26th Annual Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education Meeting
Stanislav Vavilov (Fairfield University), Matthew Regele (Xavier University), Regina Kim (Fairfield University)
Teaching Wellbeing, Happiness, and Meaning in Life at the graduate-level in Jesuit Business Schools.
Courses based on positive psychology are a growing trend in higher education. Universities have devoted increasing attention to teaching students about happiness, wellbeing, and meaningfulness. Courses focusing on these topics have become popular with students. In addition to courses that consider these topics with respect to life in general, business schools increasingly help students recognize their relevance to the workplace. As a result, topics such as the meaning of work, career satisfaction, and the relationship between meaning and employee motivation are increasingly being addressed in MBA courses on leadership, management, and entrepreneurship. These courses draw upon organizational and psychological research to provide business students with tools to craft meaningful jobs and cultivate positive work identity. Jesuit Universities’ missions have allowed them to become leaders on issues like happiness, spirituality, and positivity. Students are often exposed to this expertise in theology and philosophy classes. Yet, these courses mostly exist at the undergraduate level. Little is known about teaching meaningfulness, satisfaction, and wellbeing at graduate programs in Jesuit Business Schools (JBSs). In this article, we address this gap. Specifically, we highlight the potential value of adding a stand-alone course on Happiness, Meaning, and Wellbeing to JBSs’ MBA curriculum. We argue that this course should focus on four core goals: 1) developing a broad philosophical understanding of happiness and wellbeing; 2) articulating Jesuit perspectives on these concepts; 3) highlighting the relevance and potential implications to organizations and work, such as job crafting, meaningfulness, and satisfaction; and 4) providing practical tools for students to use in their future careers. This work can also contribute to developing Jesuit Business Schools as positive psychology institutions.