Programs and Events

The Emory Purpose Project partners with programs, departments, and units across Emory’s campuses to provide opportunities and experiences for students related to ethics, purpose and meaning.


woman practicing yoga on a pier by the lake

Purpose Spring Break

During this five-day, off-campus retreat, students will intentionally set aside their regular routine and engage in self-directed activities that are not focused on their usual metrics of productivity, achievement or specific goals. Instead, students will have the opportunity to reflect and experience through unstructured time and group discussion. Inspired by the practice of "non-doing" or "stillness" as a mode of self-discovery, the Purpose Spring Break can lead to improved mindfulness, rest and recharging, creativity, focus and clarity, and decreased feeling of overwhelmingness.

students having a discussion

Tough Topics, Free Food and Civil Conversation

In this series organized by Emory University Libraries, the Center for Ethics and the Emory Purpose Project, students and faculty will discuss articles and op-eds from newspapers and magazines about culture and current events. Discussions will focus on assessing the author’s argument(s) and how those arguments impact the choices we make in our lives. While informed by academic study, conversations will be informal yet intellectual. The goal of this series is to develop the skills necessary to advance civil society and discourse in a meaningful way. Occurs monthly in the Center for Ethics.

Flourishing Chats logo

Flourishing Chats

Ira Bedzow, executive director of the Emory Purpose Project, is interested in hearing from students regarding how they think about meaning and success, and how their college experience is providing opportunities for their personal and professional growth. Discuss your interests, passions, wants and aspirations, as well as what could help you flourish at Emory and beyond.

Lullwater Park

Purpose Saunter

Interested in getting together as a small group of students, faculty, and staff from across the Emory community to enjoy a walk in Lullwater Park where you can reflect on questions related to what it means to “spend our time” and how we can "spend" it more intentionally? Ever consider whether comparing time to money is productive or not? Organize a "purpose saunter" today! Email Ira Bedzow or Lutfe-E-Noor Rahman for more information.

two students sitting across from each other in a discussion

Brewing Purpose

Professors from diverse disciplines gather with students for informal conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. Attendees can anticipate enjoying intellectual discourse and lasting connections that build a community and make the campus a place of curiosity and learning in all ways. Check out our calendar to see when we are meeting next!

dozens of students in a gym doing a yoga pose

Health 100

With new additions to the curricular modules focused on positive mental health, values, and character strengths, and developing one’s own health vision and goals, the signature Health 100 course seeks to give all first-year students not only the tools but the motivation to enhance their personal well-being.

faculty member writing equations on whiteboard

Purposeful Teaching Fellowship

The Purposeful Teaching Fellowship—sponsored by the Purpose Project and the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence—focuses on developing courses that support student learning and student flourishing. For students to flourish, faculty also need to flourish, and this fellowship is set up to provide a supportive environment for faculty to flourish in their teaching practices at Emory. It will help faculty consider what it means for students to flourish in a course and provide concrete strategies to promote this.

Talks and Workshops

Interested in scheduling any of these talks or are in you interested in another topic related to purpose, meaning, and flourishing? Reach out to us—we would love to connect!

Universities and large organizations are complex adaptive systems, in that:

  1. They consist of several heterogeneous agents/units, each of whom makes decisions about how to behave;
  2. The agents/units interact with one another;
  3. The interaction makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
  4. Moreover, the decisions of each agent/unit change over time. As such, specific solutions to any challenge are hard to identify and it is never sufficient simply to apply previous solutions to new problems.

The good news is that, while making good decisions may be hard, it is not impossible. In this talk, we will go through a methodology on how to make good decisions in such complex adaptive systems.

While anytime is a time to set goals, New Year's resolutions are extremely popular. However, they are also popularly abandoned. The truth of this is exemplified by Equinox, the high-end gym chain, which announced in 2023 that it would not accept new members on January 1 because people who join a gym on January 1 aren't serious about getting fit. In this talk, we will discuss the various challenges we all have in setting achievable goals and committing to them, as well as how we can overcome those challenges to live up to the standards that we want to set for ourselves.

This talk focuses on how to better incorporate (or make explicit) "purpose-oriented"
components into their curriculum. We will draw on the academic literature that informs what
purpose is, the benefits for students to engage in "purpose-oriented" learning activities and
approaches to create opportunities that allow students to discover and reflect on their own
sense(s) of purpose.

In this workshop, we will diagnose when challenges we face are systems-based or interpersonal, and practice how we can find our voice to speak to our values, prevent and/or mitigate obstacles to workflow, and establish expectations to create a positive working culture aligned with our mission.

Mentorship plays a crucial role in personal and professional development, offering a range of benefits for both mentors and mentees. It fosters learning, growth, and relationships that contribute to individual and organizational or communal success. It also provides a framework for the transfer of knowledge, the development of skills, and the cultivation of a support. This talk focus on what constitutes mentorship and how we can lean on our own experiences to mentor others well.

Research confirms what many of us know in our own lives: we're not great at predicting what will make us happy. Yet when we open ourselves to purpose and meaning, happiness and health also seem to come along. In this talk, we will demystify those big buzzword topics of happiness, well-being, and purpose, offering highlights and key takeaways from academic research. We'll propose strategies for how to incorporate purpose into one's daily routine.

Our current world has seen many failures of leadership, whether in the political, corporate, or social areas, and many have become cynical about whether ethical leadership is even possible today. In the talk, we will examine what ethical leadership means, what it entails, and how we can develop the skills that ethical leadership demands.

Living on purpose is correlated with health and happiness. We all need a reminder to focus on why it matters before how to make it happen — and some practical tools to integrate these big questions into our work with students. Demystify that big concept of purpose with a practical exercise to help keep our "why" front-and-center. Discover how you can live with purpose and create your own purpose roadmap to find your flow in mental and physical well-being.

Purpose is your destination and goals are the stepping-stones along the way. Yet all too often we forget why we’re doing what we’re doing when we’re so focused on meeting our success metrics. Understanding our meaning, our purpose and our goals (personally and professionally) won’t happen overnight, but through daily, small-steps exercises we can begin to notice patterns and demystify this often-daunting concept to ask why it matters and how to make it happen.

Purpose is key to resilience in times of uncertainty — but practically speaking, how do we put it into action in our everyday lives? This talk will demystify the concept of purpose, translate recent research into practical application and provide an actionable roadmap for students, faculty and administrators who seek to find their own personal purpose and encourage others on their journeys of meaning.

As the saying goes, money can’t buy happiness—but in modern America, we certainly try. We buy things, experiences, services, and, increasingly, advice on how to improve our happiness. The self-improvement industry is a more-than $12 billion business each year, and wellness and self-care are buzzwords associated with nearly every advertising campaign out there it seems. This talk provides an overview of the study of happiness and well-being, examines how consumers spend their dollars in pursuit of happiness, and explores the intersection of money and well-being and the emergence of the experience economy.

Connections matter — for success, for happiness and for meaningful thriving. This talk sets the stage for a conference to grow and serve the needs to a diverse community, putting people, place and purpose at the forefront of our minds. By weaving in concepts from human ecology — the study of how we intersect with our natural, built and social environments — and this talk explores the difference between EcoYou v. EgoYou approaches to happiness. You’ll leave the seminar with some new vocabulary and very "now" tips for more satisfying in-person interactions, a renewed sense of professional purpose and inspired to rekindle the community support we evolved to want and need.

Upcoming Events

Have an idea for a "Purpose Program" or want to organize an existing program for yourself, your club, class, unit, department, or team?