In this lesson, I tried to lay the foundation to help students connect their ideas about the meaning and purpose of college (“Collegeview”) with a set of values that shape their understanding about the larger world (“Worldview”). Even with the Worldview activity and the various analog and digital values sort activities out there (I used this one for my class), I find this aspect of the Life Design process and my Arrive and Thrive curriculum to be the least satisfying. There is so much to unpack, question, and interrogate that the idea that students will be able to generate a fully-developed Worldview by the following week to be almost comically aspirational. At best, I hope that they will generate a list of ideals that they claim to value or to which they hope to aspire that they can then explore over the course of their time in college.
Rather than seeing this week’s activities as an endpoint in my students’ development of their Worldview (“I believe this”), I tried to frame the activities as a starting point for asking a set of larger questions about themselves, their education, and their relationship to the broader world that can shape how they approach their education. After all, the big, philosophical questions that are at the heart of the Worldview activity – what is my purpose? what is the meaning of life? what is my relationship to others? how do I define good and evil? – are questions that a broad liberal arts education is meant to help students tackle.
Every fall first-year students at Hopkins engage in a series of talks, readings, screenings, and conversations around a Common Question. This year’s question – “What is the common good?” – is especially relevant to Life Design and the work of this class, so I’ve tried to connect the values activities and in-class conversations to the themes and programs hosted by the Common Question committee, as a way to further anchor this activity into what is happening on campus.