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Designing Your Life, ME104B

Stanford Design Program
I. Course

ME104B, Designing Your Life, (

Open to Jeniors and Seniors; limited enrollment (dependent on space and staff)

Department: Design Program, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford School of Engineering

Partners: VPSA/CDC, VPUE

II. Instructors

Bill Burnett, Executive Director, Stanford Design Program,

o, ph: 650-280-0098, Bldg 550
o Office hours: signup online

Dave Evans, Lecturer, Stanford Design Program

o, ph: 408-857-1903
o Office hours: Wed - Thurs, signup online
III. Location, Times
Varies by quarter. Check Explore Courses.

IV. Course Description

The course uses design thinking to address the wicked problem of designing your life and career.
This class offers a framework, tools, and most importantly a place and a community of peers and
mentors where well work on these issues through assigned readings, reflections, and in-class
exercises. The course employs a design thinking approach to help students from any major navigate
the challenges of their twenty-something Odyssey Years and develop a constructive and effective
approach to finding and designing their vocation after Stanford.
The course incorporates basic instruction in an introduction to design thinking and particularly a design
point of view. Further, we provide a framework that organizes the content elements of the course,
including the integration of work and worldview, the realities of engaging the workplace, and practices
that support vocation formation throughout your life. The course deals with issues ranging from how to
find and experience meaning-making in work to how to network and get an interview. The course will
include seminar-style discussions, role-playing, short writing assignments, guest speakers, and
individual mentoring and coaching. Small group dialogue will be held in regular sections comprised of a
group of student peers, all managing their transition from university to first career.
Open only to Juniors and Seniors; space limited. If over-subscribed, final admission to the course will
be communicated via emails to students registered in Axess.
V. Course Objectives
Course objectives are to assist students to:

Learn an essential overview of design thinking and a design point of view.

Learn a framework that supports vocation development, now and in the future.

Acquire methods for discovering and designing career and life.

Develop a concept of a coherent, successful life to guide career choices.

Clearly position their education and background in the marketplace (or govt, or ).

Integrate their career experiences with their own vocational vision.

Develop a preliminary post-graduation plan/vision (Odyssey Years Plan)

VI. Assignments

Class discussions, In-class exercises

Syllabus, Designing Your Life, ME104B (v5).doc

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Homework: readings, reflective writing assignments, information interviews, Odyssey Plan

VII. Grading and Auditing

2 unit, Pass/Fail

Requirements: full class participation (1 excused non-emergent absence), homework assignments;

minimum of 1 office hrs. appt., Odyssey Plan
o NOTE: Regular participation is critical to course success. Since much of the most important
work is done is section groups, class absences affect not only the individual but the entire
section group as it maintains an ongoing and cumulative conversation. Students will be
asked to sign a course covenant acknowledging this priority.

Auditing not allowed. Full course participation not-for-credit rarely allowed (case-by-case basis).

VIII. Materials and Reading

In class materials
o Articles, book excerpts, poems
o Audio and video clips
o Course notes, handouts, slides

Reading assignments posted on Courseworks,

Readings taken from the following (not comprehensive list):

o Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for
Lasting Fulfillment by Martin Seligman
o Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning,
Purpose, and Faith by Sharon Daloz Parks
o Cool Careers for Dummies by Marty Nemko
o Finding a Job You Can Love by Ralph T. Mattson and Arthur F. Miller
o Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
o Flow - the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
o Good Work by E.F. Schumacher
o Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life by Robert N. Bellah,
Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, and Ann Swidler
o Ode to Things from Odes to Common Things, Bilingual Edition (Hardcover), by Pablo
Neruda (Author), Ferris Cook (Illustrator), Ken Krabbenhoft
o Still Life With Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy by Mark Doty
o Transitions: Making Sense of Lifes Changes by William Bridges
o Walden by Henry David Thoreau
o What Color is Your Parachute 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and CareerChangers, by Richard Bolles
o What Should I Do with My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate
Question, by Po Bronson
o Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,
by Studs Terkel
o Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe
o The Odyssey Years, David Brooks, article, October 9th, 2007 New York Times

Questions? Go to Coursework or, or contact the instructors.

Syllabus, Designing Your Life, ME104B (v5).doc

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Here are the course objectives shown the way we present them in class:

Syllabus, Designing Your Life, ME104B (v5).doc

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