Charming Alumni Review article.

“Composing a Life: Finding Success and Balance in Life After Williams” [is] a Winter Study course that since 1996 has asked students to approach their future careers from the perspective of the kind of life they seek. In the end, it’s as much about posing questions as it is about finding answers.

“Composing a Life” is the brainchild of Chip and Michele Moeller Chandler, both Class of 1972, who designed the course around lessons learned in their own lives.

Case studies and lectures are further supported by readings that run the gamut from wry contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton (The Consolations of Philosophy) to popular New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (The World is Flat) to bestselling author Peggy Orenstein (Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Kids, Love, and Life in a Half-Changed World), not to mention past convocation addresses by Toby Cosgrove ’62 and Glenn Lowry ’76. The unique, Williams-specific flavor of “Composing a Life” is reflected in an assignment requiring students to peruse class notes from past Williams alumni magazines and circle lives they find appealing. Students then are asked to consider what appeals to them about these people, what the common aspects of their lives are and what can be learned from their stories.

The course concludes with a 10-page paper based on field interviews with adults of the students’ choosing as well as their own reflections on the course. Some talk to their own parents, while others reach out to friends, professors, mentors or community leaders.

Great stuff. The Chandlers ought to put the syllabus and readings on-line, along with some of the best papers. Perhaps we should collaborate with them on next year’s CGCL.

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