SOAR Program: Transforming Mid-Life
Some people associate the decades of mid-life with crisis because of the term coined by psychoanalyst Elliott Jacques in 1965. But mid-life is actually a profoundly rewarding and generative time. By mid-life, people are often prepared to give back: contributing their knowledge and experience, bringing wisdom and resilience, and utilizing their resources in ways that matter to them. Unlike previous times in history, today’s middle-aged adults have three to four healthy decades of active living ahead of them. And while they may be “finished” with a particular career or other life pursuit, they are not finished with life!
The new SOAR Program at the Drucker School is designed to provide accomplished people in mid-life the time, space, community, and curriculum to create a next phase in their lives—one that inspires them, enables them to have impact, and supports a sense of purpose beyond what they have already achieved in life.
“This program is a clear extension of the Drucker Philosophy. Peter wrote and talked about the need to reinvent yourself and to ask yourself in all different stages of life: “Who am I now? Where do I belong?” and “What do I want to contribute now?” says Drucker School Dean Dave Sprott.
SOAR Program director and Drucker faculty member Katharina Pick says Drucker recognized that only a very rare person would find fulfillment, challenge, and meaning in the same profession over a lifetime. “He counseled people specifically to plan for ‘the second half of life.’”
An Immersive Campus Experience
The SOAR Program builds on Claremont Graduate University’s expertise in positive psychology and is rooted in CGU’s tradition of transdisciplinarity. The spirit of the liberal arts and desire to explore across disciplines is central to CGU and to the SOAR Program, whose core faculty come from Arts & Humanities, Psychology, Philosophy, and the Drucker School of Management.
“CGU is dedicated to great conversations across disciplines; it’s exciting to see something like this come to life. A historian, a psychologist, and a strategy professor working together on curriculum makes for an extraordinary, inspiring process—exactly the kind of rich experience we want for our SOAR Fellows,” says Lori Anne Ferrell, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.
Unlike typical degree programs, SOAR does not prepare you for a particular career step, or a specific industry. Instead, the core curriculum guides fellows through self-reflection, transition, life design, the exploration of life’s great questions, the cultivation of purpose, and the discovery of different avenues toward positive societal impact.
In addition to the core curriculum, fellows audit electives around the university and will have extracurricular programming (societal impact engagements and speakers, for example), wellness activities, cohort dinners, interaction with faculty, and field trips.
“I think of the SOAR Program when I hear the old refrain that college is wasted on the young. This program is a chance to go back to college, and to have that experience of exploring, reconnecting to intellectual passions, and being on a campus with other students who are also exploring, debating, and confronting similar questions,” says Joshua Goode, a professor of History and Cultural Studies at CGU.
A Guided Journey for Positive Impact
This return to college is infused with ideas about positive societal impact, another core principle of the Drucker Philosophy. As SOAR Fellows navigate their personal journey, the program encourages them to look outward, to consider the most important challenges facing our world today, and to discern how they want to impact this world.
A final defining element of the SOAR Program is building community. SOAR fellows will connect with a cohort of similarly motivated people from a wide range of backgrounds who are also defining their next steps, Pick says. “It is invigorating to be around other people who are going through the same kind of transition. People really benefit from hearing others’ stories; they realize the shared human experience in trying to discern your purpose, and they get radically new ideas from people who have gone a different path.”
With the SOAR Program, CGU joins a handful of institutions around the world that are launching on-campus mid-life programs. These have shown great benefits, not just for the people who attend, but also the campuses that integrate this group into the classroom—creating opportunities for intergenerational learning, mentoring, entrepreneurial ventures, and a more diverse educational environment.
CGU and the Drucker School will welcome its first cohort to the SOAR Program in August 2023. More information about the program can be found here: https://www.cgu.edu/academics/program/soar/