Your task for this paper: The goal is to take some time to reflect on where you are in the arc of your life, starting with the present quality of your soul (in the Aristotelian sense) and, from there, to sketch out a path toward reaching your full potential as a virtuous business leader. Your discussion should incorporate important ideas from class, integrating them into a coherent plan consistent with an Aristotelian analysis. Ideally, this writeup will be a valuable reference for future reflection. To be clear, your primary goal is to demonstrate your grasp of the course content by applying it in an authentic way to your own situation.
Generating content for your paper: Below is a list of questions that may be useful in guiding your self-appraisal. You are not required to answer all these questions, they are suggestions intended to help you in constructing your narrative – use those that best facilitate the points you wish to make.
What are your “signature” virtues – in what areas do you have a reliable capacity to consistently identify and implement good acts (i.e., that lead to your own human flourishing)? In what professional areas do you consider yourself to be a role model and why? What about your vices – in what areas do you have a stable tendency to make choices that hinder your progress? What about those areas in which your choices are inconsistent?
Are there business people, either that you know or in the public light, that you look to as exemplars of virtuous professionalism?
What experiences from the class exercises were especially memorable to you? What lessons did you learn?
What lessons from lectures, readings, and/or class discussion had their biggest impact on you? Why? What did you find particularly surprising?
In what ways (if any) has this course changed the way that you think about achieving happiness?
Does your discussion reflect insight into how you will incorporate the basic elements of effective leadership into your approach to management, given the context of your industry/functional aspirations?
How does your business vocation integrate into your life experience overall?
How well do you relate to the concepts discussed in the course?
What kind of leader do you aspire to become and what steps will you take to ensure that you get there?
Do you aspire to create, lead, and/or become a member of a virtuous organization? If so, what features pop out as most important when you imagine it?
Paper Structure: Papers should be structured as described below. Your paper will be treated as a confidential document:
The paper should be broken into two main parts: (i) An authentic reflection of where you stand today with respect to realizing your full potential as a virtuous leader (~1750 words, or about 70%); and (ii) A discussion about which virtues are especially important for you to acquire to realize the goal of becoming a virtuous leader, including a concrete plan on how you hope to develop them (~750 words, or 30%).
Supporting, illustrating, and refining your discussion with examples from our synchronous discussions along with citations from the course material will make your paper better and be appreciated by your future self. Formal content used to support your points — the book (Sachs, 2002), lecture notes, the teaching note, and podcasts — should be footnoted. Citations to formal content should be placed at the end of the paper (not bottom-of-page) and do not count against the word limit. Use an established reference format. Do not include supporting content that was not covered in class.
Grading Criteria: I will assess your paper according to the criteria described below. This is a qualitative piece, which will be qualitatively assessed. The four fundamental criteria that I will apply to your work – and the relative importance I will place on each – is:
Analysis (roughly, 45% weight): Aristotle provides a detailed framework for assessing where we are on our paths to flourishing as fully realized human beings and how to get there. Ultimately, our professional vocations should be fully integrated into our lives, contributing to our human development and fulfillment. Proper application of his framework should be central to your discussion. Do not use up your word limit simply restating Aristotle’s philosophy. Your goal is to demonstrate your understanding of the framework by applying it to yourself. You want to help me evaluate both your mastery of the material and what you got out of the course.
Insight (roughly, 25% weight): Describe the insights that arose as a result of the class and how these influenced your thinking about your development as a virtuous leader. Insight helps me evaluate your grasp of what makes for a virtuous leader and how this relates to your journey toward managerial excellence.
Distinctiveness (roughly, 10% weight): In sketching out your path to happiness, discuss distinctive methods by which you might develop the specific virtues that are most relevant to you. The more concrete and authentic you are, the more naturally distinctive your paper will be. Distinctiveness helps me evaluate your ability to apply Aristotle’s framework — to come up with distinctive insights and analyses that would be unavailable from superficial understanding.
Exposition (roughly, 20% weight): Clarity, logical consistency, and brevity are crucial. Poor exposition detracts from effective communication, and thus undermines your work.
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