James McRae Furman University

Name: James McRae
Graduation year:1998
Major: Philosophy, Political science
Other degrees: PhD in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa
Profession: Associate Professor of Asian Philosophy and Religious Studies and Coordinator for Asian Studies at Westminster College
Company: Westminster College
City: Fulton, MO

I have a dual appointment in philosophy and religious studies at Westminster College. I'm also an instructor of Jeet Kune Do and Jiu-Jitsu at the school.

Life of a Furman Alumni

  • Best Furman experience:

      One of my best experiences at Furman was traveling to Japan with Dr. Shaner during the summer of 2006 to study Aikido with Koichi Tohei Sensei. I learned invaluable lessons about Japanese language, culture, and philosophy while I was there, all of which helped me immensely in graduate school. Dr. Shaner was a great teacher and mentor to me while I was at Furman and has continued to be so in the years since I graduated. The Aikido club on campus was very important to my extra-curricular studies: Dr. Shaner, Dr. Stone, Ileana Shaner, and Eric Harrell taught me a great deal about how to apply Japanese philosophy to my life outside the classroom. Some of my other best Furman memories involve all the classes I took with Professor Edwards. He is one of the best teachers I've ever known and I still try to follow his example when I teach my own classes.

  • Advice for a philosophy major:

      When you first declare your philosophy major, try to take a wide variety of courses with different professors so that you can find the areas of philosophy that interest you the most. Talk to your professors about graduate school early so you can get an idea of which programs might be right for you and what coursework they require. To be highly competitive in today's market, you need to do things as an undergraduate that will set you apart from other applicants. Join Phi Sigma Tau (the philosophy honor society) and try to revise one of your class papers for presentation at an undergraduate conference or for publication in an undergraduate journal (such as PST's Dialogue). Actively participate in any on-campus clubs that are related to philosophy and try to serve in leadership positions in these organizations. Professors are happy to take dedicated students under their wings and help them through the application process, so don't be shy about asking them for advice. The most important thing is to try to apply the philosophy you learn to your daily life to cultivate yourself, improve your interpersonal relationships, and positively change your socio-political environment. If you are living the examined life, it will show in your cover letter, statement of purpose, and recommendations. Unless, of course, you've been studying Diogenes; I wouldn't try to emulate that.

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