Date of Completion

Fall 12-22-2016

Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Jeremy Szteiter


In recent years, certain events made me question the lack of training and preparation that many young adults have as they unsteadily exit high school (and even college) unable, and sometimes unwilling, to make real life/real world decisions.

This paper explores my journey through a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts - Boston in Critical and Creative Thinking, ending with a fully realized template for a brand new college 100/200 level course, tentatively titled: Philosophy: Making Better Decisions.

I start with the specific impetus that set me on my path: a “rotten decision” made by three co-workers that collided into my life, and how that event set me on the course of wanting to explore possible solutions towards better decision-making.

My two-year journey came to include using each of my thirteen master’s classes as a framework from which I could better understand how we humans make decisions, critically, creatively, mentally, philosophically, in counseling and teaching, and as a student -- always looking and learning with a fresh approach. This post-graduate work of investigations, readings, and coursework brought me from insulted to inspired. My goal towards understanding decision-making soon became a quest to design an entirely new thirty-two class, one-semester college course, putting a modern and entirely fresh practical twist on teaching a decision making class. Decision-making is not exclusive to any one religion, nor to any one section of the commercial world. Yet the halls of academia endlessly couples decision-making with either a strict spiritual foundation or the corporate business world, along with a smattering of classes specifically for the likes of the medical profession, war strategists, foreign policy makers, public health officials, lawyers, and mathematicians.

Under the heading of the “Philosophy,” most colleges hold steady with their tried-and-true introductory classes on classical logic, values, reality, religion, and knowledge. In their goal to combine any of these basic curriculums with critical thinking skills, institutions usually teach via long lectures behind a lectern. These traditional courses allow little-to-no time to explore and integrate everyday skills into philosophy. This leaves students open to questions like: How do emotions help and/or hinder my ability to choose? What roles do critical and creative thinking play? What are options for generating possibility? How does self-awareness help? What is “The Big Picture?” What communication skills do I need? Do I have a cognitive bias? How do I know what questions to ask? Is reflection important? What does it mean to avoid distortions? How do I use evaluation skills? How does stress factor into decisions? Who sets the ground rules? What is individual vs. groupthink? What’s a paradox? How do I decide between right and right? How do I start to handle delicate subjects in the broader methodology of practical life decision-making?

My project combines my belief in the necessity for a real-world philosophical base from which young adults of any background can define their principles and understand how their thinking and actions can affect their world. I make a case that this can be done better with ideals such as non-maleficence, beneficence, veracity, and fidelity to that which is truthful, logical, debated, kind, and just. This paper reflects all aspects of my journey thus far on discovering the various elements that go into making better decisions.