“Magical Thinking” and Inward Engagement at a Small Liberal Arts University in a Time of Crisis


  • Patrick Danner Misericordia University


Editing, Course Design, Client Engagement, Magical Thinking, Times of Crisis


This case study essay draws on experiences and survey documentation surrounding a new, client-driven course, ENG337–Professional Editing, that was piloted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The author, an Assistant Professor at a small liberal arts college, pulls from this experience and the attending documentation to interrogate magical thinking, a concept formulated by Joan Didion (2007) and later repurposed by James Dubinsky (2010) to explore various dimensions of program development. Throughthe narrative of course development and administration and a retroactive summary of survey findings, the author demonstrates how magical thinking can be re-formulated to respond to our responsibilities to students and stakeholders in times of crisis. The essay concludes by calling on readers to not allow “magical thinking” to be a just-in-time reaction, but rather a regular expression of our values in the field.


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Author Biography

Patrick Danner , Misericordia University

Patrick Danner (he/him) is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of Professional Writing and Rhetoric at Misericordia University where he teaches many sections of first-year writing and courses as varied as science writing, linguistics, podcasting, and more. He has published multiple articles and book chapters on data visualization, workplace collaboration, social movement rhetoric, community engagement, and program administration.




How to Cite

Danner , P. (2022). “Magical Thinking” and Inward Engagement at a Small Liberal Arts University in a Time of Crisis. Programmatic Perspectives, 13(2), 76–103. Retrieved from https://programmaticperspectives.cptsc.org/index.php/jpp/article/view/23