This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue, Happiness, & Self-Transcendence” 2017 Summer Seminar. In the fall, Molly Ogunyemi will begin work as a Lecturer at the Institute of Humanities of the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos. Valerie Wallace is Associate Director, Communications, for Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.
Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?
Molly Ogunyemi: Western Nigeria.
VW: Tell me about your research.
MO: My primary interests are in interdisciplinary studies that can contribute to scholarly dialogue and mutual enrichment between philosophical anthropology and other sciences. (For example psychology, neurosciences, communication sciences and managerial sciences).
I am intrigued by themes of unity and coherence in lives, narrative philosophy, virtues and habit formation, and the philosophy of psychotherapy techniques. I would like to develop youth formation programs. The main philosophical themes behind my research in recent years are topics of virtue, happiness, meaning of life, unity of life and narrative self-understanding as a tool for self-improvement over time.
During conversations with many people, both at work and in casual settings, we often raised questions about the meaning of life and happiness. I had studied philosophy out of personal interests as a medical student and even more for a few years after medical school while working in different hospitals. My interests in these topics led me to enroll in short courses in philosophy during my holidays in a private institute outside my university. I came to see the importance of having a deeper understanding of the human being in his totality in order to be able to offer solutions to age-old problems which are still actual today. These include questions about one’s personal identity, finding meaning in life, the benefits of virtues for living a happy life and the motivation to continue working on difficult tasks or in uncomfortable situations in view of a greater good which is achieved from persevering in those activities. I realized that studying philosophy as I did was not an option that everybody around me had and I decided to dedicate more time to this study with the hope of transmitting whatever I learn to others who study different sciences or conduct highly specialized research which gives little opportunity for detailed philosophical instructions.
In addition, I think that the need for interdisciplinary studies is ever increasing and urgent since the development of particular sciences that promote human flourishing requires understanding the human being as much as possible.
VW: What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s seminar?
MO: I am looking forward to learning from the speakers and my co-participants and to sharing my experience with people who approach topics that are my primary research interests from different perspectives. It will be interesting to meet some of the speakers whose writings I have read. For example, I have read and studied the works of Dan P. McAdams for my doctoral thesis.
VW: What are your non-academic interests?
MO: My hobbies include reading novels, singing, sewing, cooking and talking with people and listening to them. I also enjoy taking part in aerobic exercises, volunteer work/service projects in rural areas. I enjoy excursions, discovering new places and learning about cultures that are different from mine.