Upcoming Regional and Topical Gatherings
2023 NetVUE Gathering at the AAR/SBL Annual MeetingThe theme of this pre-conference gathering aligns with the 2023 AAR theme (“La Labor de Nuestras Manos”) and builds on gatherings at previous AAR/SBL Annual 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 cost for those from NetVUE 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.
Past NetVUE Regional and Topical Gatherings
Vocation and Gen Z: Meaning-Making with Digital Narratives
October 13-14, 2017 • Benedictine University • Lisle, IL
Gen Z is the first group of first true digital natives. This NetVUE gathering will focus on how to understand them and ways to engage them in reflection on vocation in a way that is authentic and gives them critical distance from the world of the glass screen. Critical reflection can help these students integrate their scattered interests, deepen their connections to God and social justice, and commit to sustained personal development of a life of meaning and purpose.
New Scholarly Resources on Vocation
November 17, 2017 • American Academy of Religion • Boston, MA
Even though the language of vocation and calling has deeply theological (and even specifically Christian) roots, it is being increasingly employed by a variety of academic institutions, including secular ones and those with multi-faith constituencies. The NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project represents one attempt to think through the impact of this language, drawing on the work of scholars in theology, religious studies, philosophy, and related fields. This one-day gathering is designed to provide an academic setting in which to examine and discuss the Project’s three books, all of which are published or forthcoming from Oxford University Press.Event Details
Vocation Across the Academy: Storytelling, Mapmaking, and a Sense of Direction
February 23-24, 2018 • Berry College • Rome, GA
This NetVUE gathering is a book retreat to discuss content and use of the second NetVUE Scholars book, Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education. NetVUE scholars will focus on the importance of narrative as students set directions through both liberal arts nad profession-related studies. Thoughtful exchanges about the book will be interwoven with a campus tour and reception as well as other activities on these exceptional campus grounds.
Vocation Across the Academy: Calling, Conflict and the Necessity of Action
March 9-10, 2018 • California Lutheran University • Thousand Oaks, CA
This NetVUE gathering is a book retreat to discuss content and use of the second NetVUE Scholars book, Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education. NetVUE Scholars and experienced leaders will focus on the importance of guiding students through competing claims to core commitments. Thoughtful exchanges about the book will be interwoven with practices and experiences that illustrate California Lutheran University strategies for vocational exploration.Event Site
Mentoring Undergraduate Students of Color: The Shape of Deep Purpose
March 23-24, 2018 • Elizabethtown College • Washington, DC
This occasion will explore in community both the general and particular callings, strengths, and possibilities of CIC NetVUE schools related to mentoring undergraduate students of color in both predominantly/historical White institutions and in minority-serving institutions. Leaders will explore cultural interpretations of vocation, spirituality, religion, deep meaning, and purpose in the lives of students of color as well as high-impact practices that support their explorations.
The Changing Nature of Work: Career Development and Vocation
June 12-13, 2018 • Augustana College • Rock Island, IL
This NetVUE gathering provides an opportunity to explore the connections among career development, academic advising, and vocational reflection – and to do so in highly practical ways. Specifically, it aims to foster collaboration across various campus offices and academic divisions. Career services personnel, academic advisors, faculty members, and others may all be promoting vocational reflection and discernment, but they may sometimes find themselves nudging students in very different directions. How might vocational exploration be integrated into a more holistic model of career development, while still validating the liberal-arts orientation of NetVUE institutions? Through keynote presentations, networking, and conversation, participants will learn about best practices, hear from experts doing this work, and think collaboratively as campus teams.
Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy
September 20-21, 2019 • Pepperdine University • Malibu, CA
This gathering will provide a venue in which NetVUE campus leaders can discuss the third book in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources series, Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy (2019). Discussions will focus on the book’s implications for leaders of vocational exploration programs in multi-faith environments. Speakers will include David Cunningham, director of NetVUE and the book’s editor, and two contributors to the volume.Event Site
Educating for Citizenship: Vocational Reflection for the Public Good
October 4–5, 2019 • Geneva College • Beaver Falls, PA
This event is designed to generate conversations around the reclamation of one of the original purposes of American higher education: the making of citizens. Issues of social justice, civility, plurality and unity, and the common good are important for the cultivation of engaged citizens. This gathering will explore how vocational reflection can provide a framework for educating undergraduate students about citizenship. Speakers will be drawn from area nonprofits and community organizations.Event Site
Colleges Can Have Vocations Too
November 15–16, 2019 • Lipscomb University • Nashville, TN
Transforming the mission of a college or university into a saga—a powerful and compelling narrative informed by a unique history—requires a strong sense of institutional vocation in which the college or university has been called and summoned to fulfill a special role. This gathering will consider institutional vocational discernment as a means of identifying and developing a saga, with attention to issues of religious heritage, educational philosophy, faculty commitments, and student outcomes. Speakers include Florence Amamoto, Gustavus Adolphus College; David Cunningham, director of NetVUE; Jason Mahn, Augustana College (IL); and Julianne Wallace, Alvernia College.Event Site
Vocation, Teaching, and Religious Studies: An AAR/SBL Pre-Meeting
November 21–22, 2019 • Preceding the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting • San Diego, CA
Faculty members and scholars in religious studies will gather to discuss the role played by issues of vocation, meaning, and purpose in the field of religion. Attention will be given to the wide range of faith traditions and life stances that are addressed in the religious studies classroom. Speakers will include contributors to the 2019 books Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a New Field and Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy.Event Site
Voices from the Margins: Supporting Vocational Reflection with Undeserved Students
January 16–18, 2020 • Occidental College • Los Angeles, CA
The goal of this gathering is to explore how vocational exploration might be fostered among students whose identities and circumstances sometimes result in less attention and care from the institutions they attend. These underserved students come from a variety of social locations and identities, including first-generation students, students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, and others. Conversations will seek to identify best practices and innovative ways to foster culturally sensitive vocational exploration among students from marginalized communities.Event Site
Where Campus Meets the World: Vocation and Post-College Transition
February 21–22, 2020 • Huntingdon College • Montgomery, AL
This gathering will explore strategies for faculty and staff members who seek to help students put into practice beyond the classroom and the campus what they learn about vocation in the undergraduate setting. It will include discussions of obstacles that can arise as students pursue their callings after college—including structural and socio-economic factors, disabilities, cross-cultural challenges, and the tendency of some forms of “service” to do more harm than good. The gathering will include a visit to the renowned Legacy Museum and the Memorial for Peace and Justice.Event Site
The Change a Difference Makes: Enriching Vocation Through Religious Diversity
October 28–29, 2021 • Dominican University • River Forest, IL
The changing demographics of the student body at NetVUE colleges and universities present both challenges and opportunities. In particular, the increasing diversity at these institutions is often noted, but religious diversity rarely receives the level of attention given to other elements of difference. And yet, religious diversity may be one of the most important topics to consider when thinking about vocational exploration and discernment. This NetVUE gathering addresses these questions through substantive workshops that emphasize interactive engagement. These workshops will be framed by plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and a wide range of opportunities for networking and discussion.
Religion and Justice Issues in the Undergraduate Classroom: An AAR/SBL Pre-Meeting
November 18–19, 2021 • Preceding the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting • San Antonio, TX
Faculty members and scholars in theology and religious studies will gather to explore the ways that their undergraduate classrooms can become sites for deeper conversations about issues of justice. These conversations often involve matters of vocational reflection and discernment, focusing both on the students’ individual lives and on the various communities of which they are a part. Attention will be given to the relationships among religion, justice, and vocation—not only on a theoretical level, but also in terms of classroom resources, pedagogical approaches, and practical ways to address potential obstacles to conversation. The event will include discussion of immigration, incarceration, and environmental justice, as well as response to Jason Mahn’s Neighbor Love through Fearful Days (Fortress, 2021).Event Site
Engaging Faculty Members in the Work of Vocation
June 1–3, 2022 • St. Norbert College • De Pere, WI
As experience and research have shown, sustaining a commitment to vocation-related efforts on a college campus over time requires the engagement of faculty members, as well as ongoing investments on their part. This gathering will consider strategies for faculty engagement—including past successes, present-day obstacles and opportunities, and fresh ideas for the future. Campuses are encouraged to send teams that include at least one faculty member and at least one professional whose portfolio includes the recruitment of faculty members for these efforts. The keynote speakers will be Paul J. Wadell, professor emeritus of religious studies at St. Norbert College and Darby K. Ray, Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Professor of Civic Engagement and Director, Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates College. They are co-directors of the NetVUE faculty seminar on Teaching Vocational Exploration.
Scientific Callings: Mentoring and Vocational Exploration in the Natural and Health Sciences
September 23–24, 2022 • Assumption University and College of the Holy Cross • Worcester, MA
This NetVUE regional gathering of colleagues in the natural sciences and in pre-professional health sciences and nursing programs will provide a space to discuss best practices for initiating and nurturing mentoring relationships that help diverse populations of students discern callings in STEM and pre-professional (nursing, health sciences) fields. Building meaningful mentoring relationships with students, especially with first-generation and other underrepresented, minoritized undergraduates, is essential for promoting academic success and encouraging vocational discernment. By engaging with keynote speakers, sharing vocational stories, and participating in breakout sessions, attendees will learn valuable lessons on mentoring in the natural sciences, pre-professional health sciences, and nursing that they can practice at their home campuses.Event Site
Institutional Saga: A Tool for Aligning Mission, Vocation, and Innovation
October 5–7, 2022 • Schreiner University • Kerrville, TX
All colleges and universities have their own historical narratives or “institutional sagas.” When a campus community commits to exploring, shaping, and sharing its saga, opportunities for vocational discovery emerge. This regional gathering will enable participants to examine the value of uncovering, recovering, and claiming an institution’s saga—including the complications and nuances of those narratives. The event is designed to create space for considering where an institution’s saga begins and ends, how it includes (or excludes) particular individuals and groups, and how the story is presented to others. The gathering will include a welcome dinner showcasing local foods and a “Star Party” at Schreiner’s Loftis Observatory, as well as a “Vocation Celebration” featuring music, conversation, and an interactive exploration of the undergraduate vocational journey.Event Site
Vocation and Catastrophe: An AAR/SBL Pre-Meeting
November 17–18, 2022 • Preceding the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting • Denver, CO
Over the last few years, the world has experienced a global health pandemic, extreme polarization along lines of race and class, an increase in armed violence, and a surge of climate-related disasters. How have these events and trends altered conversations with undergraduate students about vocation and calling? How are students, staff, and faculty members affected by a sense of impending catastrophe? This event aligns with the American Academy of Religion’s 2022 theme (“Religion and Catastrophe”) and builds on NetVUE gatherings at AAR/SBL meetings in 2019 and 2021 (focusing on interreligious conversations and issues of justice). As always, the event will include panel presentations, book discussions, and interactive conversations, as well as opportunities for socializing and networking. Attendees of the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting are invited to arrive in Denver a day or two early for this pre-conference gathering.
Food and Vocation
April 13-15, 2023 • Wingate University • Wingate, NC
Food is the great connector and a means for exploring vocation in a world emerging from the shadow of COVID. Undergraduate students can form deep roots to feed their sense of purpose and value when they are given the opportunity to explore vocation as an “edible theology” that appreciates the past, present, and future. Keynote speakers for this interactive gathering include Norman Wirzba, professor of theology at Duke University and author of Food and Faith and Agrarian Spirit, and Laura Wright, professor of English at Western Carolina University and author of The Vegan Studies Project. The gathering also showcases learned practitioners from organizations such as RAFI, Waterkeeper Alliance, Stardust Cellars, Native Root, and the Piedmont Culinary Guild. Participants will investigate the implications of food on identity, explore the intersection of hospitality and justice, and engage the metaphor of the divine banquet in many interactive settings. Those who can stay through Saturday will be able to enjoy the Charlotte StrEATs festival, a two-day celebration of chefs and local food.Event Site
Finding Ourselves at the Center: Collaborative Spaces for Purpose, Work, Learning, and Engagement
May 31-June 2, 2023 • Bluffton University • Bluffton, OH
Many institutions have established “centers” as integrated spaces that combine areas once considered distinct: career development, academic advising, community engagement, vocational discernment, diversity initiatives, internships, and other campus offices that have an impact on our students’ work of vocational exploration and discernment. This gathering will examine both the impetus for and the outcomes of such creative realignments. What can be done together—at the “center”—that cannot be done from individually defined locations at the periphery? The gathering will explore models and best practices for involving various constituencies in this enterprise, including faculty members, administrators, program directors, and the local community.Event Site