Leo Stevenson was in high school when he first discovered his love for philosophy. Despite not having a particular interest in geopolitics, he said it was an international relations class that first piqued his interest.
“I remember loving the codifications of different schools of thought and different levels of analysis,” Stevenson said. “I liked how those distinctions allowed for such divergent and simultaneous ways of interpreting events.”
Now as a junior transfer from Middlebury College, Stevenson hopes to delve deeper. He plans to combine a concentration in philosophy with classes in literary studies, gender studies and intellectual history.
“I’m most fired up by the places where philosophy meets other disciplines,” Stevenson said. “I find it more pressing when it’s clear how a philosophical stance will affect real actions, and I find that there’s frequently more self-awareness of method and purpose in those less-categorizeable academic spaces.”
The interface of philosophy with disparate disciplines is something Stevenson learned firsthand last spring. During a semester off from classes, he worked with Editing Nature, a Yale University project that looks at the ethics of genetic engineering. The project aims to bring a variety voices to the table — ethicists, policymakers, indigenous groups and scientists — to discuss the responsible use of genetic technologies.
With that cross-disciplinary experience in his mind, he comes to Brown looking for more.
“That’s a lot of why I chose Brown,” Stevenson said. “It seems like there’s a huge amount of interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-pollination here, and I think that’s where the most impactful thinking happens in the humanities.”
Even before starting the semester, Stevenson started getting a feel for the Brown experience. During the last week in August, he took a hiking trip in New Hampshire’s White Mountains through Brown Outdoor Leadership Training, in a program designed specifically for sophomores, transfer students and Resumed Undergraduate Education students. After taking last semester off from classes, Stevenson says the trip helped to get him back in the academic swing of things.
“I felt like I needed a little full-time structured intimacy to get back into the feeling of being in a college community,” he said. “And it’s hard to pass up a chance to hike in the White Mountains.”
Now he’s concentrating on making Brown his new intellectual home.
“I’m mostly looking forward to meeting people and hearing about their work,” he said. “I’ve got a lot to do in the way of finding advising across different disciplines, meeting professors and finding students doing work I want to learn about. It’s all exciting!”