Washington University Syllabus

Individual and Organizational Introspection

U87-435 Course Syllabus 

Washington University

Fall 2018


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 basisand in consultation with the professor. Class sessions will be from 5:15 – 6:15 pm on the following Tuesdays:  Aug 28, Sept 18, Oct 9 & 30, Nov 20. 

The primary outcome objective of this courseis for students to systematicallythink aboutandevaluatethemselves 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 applicationof 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 Aug 30.

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 whichideas 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 do not submit just bullet points; provide some context for each objective); for the book reviews, 2-3 double-spaced pages each.Frankl book review is due Sept 16,Goleman book review is due Oct 7, Covey reviewis dueOct 28 (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 for each of four journals/assignments, Due via email on Sept 9 & 30, Oct 21, Nov 11)

Throughout the term, come back to your objectivesand comment regarding how you are (or are not) progressing on each one. This is an actionassignment.  I want to know what you are DOING with regard to your objectives. 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. Also, describe how you are using the principles described in the Frankl, Goleman and Covey books as you get to them andwrite three positive affirmations about your life.  (For examples, see last page of this syllabus.)

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

Additional assignmentsto complete and be submitted with your journals:

With Journal #1:  Ask three people who know you well for candidfeedback 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.

Summarizewhat you learn from your interviews (do notgive me detail about what each

person specifically said).

With Journal #2:  Write a brief eulogy that could be given at your funeral.  At the end of the day, how do you want to be remembered?  In other words, what are/were your life priorities?

With Journal #3:  Write a Vision Statement for yourself, going forward.  Indicate what you intend to focus on as priorities and how you intend to live 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 when this class is over.



3. Random Acts of Kindness:  25 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 23)



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 14)



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 18)

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

Begin by interviewing a minimum of 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 youevaluate 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?

f)    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.
  2. The second, third and fourth class sessions are designed to provide an opportunity to discuss with other students 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 all students in the class.
  3. 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 from the course 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 willnotbe 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 viewif 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.


Thoughts to Consider


“Know Thyself” ………… Socrates

“Be ye lamps unto yourself” and “I am enlightened through my own efforts, without any teacher. Through practice I come to realize something for myself. One is enlightened by oneself.”  The Buddha

“In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate”, Rene Descartes

“I sing myself and celebrate myself”, Walt Whitman

“Yesterday I was clever, I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi


                                                                                      Calendar Summary

Aug 28   First Class

Aug 30   Objectives due

Sept 9     First journal and assignments due

Sept 16   Frankl book review due

Sept 18   Second Class

Sept 23   Random Acts of Kindness assignment due

Sept 30   Second journal and assignments due

Oct 7      Goleman book review due

Oct 9      Third Class

Oct 14    Quotes Paper due

Oct 21    Third journal and assignments due

Oct 28    Covey book review due

Oct 30    Fourth Class    

Nov 11   Fourth journal and assignments due

Nov 18   Organizational Culture paper or Individual Book Review due

Nov 20   Fifth class

Assignments are due via email by 5 p.m. on the dates indicated.   Any assignment may be submitted early, at any time.  If you don’t want to spend weekends doing your papers, that’s fine – you are welcome to turn them in earlier in the week. Beginning with the first journal, papers received 24 or more hours before they are due (i.e, by 5 pm on Saturdays) will receive one bonus point (+1).  Papers received late will be penalized, based on how late they are.


Individual Book Review Possibilities


  1. “Mindfulness:  Finding Peace in a Frantic World” by Williams and Penman
  2. “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
  3. “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Martin Seligman
  4. “The How of Happiness” by Sonya Lyvbomirsky
  5. “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle
  6. “Exuberance – The Passion for Life” by K.F. Jamison
  7. “Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness” by Susan Smilley
  8. “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers
  9. “Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind” by K. Neff
  10. “The Road to Character” by David Brooks
  11. “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
  12. “Drive” by Daniel Pink
  13. “Give and Take” by Adam Grant
  14. “Choice Theory” by William Glasser
  15. “Lean In:  Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg
  16. “Option B:  Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” by S. Sandberg
  17. “Plenty Ladylike:  A Memoir” by Claire McCaskill
  18. “Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain
  19. “Life 101” by Peter McWilliams
  20. “Flow”, or anything by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  21. Anything by or about the Dalai Lama, Buddhist Philosophy or Meditation

This is notintended 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.


Example Affirmations

1.) I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.

2.) Today, I am brimming with energy and overflowing with joy.

3.) My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.

4.) I am superior to negative thoughts and low actions.

5.) I have been given endless talents, which I begin to utilize today.

6.) I forgive those who have harmed me in my past and peacefully detach from them.

7.) A river of compassion washes away my anger and replaces it with love.

8.) I am guided in my every step by Spirit who leads me towards what I must know and do.

9.) My relationships are becoming stronger, deeper, and more stable each day.

10.) I possess the qualities needed to be successful.

11.) I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul. (“Invictus”)

12.) Creative energy surges through me and leads me to new and inspired ideas.

13.) Happiness is a choice. I base my happiness on my own accomplishments and the blessings I’ve been given.

14.) My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite.

15.) (For those who are unemployed) I deserve to be employed and paid well for my time, efforts, and ideas. Each day, I am closer to finding the perfect job for me.

16.) I am courageous and I stand up for myself.

17.) My thoughts are filled with positivity and my life is plentiful with prosperity.

18.) Today, I abandon my old habits and take up new, more positive ones.

19.) Many people look up to me and recognize my worth; I am admired.

20.) I am blessed with an incredible family and wonderful friends.

21.) I acknowledge my own self-worth; my confidence is soaring.

22.) Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good.

23.) I am a powerhouse; I am indestructible.

24.) Though these times are difficult, they are only a short phase of life.

25.) My future is an ideal projection of what I envision now.

26.) My efforts are being supported by the universe; my dreams manifest into reality before my eyes.

27.) My spirituality comes from within; I am in control of what I think and feel.

28.) I radiate beauty, charm, and grace.

29.) I am conquering my illness; I am defeating it steadily each day.

30.) My obstacles are moving out of my way; my path is going in a positive direction.

31.) I wake up today with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind.

32.) My fears of tomorrow are simply melting away; most of what we fear never happens.

33.) I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen.

34.) My life is going forward from today – and I get to decide my destiny.

35.) I get to createwho I am and who/what I will be.  How fortunate I am!

You can utilize any of these affirmations or create your own, based on your personal wishes, needs, circumstances and creative thinking.

Most of the above suggestions come, with attribution, from Dr. Carmen Harra