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Dean's Corner

By Elizabeth H. Simmons, August 15, 2016

Entering a new year in Lyman Briggs College is a natural time for reflection on the purpose that brings us together. We are a residential community dedicated to teaching and learning about science in societal context. Each of us is supporting (as peers, mentors, educators) a new generation of scientist-citizens who will address the complex challenges of our increasingly global society.

With that in mind, perhaps each of us can take a moment to consider how we are aligning our efforts with our aspirations. I recently ran across a relevant New York Times essay "How to Live Wisely" by Richard J. Light, describing a freshman seminar course "Reflecting on Your Life" that he co-developed and teaches.

A core exercise that students undertake in the seminar asks them to take three steps. First, they write down "a list of how they want to spend their time at college." This might include any academic, co-curricular, social, athletic, artistic, or altruistic pursuits that are important to the individual. Then they are asked to journal how they have actually spent their time over the last week or so. Finally, they compare the lists. Some find congruence, others see dissonance. Reflection ensues.

In making our plans for the coming year, perhaps each of us can build in a few moments for this kind of checkpoint. Whether we are looking at our study schedules, research goals, course designs, or volunteer plans, we, the scholars and scientists of Lyman Briggs, can strive to be intentional about how we spend our time as individuals and a community.

Best wishes for the new academic year!


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