7 January 2019

Vocational Wayfinding (Distance)

“What am I to do with my life?” “Who am I?” There appears to be an inextricable connection between the work that we do and our sense of who we are. As the poet David Whyte has suggested, work is for all of us a pilgrimage of identity. It is not, however, a pilgrimage for which any of us are provided with a GPS device, allowing us to navigate in straight lines with comfortable certainty towards clear career objectives that cohere in obvious ways with an immutable sense of our identity. Instead, this pilgrimage is more like the experience of Polynesian sailors, who traversed the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean with the help of the stars, memory, and close attention to the patterns of the waves on the surface of the ocean as these reflected features of the ocean (including far-off islands). Polynesian wayfinding was a way of navigating that required alert improvisation and frequent reorientation from within a perpetually shifting context. Our vocational pilgrimages require of us to find our way in a similar manner.

In this course we will explore particular practices, frameworks, and tools, by means of which we can engage in vocational wayfinding. Prompted by our readings we will consider some of the relationships between work and identity: How does my work prompt my discovery of my sense of self? How do I try out possible selves in relation to whatever in the world is calling me toward particular kinds of work? What am I to do with my life? We will give close attention to those passages in our lives (in particular young adulthood and the middle passage of life) when both our work contexts and our experience of our identity are most obviously in flux. In addition, we will consider how to contribute skillful leadership and insightful mentoring to others as they engage in their own vocational wayfinding, particularly in the contexts of the workplace and educational institutions.

This is a thirteen-week all-online course, starting in the week of January 7 and finishing in the week of April 7. There will be no assignments due during ICS’s reading week, February 18 to 22. For participants doing the course or credit all outstanding work will be due by no later than May 24.

ICSD 132502/232502 W19
Dr. Gideon Strauss
Distance (Online)
(MWS, MA, PhD)

Syllabus