New course seeks to tackle big questions of the ‘good life’

Next Spring semester, the Religion Department will offer Baldwin Wallace students a new course, “Meaning, Memoir & the Good Life,” which will be taught by John Gordon, associate professor of religion.
Preparation for a new course has entered the final stage, he said, though is not yet official. Since the course will count as a part of core curriculum, it will need to be approved by the committee before the course can be officially approved for the core education.
However, “Meaning, Memoir & the Good Life” is not a completely new course for the religion department.
“I have taught a version of this course before. It was just called a ‘Spiritual Memoir,” said Gordon. “That was the origin of this course. We read and discussed a variety of spiritual memoirs written obviously by different people and different backgrounds.”
He said he felt the need for improvement of the course by spending more time looking at the bigger question about the meaning and purpose, and what constitutes a good life.
In this new course, he is going to combine reading and discussion on those larger questions and connect those with several different spiritual memoirs.
Since “Meaning, Memoir & the Good Life” will spend time learning how other people thought and wrote about the large questions, the course will help students explore how these different writers answer those questions, Gordon said.
Moreover, students will explore their own lives, with focus on the challenges they faced, how they came to understand the meaning and purpose of their own lives, and what a life would look like based on their experiences.
With consideration for core requirements, the Religion Department already has several courses that fulfill the meaning and purpose designation since many of religion courses are designed for students’ spiritual growth. The new course would be a positive addition, said Ellen Posman, Chair, Religion Department Associate Professor,
“However, especially in the case of new course, ‘Meaning, Memoir & the Good Life’ it is the own decision of professor John Gordon, trying to connect the work he has done before with reading spiritual memoirs, making students on the session know about what it means to live a good life and develop their own sense of value,” she said.
Posman stressed the importance of faculty’s constant effort on enhancing the quality of teaching and developing faculty themselves.
“I think it is really important for professors to continue to develop themselves,” she said. “And as they get interested in a particular topic or if they have an idea for what will be beneficial for student learning, I think it’s my job to encourage faculty members to develop those courses.”