2023 NetVUE Gathering at the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting Vocation and/as the Work of Our Hands: An AAR/SBL Pre-Meeting

November 16, 2023, 2:00 pm–November 17, 2023, 12:00 pm San Antonio, TX

Vocation and/as the Work of Our Hands: An AAR/SBL Pre-Meeting

NetVUE will host an AAR/SBL pre-conference meeting on the theme of“Vocation and/as the Work of Our Hands.” Aligning with the 2023 AAR theme (“La Labor de Nuestras Manos”) and building on previous NetVUE pre-conference meetings, this event considers how our work, as educators in the field of religious studies and theology, might support our students’ hands-on efforts to discern their many callings in life. The gathering runs from Thursday, November 16, at 2:00 p.m. through Friday, November 17 at noon.The cost for those from member institutions is only $25, which includes a Thursday evening reception and dinner, as well as a light breakfast on Friday. Interested parties from non-NetVUE institutions may participate as well, at a slightly higher cost.

Description of the Gathering

This NetVUE gathering provides an opportunity for teachers and scholars in the field of religious studies to explore the ways that their classroom teaching and their research agendas can become sites for developing and implementing practices to help undergraduate students explore and discern their many callings in life. Our work in theology, scripture, and religious studies is certainly focused on the life of the mind, and sometimes of the soul; but it also affects, and is affected by, our bodily presence in the world. Taking a cue from this year’s AAR theme “La Labor de Nuestras Manos,” we will consider the degree to which scholars of religious studies and theology can help students understand their efforts at vocational exploration and discernment in practical as well as theoretical ways: as the work of the hands, as much as the mind and soul and heart. This pre-conference gathering will address questions such as these: 

  • How might the undergraduate classroom become a space where students can engage in hands-on practices that will facilitate reflection on their callings?
  • How could we—as scholars of religious studies, scripture, and theology—shape our research agendas in ways that might broaden the range of vocation-related practices available to our students?
  • What resources (readings, discussion topics, and pedagogical approaches) are available to scholars who seek to emphasize the relationships among the study of religion, the lived reality of faith communities, and personal reflection and discernment?
  • What obstacles are classroom teachers likely to face in addressing these issues in the religious studies classroom and in their research, and how can these obstacles be addressed?

This gathering will be of interest to those who teach undergraduate courses in religious studies, theology, ethics, and related fields—as well as to those who carry out advising and mentoring duties with undergraduate students, or whose research is related to issues of vocation and calling.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, November 16

2:00 p.m.
Introduction:  “Getting Our Hands Dirty: Vocational Exploration as an Embodied Practice”

David S. Cunningham, Executive Director of NetVUE

2:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Contributions to Called Beyond Our Selves: Vocation and the Common Good (ed. Erin Van Laningham; Oxford University Press, 2024)

Charles T. (Chuck) Mathewes,  University of Virginia
David M. McCarthy, Mount St. Mary’s University (MD)
Deanna A. Thompson, St. Olaf College

3:15 p.m.

3:30 p.m.
Response to the Contributors (and discussion)

Darby Ray, Bates College

5:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m.
Dinner at a local restaurant

Friday, November 17

9:00 a.m.
Keynote Address: “Head—Heart—Hands: Empowering Students for Multidimensional Vocational Exploration”

Krista E. Hughes, Newberry College

10:15 a.m.

10:30 a.m.
Panel Discussion: Vocation-Related Practices in Teaching and Research

Nicole L. (Niki) Johnson, University of Mount Union
Jason A. Mahn, Augustana College (IL)
Rodney A. Palmer, Andrews University

Lunch (optional; not included in the registration fee)

Meals, Accommodation, and Transportation

Registered participants are invited to a Thursday afternoon reception (complimentary snacks, hors d’oeuvres, and bar), as well as dinner at a local restaurant. A light breakfast will be available on Friday morning. The cost of these meals is included in the $25 registration fee. Many participants continue the discussion over lunch on Friday as well.

Members of SBL or AAR who are registered for the Annual Meeting can obtain discounted lodging through the organization of which they are a member. Information concerning area hotels, as well as airport transfer and parking information, is available on the SBL website or  the AAR website. Limited assistance for one extra night of lodging, or for travel, is available to those registered for the pre-conference gathering whose institutions are unable to cover this cost; if you are in need of this assistance, please write to David Cunningham, executive director of NetVUE, at dcunningham@cic.edu, with details of your circumstances.

Other NetVUE Sessions at the AAR/SBL Meeting

Saturday, November 18

5:30–7:30 p.m.

NetVUE Reception for Members and Friends
Hosted by David S. Cunningham, Executive Director of NetVUE, and Lynne Spoelhof, Director of NetVUE Operations

NetVUE also hosts a reception during the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting. All SBL and AAR participants are invited to stop by this reception—whether or not their institutions are members of the network, and whether or not they are able to participate in the pre-conference gathering. Attendees can learn more about NetVUE (including opportunities for faculty development and institutional grants), connect with friends and colleagues with similar interests, and enjoy one another’s company.

Monday, November 20

1:00–3:00 p.m.

SBL Session: Scriptural Reasoning as Vocational Discernment

As an affiliate member of SBL, NetVUE is eligible to host a session within the SBL Annual Meeting itself. This year’s session focuses on the ways in which the practice of Scriptural Reasoning can be used as a “hands-on” approach to vocational exploration and discernment. This was the subject of a plenary session at the 2022 NetVUE Conference; this session will examine the practice in more detail, with particular attention to the role that faculty members in religious studies and scripture studies can play in introducing this practice to colleagues across the disciplines and to implementing this work at their own institutions.

Nicholas Adams, University of Birmingham (England)
Rachel S. Mikva, Chicago Theological Seminary
Younus Y. Mirza, Shenandoah University

NetVUE is a program of the Council of Independent Colleges. NetVUE programs and services are made possible through member dues and the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc.