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IDIS 473 Designing Your Life After Queen's

 Winter 2023 (Online)
 Year 4 Optional Course
 9-10 hours/week
 3 units
On-Campus Course
Online Course

Dr. Cheryl Cline

The Designing Your Life After Queen’s course uses design thinking to help students from any program plan their life and career after graduation. Developed by Stanford University and offered at schools across North America, this course draws on the fields of philosophy, psychology and career counselling to help you align your personal values with your academic interests, career ambitions and desire for social impact. You will learn to use a design process to create career plans from conception to implementation, explore how career choices can contribute to positive social change, and create prototype experiments that will move you closer to your goals. The course also addresses the realities of engaging in the contemporary workplace and introduces practices that support career development over the long term. Due to the personalized nature of the assignments, this course uses a pass/fail grading system.


Not open to students in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Minimum 4th year (level 4) standing, or permission of the instructor

After completing IDIS 473, learners will be able to:

  1. Articulate coherent philosophies of life and work to guide their future education and career choices.
  2. Understand the impact of sociocultural factors on their professional identity and career.
  3. Use design theory and a framework to evaluate options and create plans to achieve their educational and career goals.
  4. Employ career development methods to position their education, work experience and background in an educational setting or job field of their choice.
  5. Present a post-graduation education or career vision and next steps for moving forward.

Grading System

This course is designed to guide and accompany students as they plan their life and career after graduation. Because integration of individual interests, values and goals is an essential part of all assignments, grades are awarded on a pass/fail basis, using process criteria only. Students must achieve a passing grade on all assignments in order to receive a passing grade in the course. Grading rubrics will be provided for each assignment.

Assignment 1 – Worldview and Workview Assignment

For this assignment, students begin to connect who they are, what they believe and what they plan to do for work. Using assigned readings, guide questions and structured interviews with family members and friends, students will prepare a Worldview statement that defines what matters most to them in key areas of living, and a Workview statement that articulates the set of values they will use to decide what work is good for them and what may not be. These philosophies of life and work will serve as touchstone documents when building their Odyssey plans and students will share them with one other person in their small groups.

Assignment 2 – Social Identity Reflection

For this assignment, students will complete readings, fill out a social identity matrix and respond to a series of reflection questions about their discoveries. The matrix includes a list of social group markers and a set of prompts to promote clarity about how aspects of identity may influence views and values related to work, life and success, and what underlying narratives might be informing different approaches to career design. While the matrix exercise is completed privately, students will have the opportunity to share insights about the exercise experience within their small groups. After the group discussion, students will submit responses to wrap-up questions that form the basis of their assessment and direct their attention back to their initial Worldview and Workview statements.

Assignment 3 – Odyssey Plans Presentation

For this assignment, students will apply design thinking methods to create 3 substantially different 5-year plans that include both personal and professional milestones. Students will also apply criteria to assess their viability and alignment with Work and Worldviews. Students will present all three plans to their small groups. As part of their presentation, students will share their 3 plans in graphic timelines with accompanying written descriptions, using templates provided. When in the “audience” role, students will use reflective listening and questioning techniques to help the presenter develop the clarity they need to choose one of their three Odyssey plans as their preferred path moving forward.

Assignment 4 – E-Portfolio

Using an online platform selected from a list of options, students will apply what they learned about how to communicate their skills in language that employers use, create compelling stories, compose key messages, and design effective cover letters, resumes and work samples by preparing an e-portfolio that can be shared with future employers and education programs.

Assignment 5 – Individual Development Plan

Using an Individual Development Plan tool provided, students will identify, describe and prioritize their goals for the six months following course completion, based on their preferred Odyssey plan. The tool will also help students determine specific steps needed to attain their goals, track their progress, reflect on, and make iterative adjustments to their plan as it evolves over time. The tool prompts students to take into account their strengths while also considering what knowledge and skills they may still need to acquire for their chosen education or career path.

Assignment 6 – Course Engagement

Regular participation is critical to success in this course. Because important learning takes place cumulatively through small group activities and discussions, class absences affect not just the individual but also their group. Class attendance, punctuality, preparation and active participation are therefore mandatory expectations and students will be asked to sign a course covenant acknowledging these priorities. Students are allowed one class absence in the course, not including any formal accommodation arrangements.

Students can expect to spend approximately 9-10 hours a week (108-120 hours per term) in study/practice and doing in-class and online activities for IDIS 473.

Required Texts

Burnett W. and Evans D.J. (2015). Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

Course Reading Package