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“Vocational Exploration in Multi-Faith Contexts”

Today’s undergraduate students live in a diverse and confusing world. These challenges are made more difficult by only tentative attachments to traditional faith communities and instant access to real-time information throughout the world. Many undergraduates find themselves understandably overwhelmed by the world in which they already live––not to mention the world that might lie ahead. They experience skepticism about the metanarratives and worldviews that were sometimes posited as giving their lives a degree of order and meaning. On a number of college and university campuses, efforts are being made to address these challenges with programs focused on the idea of vocation.

Scholars in this seminar will think deeply about how vocational discernment and vocation-related practices can be advanced in a multi-faith world. This seminar will consider theological frameworks in diverse religious traditions in relation to vocation.  It will consider how to educate undergraduates from diverse backgrounds to move beyond mere tolerance of diversity to develop deeper interconnections with one another. Many faith traditions have underlying assumptions about the nature of humanity and about human identity; sacred texts often reflect on the nature of character, work, and rest, including questions about the nature and purpose of service to others. The aim of this seminar is to produce resources from multiple traditions of belief and practice that enrich the theological understanding of calling with and among undergraduate students while enhancing their fluency about multiple faith traditions of meaning and purpose.

The NetVUE Scholarly Resources Seminar on multi-faith contexts—the final in a series of three—will explore what it means to use the language of vocation and vocational discernment in a pluralistic context. These questions are no longer merely ecumenical among various Christian circles, but now concern deeply-felt distinctions across more varied traditions. Whatever their own faith commitments, faculty and students are more regularly encountering people whose faith and religious practices differ—sometimes radically—from their own not only in higher education, but in cities, community organizations, and workplaces. What ideas about being, character and virtue, rhythms of life and frameworks for action are shared across multiple traditions of belief? How do we welcome and engage purposefully with students, faculty, and staff from many belief traditions as they consider their sense of calling? How might we find vocational language to consider what is held in common amid differences and teach student effective strategies for peace, justice, and conflict resolution?

The work of the seminar will be disseminated in a variety of forms. In order to help establish vocation more firmly in the academic conversation, the group will publish at least one volume of essays with significant scholarly merit. However, we also hope that the group will consider developing other materials. The overall goal of the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project is the development of resources for the use of faculty members and students at the undergraduate level.

For additional information about the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project, contact project director David Cunningham by email at or by phone at (616) 395-7320.

Multi-Faith Vocational Exploration scholars are:

Florence D. Amamoto – Associate Professor in Japanese Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Sponberg Chair in Ethics, Gustavus Adolphus College (MN)
Jacqueline A. Bussie – Associate Professor of Religion and Director, Forum on Faith and Life, Concordia College (MN)
Jeffrey D. Carlson – Professor of Theology and Dean of the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, Dominican University (IL)
Rahuldeep Singh Gill – Associate Professor of Religion, California Lutheran University
Katherine J. (“Trina”) Jones – Associate Professor of Religion and Associate Provost for Curriculum & Co-Curriculum, Wofford College (SC)
Rachel S. Mikva – Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Director, Center for Jewish, Christian and Islamic Studies, Chicago Theological Seminary (IL)
Younus Y. Mirza – Assistant Professor of Islam, Allegheny College (PA)
Anantanand (“Anant”) Rambachan – Professor of Religion, Philosophy, and Asian Studies, St. Olaf College (MN)
Tracy W. Sadd – Chaplain and Executive Director for Purposeful Life Work and Ethical Leadership, Elizabethtown College (PA)
Matthew R. Sayers – Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Lebanon Valley College (PA)
Noah Silverman – Senior Director of Faculty Partnerships, Interfaith Youth Core (IL)
Homayra Ziad – Scholar of Islam, Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (MD)