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Michael Kahn

Michael Kahn

Michael Kahn

Major: Philosophy, Politics & Economics

What is your IIM about?

My IIM focuses on the intersection of politics, economics, and philosophy (PPE).  I concentrate primarily on the various ethical questions posed by philosophy, yet by broadening my inquiries to include politics and economics, I am able to focus more thoroughly on addressing practical ethical questions that arise in a complex political environment.  To this end, I have designed a course of study that provides the matrix for a robust philosophy-driven education that is at the same time thoroughly grounded and contextualized in the social sciences.

In my philosophy coursework at Brandeis, I have passionately invoked the principles of idealism, becoming a staunch defender of human rights and a vigorous proponent of the need to both study and live a morally justifiable life.  In these investigations, I seek to understand the origins of morality as well as the practical difficulties of actualizing various ethical theories.  At the same time, my inquiries into economics have deeply motivated and significantly impacted my vocational aspirations by providing a practical contextualization for any meaningful political philosophy.  Through the synthesis of all of these studies, I have learned the value of critical thinking, writing, and rhetorical skills, all of which are necessary to becoming an effective leader in modern society.

When and how did you begin the IIM process?

I began the IIM process in my sophomore year when I was almost finished with the requirements for a major in philosophy.  At that point I knew that I had not accomplished the goals I had set for myself—principally the ability to apply the conceptual framework of philosophy to the practical problems of the world in which we live.  Further research revealed that many universities offer an IIM concentration of PPE; I then set out, with the full support and guidance of each department, to construct my own IIM.

How are you pursuing the IIM outside of the classroom?

As a junior, I am now well into the coursework covered by my IIM, which continues to be a highly rewarding experience.  These studies have encouraged me to reflect upon my own place in society and my plan for a future career embodying the ideals and morals I have gleaned from my coursework.  Indeed, from an early age, I have been fascinated by and attracted to the world of business—not simply as a means of earning a living but also as an instrument of realizing these high moral standards of conduct.  While the study of philosophy alone would continue to have engaged me, I knew that a joint program, encompassing the study of politics and economics, would provide me with an even wider grounding in the disciplines that ultimately would guide me in the future.

Increasingly, the world of business is intertwined with that of governmental policy, much of which is driven by economic theory and necessity.  A program of study that spans all three of these essential disciplines has been extraordinarily valuable in my summer opportunities, for instance as an intern for a real estate firm specializing in low-income housing, I was able to approach my work not simply from an economic perspective but also from the ethical vantage point of running a profitable business while trying to provide housing opportunities for those in underserved communities.  Surely, these same skills will also greatly assist me in providing a solid foundation for my career aspirations.

What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing an IIM?

As a UDR, I would eagerly encourage those who seek my advice to proactively steer the content of their education towards those majors that best suit their interests and future career objectives.  I am a vigorous proponent of inspiring students to take ownership over their course of study; indeed, by allowing creativity in crafting new majors in tune with those areas of interest about which students are most passionate, students can realize a more highly rigorous conception of who they are.