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Morrissey College of Arts and Science

UN564 The Last Lecture

capstone program

Amy LaCombe

Senior Lecturer, Carroll School of Management

Required Books

Heroic Living by Chris Lowney

A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik

Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland

Traveling Mercies Anne Lamott

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

How will you Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

A journal and a box of 25 thank-you notes

Objective of the Course

Portico’s main goal as a required course for incoming freshmen in the Carroll School of Management is to help students answer these three questions: How shall I live? How shall we work together? What kind of world should we shape? Those questions should not be examined solely in one’s first semester, but also in one’s last semester at Boston College by all students. Inherent in those questions is an underlying notion that there are tensions in the decisions we make in our lives. For example, a decision about accepting a type of job in a certain location will impact one’s family and friends. Another decision about the type of lifestyle one chooses affects one’s option with jobs. The goal of this course is to create an environment where graduating students are challenged to contemplate those three questions by examining some of the underlying themes that may cause tensions in their lives as they leave Boston College and make decisions. St. Ignatius developed the Examen so that Jesuits could be reflective and thus more intentional in their daily life, while they were busy working with people in education, social work and various other professions. Reflecting back on one’s life is critical to intentional living and to help guide people in answering those three important questions (above). The goal of this course is to help students reflect on their experience in the last 21+ years, and think about whom they are, why they are where they are and to examine the decisions they have made in the past. The hope is that through this reflection and thus delivery of a “Last Lecture” students will live a more intentional life upon graduation. The Examen also stresses gratitude in one’s reflection so that students can begin to realize that they are part of a larger community to which they have an obligation (questions 2 and 3 of Portico above). The Last Lecture is a way for students to have one final paper/speech that is a summary of many deep reflections and thoughts regarding the topics below. As each student gives their own Last Lecture, the rest of the class will offer an openness and empathy so that we too will be impacted by that student’s individual experience. According to Father Himes, listening and giving to others is the greatest gift we can give. “You discover your truth when you pass it along to others (Himes, 2008)”. The speech will be preserved with the use of social media and can be shown to those people who have been instrumental in the students’ lives which can be transformational, and it will be a reminder to the students as they make future decisions of the person they want to become (since it is preserved and can be viewed again). The Last Lecture is a way for students to regularly “check back in” with themselves and see if they are living and feeling the way they did when the speech was taped.


Attendance and participation - Mandatory

Thank you notes - Excel spreadsheet - 10%

Assignment #1 - 5%

Co-write a blog on a topic and then lead a weekly discussion (with one hand-out/article for everyone) on the assigned topic - 20%

Write a response (or present a counter point) to two Blog postings - 10%

Weekly quizzes on the readings and videos assigned - 20%

Daily examenss in a journal and a weekly one-page reflection on those examenss and a final reflection on all of the weekly examenss - 10%

Last Lecture, to be written and videotaped (it must be at least 25 minutes long and at least ten written pages) - 25%

Total - 100%

Topics, readings, and videos
To be read and watched PRIOR to class on that date

Week 1

Read Heroic Living by Chris Lowney over the winter break for class #1- introductions, the Examen and intentional living. The motivation for this course is my Last Lecture

Week 2

Gratitude and awareness of others- Read A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik; video clips &

Week 3

Friendship and material goods- The gift of yourself to others and listening; Father Himes’ Last Lecture http://frontrow/program/himes2/

Week 4

Our interconnectedness- The role of Faith and the strength of the human spirit by reading a story about two people- Read Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom Video:

Week 5

Your story (the past)- Read Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland chapters 1-5; video:  Assignment #1 due. Who gave of themselves to you to get you to this point (one page)?

Week 6

Finding your passions...What motivates you? What makes you tick inside today based on your past?  Read Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland chapters 6-10. Video  &

Week 7

The role of family Movie- Small, beautifully moving parts

Spring Break

Week 8

The role of others/friends and accepting differences: Read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott & How we learn about ourselves through others- who are we and how do we be loved/beloved?

Week 9

The role of language as love as you write your speech- Read Handout from Writing the Sacred Journey by Elizabeth Andrew & The Last Lecture by Mary Joe Hughes

Week 10

Your last Lecture- Read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and watch The Last Lecture: Achieving your childhood dreams

Week 11

Last Lectures (four per class)

Week 12

Last Lectures (four per class)

Easter Break

Week 13

Last Lectures (four per class)

Week 14

Last Lectures (four per class)

Final Class and celebration!

Taking time to evaluate your decisions and continue the Examen- Read Part One and Part Three of How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen.