North Kingstown resident to graduate from URI as top philosophy student

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Student newspaper columnist hopes to become food writer

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 8, 2008 – North Kingstown resident Rebecca Long took an uncommon path to earning a college degree, choosing to major in philosophy rather than what some would consider a more practical discipline.

But for her, it was the right choice. Long will graduate from the University of Rhode Island on May 18 and receive the President’s Award for Student Excellence as the top philosophy student on campus.

“When I enrolled at URI, I wasn’t sure yet what I wanted to major in. I took an intro to philosophy class and found it to be really challenging, and it seemed like a good fit for me,” said Long. “Rather than major in something that provides you with a skill set that allows you to do just one thing, philosophy teaches you a way to look at everything. I learned how to learn, so now I can approach almost any subject with confidence.”

It was helpful to Long that her philosophy classes were small, the professors were supportive, and she became close with her fellow philosophy majors.

“I liked having a group of people who shared my intellectual interests,” said Long, who made the Dean’s List every semester at URI and earned the Grace B. Sherrer Award from the URI Honors Program for her high grade point average.

Long and her fellow philosophy students even created a club they called Philonymous, or Philosophers Anonymous.

“We hang out together and talk about philosophy and talk about other topics in a philosophical way,” she explained. “It’s not a debate club and it’s not political, but we cover all kinds of current events and scientific issues, and occasionally things get a little intense. The one understanding we have is that everyone approaches the discussion with an open mind and in a logical way.

During her four years at URI, Long developed an interest in writing about food and proposed to the editor of the student newspaper, The Good 5 Cent Cigar, that she write a periodic column on the topic. Called the Rhody Eat Beat, she wrote about local farmers markets, ethnic food markets and restaurants.

Long even turned her food column into an honors project titled Foray into Food Writing: Philosophical Approaches to Contemporary Food Movements, in which she explored aquaculture, the raw milk movement and other issues.

With graduation fast approaching, Long is still deciding about her next step. She is considering enrolling in graduate school, perhaps in cultural studies, and looking for a job as a food writer. While she would love to write for glossy cooking magazines like Gourmet or for the food section of a newspaper, she thinks it’s more likely that she will end up writing for food industry publications. Eventually, though, she would like to write books on the subject.

“I like good food, so aesthetics plays a role in my interest in this field, but I’m not really interested in being a restaurant reviewer,” she said. “I’m much more interested in writing about food-related issues, from economic issues like the cost of food to the environmental impacts of various foods.

“My philosophy major has influenced the way I think about topics like these,” Long concluded. “When you’re trained in logic, you can’t help thinking about logical fallacies when you listen to the news. It’s astounding how many fallacies there are in the news these days.”