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Life on Purpose: Insights on well-being and education from Ira Bedzow, PhD, Executive Director of the Emory Purpose Project

Purpose and meaning are foundational to any definition of the good life. They are also a trendy topic these days. Like all trendy topics, they risk being trivialized by our intense hunger for easy answers to life’s difficulties. Enter Ira Bedzow, PhD, Executive Director of the Emory Purpose Project, one of the signature elements of the University’s Student Flourishing Initiative. In this podcast, Dr. Bedzow provides an inspiring, holistic, and challenging take on how to bring the power of purpose into our lives and educational systems. We learn that purpose starts not with answers but rather with questions that help identify our deeper, unique motivations for doing what we want to do in life and whether our chosen goals actually satisfy these motivations. We discuss purpose as one’s self-defined long-term life intention that is both meaningful and impactful, that will guide one’s decisions, behavior, and goals, that will provide a sense of direction, and help infuse life with a sense of meaning. This definition points to the fact that purpose, properly understood, is integral to all aspects of human life, including education. This perspective has pragmatic implications for college education that form the bedrock of the Emory Purpose Project. Rather than seeing purpose as an add-on that can be cordoned off into a separate class, Dr. Bedzow outlines a vision that seeks to infuse purpose-based analyses and perspectives into the entire spectrum of university disciplines.

In addition to his role as Executive Director of the Emory Purpose Project, Ira Bedzow is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, a core faculty member of Emory’s Center for Ethics, a senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, and the unit head of the International Chair in Bioethics at Emory University.

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