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Philosophy and Work: Helping Students Conceptualize Their Careers

Ask a scholar why they’re in faculty and their reply will almost definitely embody one thing about securing a well-paying job, increasing their profession choices, or buying the information crucial to achieve success in life. The cultural narrative that has been fed to so many faculty college students is that receiving greater schooling is simply what you do to get job. You earn good grades in highschool so that you just’re a extra aggressive faculty applicant, and you earn good grades in faculty in an effort to safe a steady, effectively paying, and (should you’re fortunate) fulfilling profession. Despite the sturdy connection college students cite between faculty and future profession success, it’s uncommon that college students are ever challenged to suppose critically concerning the position profession ought to play of their futures, or how this squares with their different priorities, values, and private convictions. 

Philosophy graduate college students are sometimes uniquely suited to assist their undergraduates think about how faculty can contribute to a satisfying profession. As philosophers, they may help college students discover what may make for a significant worthwhile life, whereas as college students, they will determine with their college students in understanding the challenges of figuring out promising profession alternatives. Due to this reality, I experimented with implementing a philosophy of labor unit as a part of a course I not too long ago taught referred to as “Ethics in the 21st Century.” This course is meant to satisfy a normal schooling requirement, and thus most who take the course will not be meaning to be profession philosophers, however as a substitute possess a various vary {of professional} objectives. 

I used the philosophy of labor unit to provide college students introductory publicity to plenty of points in ethical and political philosophy, together with Marx’s concept of alienation, the excellence between instrumental and intrinsic items, theories of well-being, and the ethics of markets. The unit on the philosophy of labor occurred after we coated the main metaethical positions and normative moral theories. This allowed college students to attract connections between their metaethical and normative moral viewpoints and the position they take to work to play of their lives. Class classes had been roughly 70% lecture and dialogue and 30% writing workouts designed round a number of the following questions (Some of the next questions I owe to Dr. Paul Blaschko’s “The Working Life” class on the University of Notre Dame.):

  • How do you outline profession success?
  • What sacrifices are you prepared to make as a way to acquire what you outline as profession success? 
  • How do you see your ethical philosophy influencing your profession, each on the stage of which profession you select and the way you conduct your self inside that profession?
  • Identify a few of your fundamental passions, values, and strengths, and determine some potential careers that you just suppose align effectively with these traits.
  • What are some measures of success that individuals generally give attention to of their working life that you just suppose are in the end dangerous measures of a profitable profession? How do you intend to keep away from falling into utilizing these dangerous metrics to measure the success of your personal profession?
  • Identify at the very least one particular person that you just view as an exemplar within the space of labor. Describe why you suppose this particular person is an exemplar, and what options of their strategy to work that you just wish to emulate. 

There are additionally a number of, well-developed on-line assets to make use of for educating the philosophy of labor, together with tasks comparable to 80,000 hours affiliated with Oxford and Ethics at Work on the University of Notre Dame. Using these assets, I discovered plenty of useful articles and movies for prompting college students to suppose via the implications of their future profession selections. 

At the tip of the course, I acquired detailed suggestions from many college students who discovered the unit one of the crucial precious components of the category. Given the subject’s amenability to each theoretical and summary questions, in addition to to very concrete questions that college students have about their futures, graduate college students ought to think about implementing a unit on the philosophy of labor both inside their position as a main teacher or as a educating assistant. 

Laura is a PhD scholar on the University of Southern California, the place she makes a speciality of social, ethical, and political philosophy. She is at the moment engaged on her dissertation, which focuses on the implications that growing sociological variety has for public motive liberalism.


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