When Stephen King sat down for a phone interview from his home in Maine with Connecticut radio station WNPR in July, UConn senior philosophy and political science major Emily Boushee was busy fielding dozens of phone calls from listeners who were eager to ask the famous horror writer a question on air. Boushee remembers feeling jittery about her celebrity encounter.
“Even though I was only going to talk to him for about a half of a second, I was getting nervous because I wasn’t sure if I should call him Stephen or Mr. King,” says Boushee.
From helping behind the scenes to producing her own show, Boushee says her internships at Connecticut media outlets have not only utilized the skills she’s learned in her philosophy classes, but have also allowed her to explore her passion for the media and politics.
“I’ve always been a news junkie,” says Boushee. “I love watching the news and being informed. I also like the idea of holding people accountable for what they do.”
In particular, Boushee says that her Philosophy of Ethics class with Assistant Professor Hallie Liberto drove her interest in the deeply rooted ethical issues behind political debates. She says the class helped her to produce engaging questions for the production of her own radio show.
“That class helped me form a lot of my own ethical beliefs about how I feel about many issues on the shows that I’ve helped out with at WNPR,” says Boushee.
During the string of political scandals last summer involving former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, Boushee pitched her own idea for a show about political scandal to the senior producer.
“I really wanted to do a story on surviving political scandal and why we continue to elect corrupt individuals into office,” says Boushee. “It was really fun and nerve-wracking to produce my own show because it’s on the radio for everyone to hear.”
To prepare for her story for the air, Boushee was responsible for writing a brief introduction for the host, suggesting prompts for the host, and booking guests to speak on the subject, including UConn Assistant Professor of Political Science Vincent Moscardelli.
“In terms of putting together your own show, I loved the creative element of WNPR,” says Boushee. “It was a really rewarding experience.”
Professor Donald Baxter, head of the Department of Philosophy, says that despite what many people think, philosophy is a very useful major, both for the workplace and for personal growth.
“Philosophy encourages you to evaluate the reasons on both sides of an issue, and to go with the better ones,” Baxter says. “This focus on reasons leads to civil discussion rather than mere political quarreling.”
Philosophy Professor Michael Lynch, Boushee’s former instructor and recent guest on WNPR’s “Where We Live” segment, also says that studying philosophy can provide an important foundation in politics and media.
“One of things philosophy teaches us is, one the one hand, how be open-minded and listen to a range of opinions,” says Lynch. “On the other hand, philosophy also teaches us to be very critical and analyze what the other person is trying to say.”
Lynch also adds that Boushee’s exceptional work made her a perfect fit for the WNPR.
“Emily is extremely intelligent and hardworking with a critical and creative mind,” says Lynch.
Boushee’s impressive work at WNPR has since led her current internship at CT News Junkie in the Hartford capitol building.
“Walking into the capitol building once a week is pretty cool,” says Boushee. “Even when I’m not covering stories, I’m able to attend press conferences and observe what it’s like being a journalist.”
In the future, Boushee would like to continue working in the media, with a special interest in public radio. Boushee says that critical thinking skills she has learned in her philosophy class will continue to shape her work in media.
“My philosophy classes have just made me a better thinker,” says Boushee. “My classes have helped me see the other side of an argument and understand its merits.”
By Samantha Ruggiero ’14