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Stories of Work, Life and Fulfillment

“What’s your major?” “What are you going to do after graduation?”

These are familiar questions to most college students, yet they can be unsettling for those without firm answers. How are we supposed to figure out what we want to “do” with the “rest of our lives?” 

This community is intended for students who are uncertain about their futures. They may be confused about their choice of major and/or about what kinds of work to pursue in the years ahead. They may be wondering what skills and abilities they have, what kind of life they want to live, what (if anything) they’d enjoy pursuing as a career, and who to listen to for advice. In this community, students will shape a better understanding of these as central questions in life, and they’ll learn what it takes to continually answer and re-answer such questions throughout the years ahead.

Inside the Classroom

In the classroom students will explore the concepts of “work,” “life,” and “fulfillment” (among others) in depth. There are countless theories, myths, stories, cultural expectations, and philosophical perspectives on how we should live our lives. As we examine some of these, we will consider the intersections between our relationships, our work, and our lives, and we will question cultural ideals about things like “happiness,” “wasted time,” “work ethic,” “personal fulfillment,” “success,” “passion,” “connection,” and “vocation.”

With an emphasis on stories and reflective assignments, students will engage their own perceptions of what makes life fulfilling and/or meaningful. In-depth interviews with alumni and other professionals will provide opportunities to understand life-choices and the unexpected twists and turns of work-life, and we’ll spend considerable time on the importance of close personal relationships in shaping all aspects of our lives. Along the way (with lots of advising and interaction with Career Services) we’ll be taking on those omnipresent questions people keep asking about what to major in, what career to pursue, and what kind of life to lead.

Outside the Classroom

For guidance through this exploration we will look in particular to University of Richmond alumni. Students will read and hear the stories of alumni from varied graduation years, majors, and career paths. Students will formally interview several alumni (and possibly others) in interesting career areas, exploring the choices that brought these people to their current places in life. On a class trip we will meet and interact with alumni and others who have made distinctive life choices and explore the realities of the winding (rather than straight) path ahead.

Research and Capstone Project

During the spring semester, students will continue to interview alumni and other professionals. Working in groups, they will combine their interview experiences into audio-documentary projects on work, life, and fulfillment, sharing their projects and the key insights they have gained with the university community.

Course Fast Facts

Scott Johnson, Ph.D.

Years Offered: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16

Fall course: 
RHCS 279: Stories of Work, Life and Fulfillment (1 unit)

Spring course: 
IDST 290: Stories of Work, Life and Fulfillment Seminar (.5 unit)

Group travel: London, England

SSIR Stories of Work: London 2015