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"Vocational Discernment as Pedagogy: Theory, Analysis, and Practice"

Many NetVUE institutions have successfully implemented programs that make use of the language of “calling” and of vocation-related practices to help students think about their futures. Despite the venerable history of the idea of vocation, it faces significant challenges: uncertainty about its meaning and significance; the absence of a clearly developed curriculum and associated pedagogies; and a lack of extensive literature to provide support and resources to the ongoing development of vocation as a focus of academic inquiry and practice.

The first NetVUE Scholarly Resources Seminar sought to address these challenges. Participants drew on multiple theological and philosophical traditions to develop theoretical, analytical, and practical accounts of the role vocational discernment might play in undergraduate education. The group also considered the ways in which the language of vocation may itself function as a pedagogy – a kind of structural scaffolding for students and faculty members who are wrestling with large questions of meaning and purpose.

The work of the seminar was disseminated in a variety of forms. First among these was the publication of a book, At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education, (Oxford University Press, 2016). But this did not exhaust the group’s output; other resources, including online resources, were developed, with special attention to material for classroom use. The overall goal of the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project is the production of knowledge for the use of faculty members and students at the undergraduate level. The seminar therefore attended to a variety of approaches for making its work available to NetVUE member institutions and to the wider higher education community. 

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

Vocational Discernment as Pedagogy scholars are:

Quincy D. Brown – District Superintendent of the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church
(During the project: Vice President for Spiritual Life and Church Relations, LaGrange College)
William T. Cavanaugh – Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, DePaul University
Douglas V. Henry – Dean of the Honors College and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University
Thomas A. (Tal) Howard – Professor of Humanities and History and holder of the Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics, Valparaiso University
(During the project: Associate Professor of History, Gordon College)
Kathryn (Kit) Kleinhans – Dean, Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University
(During the project: Professor of Religion, Mike & Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission, Wartburg College)
Charles R. Pinches – Professor and Chair of Theology and Religious Studies, The University of Scranton
Darby K. Ray – Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Professor of Civic Engagement and Director, Harward Center for Community Partnerships, and Professor of Religious Studies, Bates College
Caryn D. Riswold – Professor of Religion, Mike & Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission, Wartburg College
(During the project: Associate Professor of Religion and Chair, Gender and Women's Studies, Illinois College)
C. Hannah Schell – NetVUE Online Community Coordinator, Council of Independent Colleges
(During the project: Professor of Religious Studies, Monmouth College)
Paul J. Wadell – Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies, St. Norbert College
Stephen H. Webb (1961-2016) – During the project: Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Wabash College
Cynthia A. Wells  Associate Professor of Higher Education and Director, Ernest L. Boyer Center, Messiah College