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Overview

This┬áterm we will be reading Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, reflecting on his arguments, and applying his ideas to our work experiences. Crawford’s book is an engaging, provocative argument about the meaning of work in modern society.His ideas should both excite and challenge you. Indeed, you may find that much of what he says is simply a smarter, more theoretically informed version of ideas and feelings you yourself have had. But at other times, you’ll find him completely wrongheaded. No matter your response, however, Crawford’s book serves as an excellent starting point to begin thinking more deeply about the kinds of work experiences you’ve had, the kind of job you really want, and the kind of manager, boss, or CEO you want to be. Whether you agree or disagree, engaging with Crawford’s text will force you reflect on your own experiences in a productive and meaningful way.

Throughout the book, Crawford will ask you to think not only about your co-op experiences, but also about the purpose of education (including the goal of grades) and your relationship with the things you own. These questions are all interconnected in a way that illuminates the relationship between agency, material reality, and our own sense of worth.

I’m hoping that Crawford’s text engages you with big questions, provides a framework for thinking deeply about your work experiences, and encourages you to expect more out of your co-op, your classes, and yourself. Good luck.

Learning Objectives

Over the course of this work term, you will do the following:

  • explore the possibilities of — and social and technological barriers to — meaningful work.
  • acquire a rich set of conceptual frameworks for understanding, discussing, and evaluating the ethical dimensions of meaningful work.
  • employ those concepts in written reflective appraisals of your co-op experiences, specifically assessing the value of your co-op’s work task, management structure, and products.
  • identify strategies for discovering, expanding, and creating opportunities for meaningful work, both as an employee and as an employer.

Weekly Units (click on banner image to access units)

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