HE 2222: Translating the Science of Purpose

Instructors: Dr. Anthony Burrow, Dr. Rachel Sumner

3 credits. Letter or S/U grades.
Offered: Spring
Visit the Class Roster for Course Times

Course Description

In recent years scholars have produced an abundance of research demonstrating the potential impact of having a sense of purpose in life. From increased psychological well-being and net worth to decreased risk of mortality, there is evidence that purpose is related to outcomes that matter to most people. Though these findings are well-documented in the empirical literature, there is a need for people to work with individuals and communities outside of academia to translate existing research into applications that are practical, relevant, and accessible. The primary aim of this course is to offer students an introduction to the science of purpose with the goal of being able to share this knowledge and co-create new knowledge with communities that might benefit from it. Students will be supported in developing skills for communicating about research with groups and individuals that might apply relevant findings in their own lives, organizations, and/or communities. Though our focus will be on translating the science of purpose in life in particular, we anticipate that these skills will be applicable for communicating about other types of research as well.

Learning Outcomes

Throughout this course, students will have opportunities to:
  • Identify different approaches to defining and measuring purpose commonly used by researchers
  • Articulate how purpose is linked to various outcomes and evaluate cultural and societal factors that influence the pursuit of purpose
  • Develop effective communication strategies for translating the science of purpose to different audiences
  • Implement skills for communicating across differences in identity, position, and perspective to imagine and describe potential applications of purpose-related findings
  • Apply the science of purpose to practical situations, such as program development, enhancing youth learning or engagement, or deepening employee satisfaction and retention.