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Teaching Vocational Exploration 6/18/20176/18/20176/18/20176/22/20176/22/20176/22/2017 Techny Towers Conference & Retreat Center Chicago, IL
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About the Seminar

​​CIC is pleased to announce a multidisciplinary seminar, Teaching Vocational Exploration, for full-time faculty members in all fields at colleges and universities that are members of NetVUE. The seminar is designed for early to mid-career faculty members at the rank of assistant or associate professor or the equivalent. Participants will learn to strengthen the teaching of vocational exploration by probing a variety of understandings of vocation and their importance in educating undergraduates, by developing new courses or course materials, and by establishing a broader network of faculty members committed to teaching vocational exploration. Thanks to a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., CIC will cover most costs of participation for those faculty members who are selected.

One of the most promising ways that faculty members can serve their students is to introduce them to the subject of vocation. What would it mean for students to think of themselves as “called” or “summoned” to use their intellect and abilities to have a positive impact on the world by doing good?

Faculty members teach students at a critical time in their lives, a time when they are searching—and often struggling—to form a clear understanding of who they are and what they might do with their lives. Students often ask, “What kind of life is truly worth living?” They want to know how to use their unique talents and connections to help others and to work for a better world. Faculty members committed to vocational exploration strive to help students discover what could constitute a truly good, beautiful, and flourishing life that would lead to well-being for themselves and others.

In recent years, many colleges and universities have experienced a rediscovery and deeper appreciation of vocational exploration and its relevance to institutional efforts to encourage students to think about the trajectory of their lives. Guiding students in the exploration of their respective vocations and helping them probe the theological, ethical, and intellectual dimensions of meaning and purpose can expand, deepen, and enrich faculty members’ understanding of the privilege and responsibility of their own callings as teachers.

This seminar aims to strengthen the teaching of vocational exploration by examining different meanings of “vocation” and their importance for undergraduate education, by considering content and teaching methods for courses that focus on vocational exploration, and by reflecting on the shape and experience of the academic vocation. Discussions also will focus on mentoring students for ongoing vocational exploration, understanding the characteristics of emerging adults, reflecting on the nature of work, and considering the relationship of vocational exploration to the world views of other people. In preparation for the seminar, participants will be asked to read selected materials on vocation and submit a brief written reflection to be shared with the other participants. They also will be asked to commit to developing a new course or course materials or to redesign an existing course with greater focus on vocational exploration.

Seminar Leaders

Paul J. Wadell headshotPaul J. Wadell, director of the NetVUE Faculty Development Seminars, is professor of theology and religious studies at St. Norbert College. From 2000 to 2010, he was coordinator for faculty and staff development of St. Norbert’s Faith, Learning, and Vocation program. Previously, Wadell taught for many years at Catholic Theological Union. His principal areas of scholarly interest include virtue ethics, the role of friendship in the moral life, and theological and ethical dimensions of vocation. He is the author of a number of books, including Happiness and the Christian Moral Life: An Introduction to Christian Ethics (2007), Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship (2002), and Friendship and the Moral Life (1989). Wadell also has contributed chapters to several volumes of theology and ethics and has written numerous articles for both scholarly and popular theological journals. In addition, he participated in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project and wrote “An Itinerary of Hope: Called to a Magnanimous Way of Life” in At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education (2015). He currently serves as a member of the NetVUE Advisory Council. Wadell earned a BA in English from Bellarmine College, a master of divinity and master of arts in theology from Catholic Theological Union, and a PhD in theology from the University of Notre Dame.

Darby Kathleen Ray headshotDarby Kathleen Ray is the Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Professor of Civic Engagement at Bates College where she also is professor of religious studies and director of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships. At Bates, she leads institutional strategy and program development in support of the college’s civic mission, teaches in religious studies, leads workshops and seminars in community-engaged learning, and develops college-community collaborations. Previously, Ray was a professor of religious studies at Millsaps College where she also was founding director of the Millsaps Faith and Work Initiative. Earlier, she was an associate professor of religious studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Ray chairs the Transformative Scholarship and Pedagogy Group of the American Academy of Religion and serves on the steering committee of the Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology. She is the author of Working (2011), Incarnation and Imagination: A Christian Ethic of Ingenuity (2008), and Theology That Matters: Ecology, Economy and God (2006). She also participated in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project and wrote “Self, World, and the Space Between: Community Engagement as Vocational Discernment” in At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education (2015). Ray earned a BA from Sewanee: The University of the South and an MA and PhD from Vanderbilt University—all in religion.

Location and Expenses

Techny Towers Conference & Retreat Center view from across pond with fountainThe seminar took place June 19–23, 2017, at Techny Towers Conference & Retreat Center located at 2001 Waukegan Road, Northbrook, Illinois, north of Chicago and roughly 30 minutes from O’Hare International Airport. Thanks to generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., CIC covered most seminar costs, including materials, lodging, and meals, and provided a travel stipend of up to $400 per participant.

Current Status

CIC selected up to 20 participants by competitive nomination. Full-time faculty members in any discipline or department at the rank of assistant or associate professor or the equivalent at NetVUE member colleges and universities are eligible to be considered.

The nomination deadline was Friday, November 18, 2016.

Contact Information

​For questions about the seminar or the nomination process, contact Shirley J. Roels, CIC senior advisor and director of NetVUE, at (616) 526-7819 or sroels@cic.nche.edu.