CIC’s Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) is accepting proposals for a new grant of up to $40,000, which is expected to be awarded to twenty member institutions in its first round. This new offering, Grants for Fostering Leadership for Communities of Faith, encourages intentional programming and thoughtful mentoring in support of undergraduate students who are considering possible callings to leadership roles in faith communities. Grant funds can be used to develop or extend programming for students, and/or professional development for faculty members and staff, with the goal of connecting students to local faith communities and supporting them as they explore and discern their callings. Initiatives may be developed within or across a variety of academic departments and campus offices, and are designed to involve leaders of one or more faith communities near campus.
The new grant program is available to all NetVUE member institutions; it is not restricted to church-related colleges and universities. Many secular institutions, too, have recognized that they have significant numbers of undergraduate students who are involved with faith communities and/or actively seeking a fuller understanding of their own religious and spiritual lives. Among these are some who are considering the possibility of providing some form of leadership, whether lay or ordained, within a particular faith tradition. And most CIC institutions have active churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship located on or near campus. This provides a perfect opportunity for study groups, internships, and many other forms of cooperation between these local faith communities and their neighboring institutions of higher education; CIC is eager to support such efforts through this new grant program. Proposals are due December 15, 2023; for more information, view or download the official Invitation for Applications (PDF) on the NetVUE website, or contact Carter Aikin, NetVUE grants director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In early October, CIC announced the opening of registration for the 2024 NetVUE Conference, which will take place March 21–23 in Atlanta. By the following week, twenty NetVUE institutions had already registered their three- to five-person teams! The quick response is a testimony to how significant this gathering has become over NetVUE’s 15-year history; indeed, the most recent conference drew nearly 800 participants from over 200 NetVUE member institutions.
The theme of the 2024 Conference is “Vocation for the Life of the World.” When asked about their reasons for pursuing higher education, entering students overwhelmingly focus on their expectations of improved job prospects and other elements of professional preparation. But once they have spent some time at college (and especially at liberal arts institutions), they increasingly describe themselves as eager to make a larger impact: to “help people,” to “make a difference,” or even to “change the world.” The 2024 NetVUE Conference will consider how college and university leaders can support these students as they formulate these plans and prepare themselves to pursue them. Headlining the conference are three plenary sessions, each led by a major voice in the field:
- Meghan Sullivan, O’Brien Collegiate Chair and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, will deliver the Thursday afternoon keynote address, “Called to Understand and Advocate for the Common Good.”
- Darby Kathleen Ray, Harward Professor of Civic Engagement and Professor of Religious Studies at Bates College, will guide small groups through Friday’s roundtable plenary, “Hunger, Hubris, and Community Engaged Learning.: Strategies for Slowing Down, Going Deeper, and Doing Better.”
- Walter Earl Fluker, Dean’s Professor of Spirituality, Ethics, and Leadership at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University, will provide the closing address on Saturday: “Called to Ethical Leadership at Intersections Where Worlds Collide.”
In addition, focused workshops will cover topics such as character education, identity and belonging, working with student athletes, trauma and hardship, and leisure as an element of vocation. In a new feature of this year’s conference, a session called “Is This My Calling? Or Just My Major?” will help participants consider the vocational challenges faced by students in particular areas of study, including health professions, business, the humanities, education, and the arts. Member institutions are also encouraged to submit a proposal for a one-hour campus-based session. Four optional pre- and post-conference workshops will appeal to faculty members, staff in mission and ministry, and those seeking to assess vocation-related work on campus and to tell their stories of success.
NetVUE programs and services are financed through NetVUE-specific dues paid by its member institutions, not by CIC member dues. The majority of NetVUE funding is provided through the generosity of Lilly Endowment Inc., which has awarded nearly $40 million to CIC for this program over its brief history. Throughout the current academic year, CIC will launch several new NetVUE programs, all funded by the most recent award from Lilly, which provided over $13 million for this work. Details about these new programs will appear in the next issue of this newsletter.
For information about joining NetVUE, see the membership page on the NetVUE website. For questions about the program, contact David S. Cunningham, executive director of NetVUE, at email@example.com or (616) 632-1060.