|SFTS master's student awarded scholarship to study philosophy at Notre Dame
Jacob Xiaoman Li, a second-year master’s student studying philosophical theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union, will spend the next academic year at the University of Notre Dame. His studies will be sponsored by The Nagel Institute at Calvin College and The Society of Christian Philosophers (SCP).
With major support from the John Templeton Foundation, this initiative is designed for Chinese scholars to reflect on the relationship between values and virtues. Li’s appointment will take place in South Bend, Ind., from August 2012 to May 2013. He is one of eight Chinese students selected to the program, and one of only two who gets to study at Notre Dame.
Like many SFTS students, Li’s studies have been enriched by the seminary’s affiliation with Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. Li’s academic passion is philosophy, and he’s been able to augment his theological studies with courses through the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology and the Philosophy Department of the University of California at Berkeley.
“Jacob is an acute thinker,” says Dr. Christopher Ocker, SFTS Professor of Church History. “His contributions to the discussions of the Muilenburg-Koenig Seminar last year were always insightful, and he is cultivating a broad grasp of Christian intellectual traditions at SFTS. He’s taken full advantage of the unique learning opportunities offered by the GTU, including study at Cal’s philosophy department. We’re all delighted that he has won this prestigious award.”
With his recent appointment to study at one of the world’s premiere philosophy programs, Li’s academic pursuits will be heightened by weekly interaction with world-renowned philosophy scholars.
“This appointment will allow me to study with the top-notch philosophers, like Peter Van Inwagen, Robert Audi and Thomas Flint,” Li said. “I will be able to know them. They will know me.”
Li is required to attend three graduate classes per semester and complete all written work and exams. He will also participate in activities sponsored by the Center for Philosophy of Religion in addition to the Friday morning discussion groups where work-in-progress of the fellows, faculty members and guests is reviewed.
Li has always excelled academically even though he only became interested in philosophy during his senior year at Oakland City University in Oakland City, Ind., where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. His passion for philosophy was so deep that he began planning to pursue a PhD in the field, including earning a master’s degree in a relative major.
As part of his undergraduate studies, Li also spent some time studying at Harvard University. After graduating from college, he went to seminary in Texas to study philosophy of religion with Greg Welty, an Oxford scholar who studied under Richard Swinburne. A year later, Li transferred to SFTS and the GTU in search of a reformed-based education and increased academic opportunities to pursue philosophy. He is in his second year at SFTS.
Following his 10-month appointment through the Nagel Institute, Li will return to the Bay Area to complete a joint Master of Divinity/Master of Arts degree from SFTS and the GTU in the summer of 2013. He then hopes to pursue a PhD in philosophy at an American university.
Li says he would likely return to China to teach, write and translate analytic philosophy books into Chinese. He believes that improving translations will thereby improve the accessibility of western analytic philosophy to more Chinese scholars.