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Kori Coleman Reflects on the Benefits of Majoring in Philosophy

January 2021

Spelman alumna Kori Coleman is an integrated creative strategist, curatorial artist, and entrepreneur. Throughout her agency career, she has crafted the story of Fortune 500 brands such as United Airlines, Samsung, Chevron, Walmart, American Express, Chobani and many more.

In addition to being a creative strategist, Coleman is also the founder and executive director of the Black classical music experience, D-Composed. D-Composed celebrates and honors Black creativity and culture through the music of Black composers. To date, the organization has exposed audiences across the nation to the works of 60+ Black composers.

D-Composed’s work has been featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Chance the Rapper’s Chi-Town Christmas. To date, Kori has secured notable collaborations for D-Composed with Apple, SXSW, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago & The University of Chicago.

Q: Why did you major in philosophy and, what would you say to high school students interested in doing the same?

For me, philosophy was a natural progression because I am incredibly curious. What is fascinating about philosophy is there are no right or wrong answers. It is the ideal major for those kids who obsessively asked their parents why when they were younger. Your philosophical education is where you begin to broaden your worldview and perspective.

I will admit I am biased, but I believe this degree opens up this portal that allows you to have a deeper understanding of the world and those around you. Be prepared to have your viewpoint of the world challenged. If you have an insatiable sense of curiosity and you don’t believe in accepting things just because that’s how it’s always been, then philosophy is the path for you.

Q: I’m interested in philosophy. Can I make money with this degree?

To me, philosophy is the pathway to any career where you can solve problems. It’s a popular choice for those interested in law & politics. I’m a strategist, and my whole career is around trying to get to the root of the problem while providing potential pathways and solutions for my clients. If you are looking to solve problems for organizations or individuals using wit, logic, and strategy – then there are various financially stable pathways for this degree. If anything, we’re the most likely to be leaders in an organization because people rely on our critical thinking and logic skills.

Q: How do I get the most out of philosophy class?

Like with anything, you get in what you put in. Walk into each class curious and hungry because there is no other discipline that will open your eyes more. The discussions we had were so insightful. Plus, the writing skills that I gained helped me develop compelling narratives and strategies for my clients. Open yourself up to the discussion and be prepared to have a point of view. In general, being able to converse and articulate your viewpoint is a valuable skill that some degrees don’t have the opportunity to develop like philosophy majors.

Q: Why should I major in philosophy?

A philosophy degree gives you some of the most versatile and tangible skill sets that open up many career opportunities. The skills that you gain as a philosophy major are incredibly transferable. Because philosophy majors have this natural curiosity, I think more of the world is open for us. As a philosophy major, you will become better at articulating your point of view, critical thinking, understanding different perspectives, and writing coherently and succinctly.

Q: How did your philosophy degree serve as a “springboard” in your current career?

As soon as my employer discovered my degree was in philosophy, I became a much more compelling candidate because they knew I would approach strategy with a different perspective from everyone else with more traditional backgrounds in our department.

My philosophy degree helps me stand out and proves to employers that I know how to think critically. Critical thinking is a crucial part of my role as a strategist. As a strategist, I’m the expert on how society, culture, and people operate and move. That curiosity and willingness to understand are how I’m able to deliver effective strategies.

In addition to being a strategist, I’m also an entrepreneur. The skills that I learned in philosophy helped me quickly see gaps in the market due to my critical thinking skills. Because I saw and questioned why that gap existed, I became the founder & executive director of my own Black classical music organization. By look at the world through a philosophical lens, I noticed that Black people lacked representation within the classical music space. My solution was to create an organization that amplified the Black voices and culture through classical music.

Q: What inspired you to major in philosophy?

Philosophy truly gives you the skills to be a leader and make a difference and impact in the world. When I think about the mark I want to leave, I knew a traditional career path wasn’t for me. I want to create change and a lasting impact and use my gifts and skills to make a difference. Once you become a philosophy major, you’ve already proven that you are cut from a unique cloth since everyone doesn’t have the same curiosity about the world.

Many people accept the world as it is, but philosophy majors question why the world is the way it is and, they think about how they can be the change. While the pathway to a career isn’t always clear, I appreciate how as a philosophy major, it was kind of up to me to choose my destiny with what I wanted to do with this newfound knowledge. With a philosophy degree, the world is truly your oyster. You can take this newfound knowledge to define your destiny.

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