Bates College’s Purposeful Work initiative integrates students’ academic and cocurricular experiences with the exploration of different work settings and students’ own aspirations. A Psychosocial Well-being Grant from Bringing Theory to Practice helped to catalyze a curricular infusion project that is now a major component of the campus’ Center for Purposeful Work.
Purposeful Work Infusion classes make the connection between course content and meaning and purpose in work and careers in various ways. Generally, at least one class session, one reading, and one writing assignment are devoted to the connection. Many faculty members bring in guest speakers to discuss their process of constructing a meaningful career, using materials related to the class content.
The project has involved more than 90 percent of Bates students and almost 45 percent of all faculty members. Every department and academic program has developed courses that connect questions of purposeful work and students’ career explorations to course content. Student response has been overwhelmingly positive: 94 percent would recommend a Purposeful Work Infusion class to their peers, and over 70 percent believe their academic engagement was enhanced by these discussions of meaning and purpose.