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Syllabus in 60: Finding Happiness in the Age of Consumption

Friday, April 8, 2022

Courses at the Carlson School cover a wide range of topics. Here's a 60-second breakdown of one of the many classes leaving an impact on students.


Rohini Ahluwalia
Professor Rohini Ahluwalia

MKTG 4090: Finding Happiness in the Age of Consumption

In today’s culture, the pursuit of happiness through material gains seems to be an attainable goal. Still, we feel empty, wanting, and dissatisfied time and again. Why this paradox? Using recent research in consumer behavior, decision making, neuroscience, and psychology, this course, developed and taught by Professor Rohini Ahluwalia, tackles tough questions while developing a tool kit to help students on their journey to happiness and success.

5 Takeaways

  • Happiness in the U.S. is falling. 2021 World Happiness Report lists the U.S. as No. 19, down from No. 12 a decade ago. Further, the U.S. experienced a drop in happiness during that period greater than most other countries in the world.
  • Brain chemistry plays a critical role for each of us in our happiness.
  • College students face mounting challenges. Today, only 41 percent of college students rate their emotional health as above average, compared to 64 percent in 1985. On the Twin Cities campus, more than 2 in 5 students have a mental health diagnosis in their lifetime.
  • Research shows happiness is more likely to determine success than vice versa. If we are happy, we’re more creative, make better decisions, develop stronger relationships, have more energy, are physically healthier, and more efficient and productive. We’re also better managers at work!
  • Weekly reflection activities, daily practice exercises, and group assignments help students better understand their own lives and put into practice what they are learning. The tool kits they develop have staying power and can be used across contexts.

“Engaging and eye-opening course. [This is] one of the most valuable courses that I’ve taken during my experience at Carlson. Not only has it drastically changed my mindset, I believe it is changing the course of my future.”

Student Participant
Spring 2022 alumni magazine cover

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 alumni magazine

Strength is determined by how we rise in the face of challenges. 

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Spring 2022 table of contents