assignments

  • Book Group(10-20%)
    informal
    optional

    There are a number of books on happiness that might be suitable for a book group in this class. Book groups meet and discuss their books 2-4 times, usually reporting separate journals back to me.
    Dropbox
  • Critical Analysis Paper(15-20%)
    formal
    optional

    This is a standard philosophy paper in which you take on a topic, usually from class, that can be discussed critically in 5-8 pages. Contact me for topic approval.
    Dropbox
  • Critical Responses(20-30%)
    formal
    required

    We'll use this assignment for a variety of small exercises from short paragraph responses to short papers. Be sure to leave your name off your paper when turning it in through the dropbox link to the right.
    Dropbox
  • Final Exam(25-35%)
    formal
    required

    A comprehensive final exam based on the study questions.
    Dropbox
  • Happiness Practicum(15-25%)
    informal
    optional

    The Happiness Practicum allows you to experiment with one (15%) or two (25%) specific practical exercises for investigating happiness. You will produce journal entries reflecting on your experience. The overall goal is to answer this question: Does this practice have potential for increasing my happiness?

    Option 1: Mindfulness Meditation and Journal. This exercise will introduce you to mindfulness meditation or, if you already meditate, give you an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between meditative experience and happiness. Depending upon your interests, you could try other forms of meditation as well. We'll start this around the time we discuss Buddhism. You will be asked to meditate 5 times a week for about 4-5 weeks, turning in three to five journals over that time. More details in class and at the wiki page.

    Option 2: Savoring and Journal. This exercise is based on the work of Fred Bryant, who offers practical advice about creating and evaluating savoring experiences. You'll come up with two to three experiences and journal on each. Schedule this for the 2-3 weeks after the topic comes up in class (late March).

    Option 3: Gratitude and Journal. This exercise involves keeping a gratitude journal for a period of two-three weeks. You don't necessarily turn that in (it's likely to include some personal things), but you do turn in two journal entries based on the guidelines for this exercise from the leading researchers on this, Emmons & McCullough.

    Option 4: Yoga Experience and Journal. This exercise involves pursuing an experience with yoga over about 4-5 weeks and assessing the effects, if any, of that experience on aspects of daily life that relate to happiness. Your yoga experience may be a beginner's yoga class or a deepening of your current practice. Many students already doing exercise-yoga use this assignment as a reason to visit a yoga studio. Early journals should focus on the physical and mental exp of different sessions. Try to describe the feeling of a good yoga session both physically and mentally. In later journals, try to notice effects from a good yoga session on interactions and thinking immediately following the session.
    Dropbox
  • Midterm Exam(10-20%)
    formal
    optional

    In class exam on Study Questions to date.
    Dropbox
  • Philosophy of Happiness Paper(20-35%)
    formal
    required

    This 7-8 page paper presents your philosophy of happiness. Make selections from course content (both evidence and theories you agree with, as well as conclusions you draw from rejecting or partially disagreeing with some views) and assemble an overall theory which tailors the best resources in the course to your understanding of your own personality and outlook. Be sure to provide rationales (reasons and explanations) for your view.
    Dropbox
  • Short Term Research(0-25%)
    formal
    optional

    Often a class discussion can be improved by additional student research. I will offer these opportunities on an "as needed" and voluntary basis. Typically students satisfy the research request and report back to the class or online discussion.