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“This is the first class that actually taught me how to be a human.”

Through a new general education course, Bethel is doing more than equipping students with life skills—it’s helping students attain wellbeing that aims for wholeness as they strive for shalom.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

March 12, 2019 | 9 a.m.

Intro to Wellbeing

Participation is a key part of Intro to Wellbeing. Peer facilitators help drive discussions and activities in the course to promote interactive learning. Students often spend class time engaging in activities like floor puzzles or learning stress-reduction techniques.

If someone wakes up in the morning and can’t answer “Why do I exist?” then his or her wellbeing will suffer, says Wellbeing Director Christine Osgood. “There’s a lot that influences your wholeness, your thriving, and we want you to see and learn this stuff at the beginning of your college career,” she says.

That’s just one of the questions students tackle in Intro to Wellbeing, one of Bethel’s newest required general education courses. The class equips students with essential life skills through a comprehensive exploration of a person’s overall wellbeing and what influences it.

Osgood and her students go beyond wellness and health. “We start off the class trying to help the students understand that we’re shooting for something more than just wellness,” Osgood says. “We’re aiming for wellbeing that would be wholeness and thriving within and between people that echoes the Hebrew construct of shalom.”

Bethel added Intro to Wellbeing, along with Inquiry Seminar, at the start of the 2017-18 school year as part of a plan to reduce the number of general education courses. Previously, incoming students took four required courses: College Writing, Physical Wellness for Life, Introduction to the Liberal Arts, and a course about the nature of humanity. A Bethel team encapsulated the key objectives of the courses into two new classes that set students up for success in college and in life. These new courses were designed to dig deeper, both academically and spiritually.

Out of all my classes, it was definitely the one that had the most real-life applications.

— David Pirrie ’21, peer facilitator for the class

Intro to Wellbeing focuses on six key aspects of life and humanness: cognitive, emotional, spiritual, physical, relational, and meaning. These are interconnected and influence each other, and Osgood teaches students how a multitude of factors go into treating their souls’ wellbeing. “We’re trying to expand their horizons with understanding who are you as a human being and what influences you,” she says.

The class provides students with practical steps to improve their wellbeing. And the approach is academic, not therapeutic. It focuses on neuroscience and what affects people’s brains and central nervous systems. Then the aim is to give students tools and approaches to build up resilience and inner reserve. Part of the course teaches five core dialogue skills, which Osgood describes as the rules of the road for communication, so that way there are parameters in place to try and use them in life.

As peer facilitators, Emma Boley ’21 and David Pirrie ’21 led discussion groups and helped students be engaged in class. “Because the things that you learn are going to stick with you for the rest of your life if you’re willing to engage the information,” Boley says.

Both note the lessons of Bethel’s Intro to Wellbeing need to be implemented in daily life as students learn how to care for themselves and grow. Pirrie recalls a 30-day sleeping challenge where students strove to sleep a consistent number of hours while waking at the same time each day. He still tries to implement naps into his day after discussion rest and sleep. “Out of all my classes, it was definitely the one that had the most real-life applications,” Pirrie says.

He calls it one of the most fun classes he’s taken. He felt motivated to do the work because of the real-world applications. “Everything you’re learning is actually beneficial to yourself,” he says. “No matter what major you are, this stuff is going to help.”

Christine Osgood

Wellbeing Director Christine Osgood teaches Intro to Wellbeing, a general education course that helps students build essential life

Intro to Wellbeing is taught through a flipped classroom model that requires students to learn the material by reading articles and watching videos before class, which allows them to then apply or discuss the materials in class.

But this format helps teach students time-management skills and it fuels discussions and activities, Boley notes. Osgood strives for active learning during class time that includes engaging in activities like floor puzzles, discussions, or learning stress-reduction techniques. Dialogue and discussion are a big part of the class, as students are expected to discuss the materials with their peers.

Bethel’s Christian faith also permeates the course. Osgood says students are challenged to consider that God has invited His people to join Him in the renewal and restoration of this world. The Wellbeing at Bethel homepage uses the Healing at the Pool in John 5 as an example: “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” The site goes on to pose a question: “How are you willing to invest in order to join Jesus in his process of transformation for your life and the life of our community?”

In the class, students first explore how they connect with the Holy Spirit and how their faith in Christ develops over time. And as students learn how to care for their own wellbeing, they are encouraged to see how they can positively impact those around them. “In essence, we are to be about God's kingdom coming here on earth as it is in heaven,” Osgood says.

Intro to Wellbeing

Bethel’s Intro to Wellbeing course helps students build essential life skills through a comprehensive exploration of a person’s overall wellbeing and what influences it. Bethel added Intro to Wellbeing, along with Inquiry Seminar, at the start of the 2017-18 school year as part of a plan to reduce the number of general education courses.

The class has been well received with students, and some upperclassmen who took the previous general education track have signed up for the course. With each semester, Osgood adapts the class to improve the student experience. Students have given the class strong reviews. Of the roughly 290 students who took the course in fall 2018, 229 completed a post-course survey. Ninety-nine percent agreed or strongly agreed it was useful to apply the material learned in the class in their daily lives, while 97% agreed or strongly agreed that they needed to learn the material in the class, and 94% agreed or strongly agreed that their wellbeing will be positively affected by lessons from the class.

“I found that wellbeing is way more than just being healthy,” one student wrote in a review of the course. “Wellbeing is a way of life. It is important and even essential to the Shalom God invites us to live in.”

“This is the first class that actually taught me how to be a human,” another student wrote.
Intro to Wellbeing

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