Studies minors, on the Pre-Law track. However, I find that this simple explanation tells you nothing about what I am interested in specifically, what stimulates me academically, the sorts of classes I take, or what I want to do after I graduate. While I have a hard time putting it into words myself, I'm going to try to explain exactly what it is I do here with respect to academics and how I came to settle into this awesome course of study.
First of all, let's start off with a common misconception; I had no idea what I wanted to study when I came to Dartmouth. On my application I indicated that I was interested in Biomedical Engineering, nothing even close to what I study now. Having never taken a Biology or Engineering class, I couldn't tell you if those departments are great or not (I imagine they probably are) but I can tell you that I fell in love with government during my first class here at Dartmouth. I took a class called "Political Ideas" which fell under the Political Theory concentration in Government. The class took us on a journey through the classics of political philosophy. From Socrates to St. Augustine, we learned about how states were formed and how philosophy translated into different governmental systems. While most of my classes fall under the Political Theory" category, I have taken classes on Women in Politics, Middle Eastern state formation, and the importance and prevalence of Fake News in our modern political conversations. I tend to like classes with a heavy dose of philosophy and theory, which leads me to my first minor, Philosophy!
More than anything else, Philosophy has taught me how to be a more well-rounded learner in every subject. The procedure and rational thinking that goes into analyzing ancient Greek Philosophy on the immortality of the soul or modern phenomenology is so interesting and develops skills that have made me a better student. I have taken classes that question whether or not we really value life, how we think about gender, and the basics of ancient philosophy that color most of the ways we think about the world today. Philosophy classes tend to be some of the most interesting courses I take, but also some of the most difficult. There are days I leave class and have no idea what I think about anything and days I leave class and feel as though I have unlocked the key to the human purpose. Yeah, it's pretty cool.
You know what else is pretty cool? Looking at the use and development of natural resources in the Global South and debating whether or not these countries should use non-renewable resources as a basis for development. That was the topic of just one of the classes I have taken in the Environmental Studies department, which allows students a highly customizable class schedule. While some students focus on ecology and the science of the environment, I have chosen to take classes on natural resource management, environmental law, and national and international food systems. I usually characterize this as the minor that ties everything together; I can look at the philosophy of how governments form environmental policy while engaging all of my primary studies.
I say primary because a person's major/minor only scratches the surface of what they study. My major and minors wouldn't tell you that I have taken seven classes in the German department and studied abroad. It wouldn't tell you that I love the arts, and have thought about minoring in Theater. One of the coolest things about Dartmouth is that because we are a liberal arts college, we get to take classes outside of our main areas of study that allow us to be adventurous. Although I think I am set, who knows, I might switch it up completely after a class in a different department.
Till Next Time,