First-Year Seminar: Purpose, Work, and College

Course description: What is our Why? How does a sense of purpose relate to our work and studies, our wellbeing, and our plan for a meaningful life? How does the purpose of education relate to our sense of purpose as a student? This introduction to Purposeful Work at Bates centers on students’ exploration of their own purpose[fulness] as they begin their college career and the purpose(s) of education at selected moments in history. Students read and reflect on texts that are foundational to the philosophy of Purposeful Work at Bates, liberal education, and grading practices. They practice reflective writing to learn and argue their own views of purpose[fulness], college, grading, and work. In the practice of Purposeful Work at Bates, they explore the importance of alignment between values, interests, strengths, skills, identity, and their past, present, and future work.

Learning Objectives:

Through writing, reading, listening, discussion, and engagement with yourself, each other, and the material, you will: 

  1. Practice and refine your writing and communication skills and processes (including idea generation, drafting, feedback, revising, editing, presenting) in a variety of genres (including reflective journal, descriptive and argumentative essay, debate, policy recommendation memorandum);
  2. Begin to explore your values, interests, strengths, and personality — and articulate how and why those align with your work and purpose;
  3. Design a plan for engaging in exploration with Purposeful Work during your time at Bates;
  4. Critique differing accounts of the purpose of education/liberal education and grading; 
  5. Begin to familiarize yourself with life at Bates.