Washington University Syllabus

Individual and Organizational Introspection

U87-435 Course Syllabus

Washington University

Fall 2016

This course is designed to assist students in taking maximum advantage of the educational potential and personal development opportunity found by being introspective, personally and, if so desired, in the work setting.  The course provides a framework for students to be reflective about their personal growth objectives, their strengths and weaknesses in a personal and organizational context and their desire for future personal and career direction. It also provides students with a framework for better understanding the nature of the organization in which they work. This course is basically a “Structured Independent Study”, but there will be five one-hour class meetings, each three weeks apart, to help put things in perspective.  Most of the work will be completed on an individual basis and in consultation with the professor. Class sessions will be on the following Tuesdays:  Aug 30, Sept 20, Oct 11, Nov 1, Nov 22.

The primary outcome objective of this course is for students to systematically consider and evaluate themselves and consider ideas and concepts that could help them with reflection, self-discovery, self-creation, introspection, personal and interpersonal effectiveness.  Course requirements and grading will focus on the following elements:

1. Personal Objectives and Book Reviews: 175 points (25 for Objectives, 50 for each of three book reviews).

You will begin the term by lying out and describing four or five personal objectives that you would like to work on, and/or ways you would personally and/or professionally like to grow or change, during this semester.  Consider including skills development (writing, making presentations, playing an instrument, learning computer applications, etc.) as well as personal and interpersonal development, improving relationships with various people important to you and the application of the knowledge base you have gained in life and/or in your university coursework to date.  Developing a healthier life style (with many different variables included) has been a goal for many past students in this class.  Due Sept 1.

You will also read three books:  Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (the first half, “Experiences in a Concentration Camp”), Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, and Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  You will turn in a brief “book review” of each book explaining which ideas from the books you found most useful, and why. (You do NOT need to summarize all ideas in each book.)

Suggested length for the personal objectives statement, one page (but don’t submit just bullet points; provide some context for each objective); for the book reviews, two-three pages each. Frankl book review is due Sept 18, Goleman book review is due Oct 9, Covey review is due Oct 30 (all assignments are to be emailed to me by 5 pm on these dates.)


2.  Personal/Professional Journals (and related assignments – see below): 200 points (50 points each, Due via email on Sept 11, Oct 2, Oct 23, Nov 20)

Throughout the term, come back to your objectives and comment regarding how you are (or are not) progressing on each one.  Also, describe how you are using the principles described in the Frankl, Goleman and Covey books as you get to them.   Write these journals so you can look back on your experience at the end of the term and remember salient elements, happenings, relationships, meetings, frustrations, successes, etc. Weekly you should keep notes (not to be turned in) for yourself so as not to lose sight of things over the several weeks between journal submissions.

Your journals should be emailed to me on the dates indicated. **NOTE: Be introspective in your journals and DO come back to how you are doing on your personal growth objectives as well as how you are applying or using ideas from the three books and class discussions.**

Additional assignments to complete and be submitted with your journals:

With Journal #1:  Ask three people who know you well for candid feedback about:

A.  How caring you are

B.  How good a listener you are

C.  How you deal with stress

D.  How empathic you are

E.  Anything else they might like to tell you that they think could be of help to you.

      Summarize what you learn from your interviews (do not give me detail about what each

      person specifically said).

With Journal #2: Write a “personal vision statement” describing your desired self, moving forward.  We will discuss this in class.

With Journal #3:  Write your own eulogy.  At the end of your life, what do you want friends and family to say about you as they reflect on your life?

 With Journal #4: Indicate three take-away ideas from this course that you will specifically attempt to utilize to improve yourself going forward.


3.  Random Acts of Kindness:  50 points

At some point during the first month of the class, do three ‘random acts of kindness’ for someone in your life (work, family, friend, or in the community).  Write a paragraph about each act that describes what you did, to/for whom you did it, why you chose to do it and the reaction you received.  Suggested total length:  1 – 2 pages.  (Due via email Sept 25)


4.  Quotes Paper:  50 points

Choose quotes – from any source – that you find interesting, useful, inspirational or fun and produce a full three-page paper, double spaced, that lists the quote(s) you have selected along with a statement about how/why you find each quote of interest.  You may choose one quote and write three pages or you may select many quotes and write a few sentences about each.  (due via email Oct 16)


5.   You may choose to do either of the following (5A) an analysis of organizational culture or (5B) more work on personal development with a book review of any book you feel may be helpful and of interest to you (see ‘suggested’ list at the end of this syllabus). I would suggest that if you are trying to focus on your place in your current organization and your future there, do the organizational analysis. If you are either very comfortable in your current organization or you have already decided to leave it, or you are not working, read and report on an individually chosen book. Do whichever seems most interesting/useful for you. (Due via email Nov 6)

5A. Defining the Organizational Culture and Your Place in It:  50 points.

Begin by interviewing five executives in your organization, getting their sense – plus and minus – of the organization’s culture.  Then do a 3 – 4 page paper discussing all of the following about your organization and your position in it:

a)  What comments from your interviews help you define the organizational culture?

     b)  What advice did your interviewees give about how to be successful in the organization?

     c) How would you evaluate the organizational culture?  Does it stimulate or inhibit creativity?  Is it friendly/supportive, oppressive or somewhere in between?

d)  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the organization?

e)   What contribution have you made to the organization over the past year?

  1. Should you be working for this organization five years from now?  Why or why not?


5B.    Individual Book Review:  50 Points.

See the list of books at the end of this syllabus.  You may choose from this list or pick another book that you feel may have relevance to you.  Do a 3 – 4 page paper discussing salient ideas and concepts you are taking away from the reading of this book and discuss how/why these concepts are useful to you.


6.   Class Sessions to Facilitate Your Independent Work:  100 points (25 points per class for classes 2-5 for attendance and participation).  Grading criteria:  Think, listen effectively to your classmates, and contribute productively to the discussion.

  1. The first class session is designed to go over this syllabus in detail and discuss course objectives and expectations.   All questions will be answered/discussed and students should leave this session with a clear understanding of what they are to accomplish in this course.

  1. The second, third and fourth class sessions are designed to provide an opportunity to talk with other students about how you and they are doing on the various assignments as well as to discuss the books and their implications for perspective and individual achievement in life and in this course.   The class sessions will also provide an opportunity to discuss how the keeping of the journal is coming along and generally to gain from the experience and insight of others in the class.

  1. The final class session will focus on what everyone learned during the course. Be prepared to discuss:

  • What you learned about yourself

  • What you learned about your organization

  • What concepts and ideas you plan to focus on in your life, going forward.

This class session is important as it will draw on the experiences of all course participants and will summarize salient elements of the personal and organizational introspection achieved by each class member.


In Summary:

Effectively done, this will not be the easiest academic credit you will ever earn.  It can, however, be one of the most productive courses you do in your academic career from a personal development point of view if you establish useful personal growth objectives, you are introspective as you do your journals, and you complete all assignments in a thoughtful way.

There is a lot of work.  Don’t procrastinate.  You must be disciplined about doing your journals and other assignments.  Any student who does not submit assignments on time (objectives, book reviews, journals and papers) will be penalized in the assessment of the grade to be assigned at the end of the course.  If you wait until the last minute on these assignments, you are not likely to do your best.

Students who have taken this class in the past have said, “This has been a terrific opportunity for me to focus on ME; but don’t take this course unless you are interested in and willing to look at yourself in a critical way.”

Professor contact information:  Glenn Detrick, phone number: 314-803-6135.  Email is Glenn.Detrick@gmail.com.   I will be happy to discuss any questions or problems you may have along the way by phone, email exchange or meeting.  The initiative in this course must be yours.  The course is for you; please DO take advantage of it.

Calendar Summary

Aug 30    First Class

Sept 1     Objectives due

Sept 11   First journal/assignment due

Sept 18   Frankl book review due

Sept 20   Second Class

Sept 25   Random Acts of Kindness assignment due

Oct 2      Second journal/assignment due

Oct 9      Goleman book review due

Oct 11    Third Class

Oct 16    Quotes Paper due

Oct 23    Third journal/assignment due

Oct 30    Covey book review due

Nov 1     Fourth Class

Nov 6     Organizational Culture paper or Individual Book Review due

Nov 20   Fourth journal/assignment due

Nov 22   Fifth class

Assignments are due via email by 5 p.m. on the dates indicated.   Any assignment may be submitted early, at any time.

Individual Book Review Possibilities

U87 – 435

  1. “Mindfulness:  Finding Peace in a Frantic World” by Williams and Penman

  1. “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

  1. “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Martin Seligman

  1. “The How of Happiness” by Sonya Lyvbomirsky

  1. “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle

  1. “Exuberance – The Passion for Life” by K.F. Jamison

  1. “Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness” by Susan Smilley

  1. “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers

  1. “Self Compassion:  Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind” by Kristen Neff

  1. “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell

  1. “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

  1. “Drive” by Daniel Pink

  1. “Give and Take” by Adam Grant

  1. “Choice Theory” by William Glasser

  1. “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

  1. “Life 101” by Peter McWilliams

  1. “Flow”, or anything by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

  1. Anything by or about the Dalai Lama, Buddhist Philosophy or Meditation

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list.  Other books of personal interest may also be considered.  Check with the professor if interested in reporting on a book not on this list.