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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.

This first NetVUE Scholarly Resources Seminar seeks to address these challenges. It will draw on multiple theological and philosophical traditions to develop theoretical, analytical, and practical accounts of the role vocational discernment might play in undergraduate education. Seminar members will contribute to the emerging scholarly literature on vocation in order to help establish it as an area of educational reflection and practice. The group will also consider 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 will be disseminated in a variety of forms. To help establish vocation more firmly in the academic conversation, the group will publish at least one volume of essays with significant scholarly merit. But this will not exhaust the group’s output; other resources, including online resources, will be considered, 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 will therefore attend 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 project director David Cunningham by email at or by phone at (616) 395-7320.

Vocational Discernment as Pedagogy scholars are:

Quincy D. Brown – Vice President for Spiritual Life and Church Relations, LaGrange College
William T. Cavanaugh – Professor of Theology, DePaul University
Douglas V. Henry – Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Honors College, Baylor University
Thomas A. (Tal) Howard – Associate Professor of History, Gordon College
Kathryn (Kit) Kleinhans – Professor of Religion, Wartburg College
Charles R. Pinches – Professor and Chair of Theology/Religious Studies, University of Scranton
Darby Ray – Professor of Civic Engagement and Director, Harward Center for Community Partnerships, Bates College
Caryn D. Riswold – Associate Professor of Religion and Chair, Gender and Women's Studies, Illinois College
C. Hannah Schell – Professor of Religious Studies, Monmouth College
Paul J. Wadell – Professor of Religious Studies, St. Norbert College
Stephen H. Webb – Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Wabash College
Cynthia A. Wells Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Program Director, MA in Higher Education, Messiah College