James Hepburn ’20
I majored in math and philosophy at the University of South Carolina.
What do you like about UNC’s graduate program in Russian and East European Studies?
I like the UNC-Visegrad program, which seems to be distinctive among East European studies centers in that it focuses on Central Europe, and how scholars from that specific region are regularly hosted.
Why did you choose to specialize in this region of the globe?
I have Hungarian ancestry, and I am interested in the history and culture of the region, and the moral potential I see in it.
Do you have work and/or study experience in the region?
I studied abroad, involved myself in a civil societal organization, have attended summer schools and an internship all in and focusing on the region.
What are your research interests?
I am interested in both the political and intellectual history of Hungary from the 19th century until WWII. Intellectual history is particularly fertile in that it has philosophical import and can provide ideas that can be put into practice in improving the region. I also enjoy more technical public policy analysis for its immediate practical use and precision.
What would you like to do after you graduate?
I would like to work in Central Europe in one of the following fields: diplomacy, civil service, at a research institute, an international organization, regional analyst and advisor, or perhaps politics. My goal would be to improve governance and civil society in some way in the area.
What are your hobbies? What do you like doing in your free time?
I play cocktail piano because I have bad rhythm. I am bad at reading sheet music, and enjoy good walks and conversations on my beloved subjects of philosophy and theology.
This is Buda Castle, effectively a palace, in the 1930s. Progressively revised since the middle ages, it reached its arguably most beautiful state in 1896 for the millennial celebrations of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian basin. Famed Hungarian architect Ybl Miklos redesigned the interior and exterior of the palace with heavy nationalist symbolism at a time when the palace was still the seat of Habsburg rule. This tension between old imperial and modern nationalist interests was fascinatingly depicted in stone until the castle was effectively destroyed during WWII.