It is 4:00 p.m. on a Friday in Fulton 310. The lights are soft, and the whispery vocals of British singer-songwriter James Bay (“Let it Go”) are playing in the background. Twenty first-year students are at their desks in the small classroom. Some are writing steadily in their journals. Others are pausing, pen to lip or chin resting on one hand.
The first-semester students in Professor Ethan Sullivan’s Portico class are not taking a test. They are engaging in a version of “the Examen,” a centuries-old Jesuit meditation. At the start of class each Friday, the students jot down their thoughts about what they’re grateful for and what went right or wrong during the week. They end by setting personal goals or considering what they ought to do in the coming week.
“A lot of people would be surprised to see that this is going on in a business school,” Sullivan points out in a subsequent conversation.