2017 NetVUE Regional Gathering – American Academy of Religion

New Scholarly Resources on Vocation

Friday, November 17, 2017 · American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Boston, MA

Over the past several years, the language of vocation and calling has become increasingly popular in college and university settings. Programs for vocational reflection and discernment are being developed as a way of helping students think about their future direction in life, while also attending to larger questions of meaning and purpose. Even though this terminology has deeply theological (and even specifically Christian) roots, it has made a mark on a variety of academic institutions, including secular ones and those with multi-faith constituencies. But although this language is widely used in practice, its significance has remained relatively under-theorized in academic circles.

In 2012, partly in an effort to respond to this situation, the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) launched its Scholarly Resources Project. This initiative was designed to gather three groups of scholars in order to produce three books (and related resources) about three broad aspects of the language of vocation and calling: questions surrounding pedagogy (i.e., can vocation be “taught”?); issues raised about vocation across differing academic disciplines and applied fields; and how vocational discussions differ in secular or multi-faith environments.

This one-day gathering, held on the day preceding the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in Boston, featured one session on each of the above-listed topics, which corresponded to three books published or forthcoming from Oxford University Press:

  • At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education (2016)
  • Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education (2017)
  • Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy (tentative title; forthcoming 2019).

Panels included contributing authors from each book, as well as respondents from institutions that are making use of these resources as members of NetVUE.

Schedule of Events

10:00–10:30 a.m.

Introduction to the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project (NSRP)

         David S. Cunningham, Director of NetVUE

10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Stepping into a Flowing Stream: Conversations on the forthcoming third NSRP volume, Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy (OUP, 2019) 

         Rachel S. Mikva, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies; Senior Faculty Fellow, Interreligious Institute, Chicago Theological Seminary
         Katherine J. Jones, Associate Provost for Curriculum and Co-Curriculum; Associate Professor of Religion, Wofford College

         John D. Barton, Director, Center Faith and Learning, Pepperdine University

12:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m.

Lunch at area eateries

1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Language for a Complex Educational Environment: Conversations on the second NSRP volume, Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education (OUP, 2017)

         Jason A. Mahn, Associate Professor of Religion; Chair, Religion Department, Augustana College (IL)
         Christine M. Fletcher, Associate Professor of Theology; Director of General Education, Benedictine University (IL)

         Esteban Loustaunau, Associate Professor of Spanish; Director, SOPHIA Program, Assumption College

3:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.


3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Pedagogies of Vocation / Vocation as Pedagogy: Conversations on the first NSRP volume, At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education (OUP, 2016).

         Charles R. Pinches, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Scranton
         Darby K. Ray, Director, Harward Center for Community Partnerships, Bates College

         Mark Allman, Associate Dean; Professor of Religious and Theological Studies, Merrimack College

5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m.

Reception and continuing conversation
Fens Room at the Sheraton Hotel (39 Dalton Street)

Meals, Accommodation, and Transportation

Registered participants were invited to the concluding reception (complimentary snacks and hors d’oeuvres; cash bar); lunch was on their own. Because this is a one-day conference, lodging needs varied. Members of the American Academy of Religion who were registered for the Annual Meeting could obtain discounted lodging through the AAR. Details concerning area hotels, as well as airport transfer and parking information, is available online.

NetVUE is a program of the Council of Independent Colleges and is grateful to the Lilly Endowment, Inc. for its generous support of this event.