Despite the increasing interest in the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation, its further development on college and university campuses faces significant challenges. The current economic climate has led to a focus on shorter-term educational goals. Many institutions find themselves fighting to preserve emphasis on the importance of broader vision and deeper wisdom in undergraduate education. The liberal arts disciplines—traditionally a bulwark for conversations about questions of meaning and significance—are frequently on the defensive. Students increasingly encounter a wider array of religious traditions on campus and also find themselves with the uncertainties that characterize what we have learned to call “emerging adulthood.” These and related challenges have prompted many new questions about the concept of vocation and how it can best be explored by today’s undergraduate students.
NetVUE member colleges and universities would benefit from access to new scholarly resources that facilitate better theological understanding of vocation among students and faculty members. Although a number of such resources were produced as a result of the PTEV initiative, each new decade brings with it new questions related to faith and vocation. Three major issues have been identified by scholars of vocation and NetVUE’s leaders for the development of new scholarly resources.
- First, how can colleges and universities educate undergraduates about vocation? In the face of an ever-changing context, institutions need resources for increasing student attentiveness to vocation, for describing the nature of vocational exploration in fresh and compelling ways, and for connecting students with vocation-based practices across institutions with diverse missions and religious heritages. Click here for further description and seminar scholars.
- Second, how can vocational considerations be integrated into diverse fields of study? Particularly in applied fields such as business, education, engineering, health care, and information science, teachers and advisors face an acute shortage of reliable scholarly resources on vocation. Click here for further description and seminar scholars.
- Third, how can vocational discernment and practices be advanced in a multi-religious world? Well-educated students will need to become better informed about religious traditions other than their own, if their understanding of vocation is to be useful in a pluralistic, global society.
NetVUE will bring together three groups of senior scholars who represent a wide range of theological traditions and who have expertise related to each of these themes. Each of these seminar groups will study one of the issues and will convene three times over a 14-month period. Each seminar group will produce a book and perhaps other scholarly materials that respond to one of these three important vocational questions and become resources for colleges and universities. Each of the three groups will incorporate theological foundations from many different traditions. The members of each seminar group will compare ideas and perspectives that have emerged from their common and individual readings and will develop plans for a coordinated writing project, which they will carry out over the course of a year.
Through the generous support of the Lilly Endowment, NetVUE will support expenses of the seminar meetings and the production of materials associated with this initiative and will provide modest stipends to scholars for their written contributions. The intent is that the first seminar group will begin its work in summer 2013, with the second seminar cohort commencing its work in summer 2014 and the third in 2015. NetVUE’s expectation is that this scholarly endeavor will conclude within five to six years.
For additional information about the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project, please contact project director David Cunningham by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at (616) 395-7320.