Class of 2004
R.J. Donovan earned a J.D. in Law from the Vermont Law School in 2009. Since graduating, R.J. worked as an instructor at the New England Culinary Institute and also practiced law with a small firm. He is currently in International Business working for a private company specializing in environmental solutions.
- Major: Philosophy
Q & A
Hometown? Dorset, Vermont
On Being A Philosophy Major
I did not have any access to philosophy prior to WC, but I was one of a few incoming freshmen who were offered a spot in PHL 235- Foundations of Morality. This was a great boon to me. Without it I am pretty sure I would not have taken a philosophy course, and I almost certainly would not have been a major.
What area of philosophy interests you most and why?
I really enjoy political philosophy, because I think that it encapsulates all other aspects of philosophy. Political philosophy is about society, what society should be, and what invidividuals within society should do. To understand people en masse, you must understand people at the individual level. The tradition of political philosophers includes the greatest philosophers ever: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Bruno, Bacon, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, and Kant - just to name a few of the best known. Some of these thinkers were political, some were ethicists, some were religious thinkers, but all were interested in society and the individual within society.
What is unique about the philosophy department at Washington College that distinguishes it from other departments/majors?
The best thing about the WC philosophy department is the professors within the department. All the professors are exceptional people, both personally and professionally. The professors have expertise in so many different and varied areas that WC can offer courses that are beyond the scope of other small liberal arts colleges. Seminars on Kant, Existentialism in literature, environmental ethics, philosophy of science, in depth treatment of eastern religion, and even a course on liberation theology are some of the incredibly diverse course offerings available. Because the staff is so accomplished, each member brings his or her own personal excellence to every course.
What is the topic of your senior thesis?
It was a comparison of Hobbes’ Leviathan to a contemporary text in international relations theory by Hans Morgenthau Politics Among Nations. It is a comparison of the two texts, and it examined political theory.
Have you participated in any special activities, internships, clubs, field trips, etc. that have helped you get more out of the major?
Yes. The discussions by visiting speakers, interactive seminars, and movie viewings really exposed me to philosophy outside of class.
What are your career plans after college? How has philosophy prepared you for and/or guided you to this career choice?
Philosophy has prepared me for ANY career. It has taught me how to think. I can talk to people, listen to what they have to say, I can argue and present my point, and I can dissect other people’s arguments. These are all skill employers want.
I am undecided as what to do after college. I am going to take a year off and work, and in that year I plan to decide whether or not to go back to grad school directly or to pursue a career either in business or the foreign service.
Philosophy is what you make of it. For centuries philosophy was considered the highest discipline of study, and I think that this is because it teaches people something beyond a trade that will make money. It helps people find out how to live well. I can always go out in the world and make money. It was because of the WC philosophy department that I learned how to live well.