NEH Enduring Questions Grant: “Why Work?”

In 2011 I won a $25,000 Enduring Questions grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a course I called, “Why Work?” which addressed the meaning and value of work. The grant program (which has now been retired) “supports faculty members in the preparation of a new course on a fundamental concern of human life as addressed by the humanities.” My course immersed students in works of philosophy, poetry, scripture, theology, painting, economics, and film that all gave answers to the fundamental question about why we work.

Two signature projects that students undertook in the course involved viewing art objects pertaining to work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and interviewing a family member and someone working in the students’ planned career field about their work. For both projects, students responded to the objects and interviews in light of the theoretical sources they were studying.

Materials related to this project