Thursday, October 27-Saturday, October 29
Amid these challenges, it is not clear what people expect colleges and universities to do in the first place. Should they primarily be devoted to job placement for their graduates? Should they at the same time advance research across the disciplines in ways that expand the frontiers of knowledge? Should they seek to form their students intellectually, morally, and even spiritually while preparing them for responsible citizenship and civic engagement? Should they also be the places where enthusiastic sports fans gather in grand arenas and stadiums to watch athletes pursue victory? With so many competing expectations, it is no wonder that so many institutions seem to be suffering something akin to an identity crisis.
Perhaps some of these challenges and expectations might be better navigated by considering anew the goal of higher learning.
Join us as we explore these questions during the 2016 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, “Higher Learning,” on October 27-29.
Confirmed Speakers Include:
- James Davison Hunter, University of Virginia
- Candace Vogler, University of Chicago
- David I. Smith, Calvin College
- Patrick Deneen, University of Notre Dame
- John Haldane, Baylor University
- Minette Drumwright, University of Texas
- Francis Su, Harvey Mudd College
- Chad Wellmon, University of Virginia
- Simon Oliver, Durham University
Christina Crenshaw, PhD, Director for Truett's Youth Spirituality and Sports Institute: Running the Race Well, at Baylor University
Faith-informed Practice: How the Integration of Faith and Learning Influences Pedagogy
In the beginning, there was work, and it was good. God worked designing the heavens and the earth and mankind. God then purposed mankind to work in communion with him, as a holy offering to him. Long before the Fall, there was work, and it was an act of worship. The Fall, however, distorted our understanding of work, and it severed our work-worship relationship with God. This severed fellowship has made it difficult for Christians to understand how best to integrate their faith and their work, and as a result, Christians more often tend to see their work as either sacred or secular. Some are taught in Christian circles the only value their faith has in public spheres is evangelizing to their friends and coworkers. Others view their work merely as a means of earning enough money to donate to church and missions. But neither of these perspectives is a complete picture of God's plan and purpose for our work. It's through our vocations-- our God-given strengths and talents-- we work for the common good, in fellowship with Him, and as an act of worship.
Is there a difference between preparing university students with a vocational perspective versus and faith-work integration perspective? Throughout history, Christianity has preserved the fundamental idea that our lives and all its facets count for something because God has a divine plan for us. Yet, traditional conversations regarding work and faith have limited themselves to professional spheres, but such conversations are indeed limiting. Any perspective that does not consider our professional work a mere extension of a more encompassing vocational call is an incomplete understanding of God's original work-worship design. Yes, our faith influences our professions; it influences all we do. A vocational approach to our work brings congruence between who God designed us to be and what he designed us to do, both professionally and personally. Integrating a vocational work perspective into higher education pedagogy and praxis provides students a more holistic, more biblical approach to God's work-worship relationship.
In a Vocational Leadership course I teach at Baylor, the majority of my students initially struggle to make sense of their faith and their work; they see most professions as either sacred or secular. A professional call to be a pastor or overseas missionary, for example, is sacred, but to be a doctor or lawyer is decidedly more secular, they believe. Students also report feeling the only value their faith has in their work is evangelizing to their coworkers or earning enough income to donate to the church and missions. Less surprising but equally concerning, most students express a lack of understanding for how their personal life contributes to kingdom work. If, for instance, they step outside the sphere of professional work, students then wonder if their work as a mother, a care-giver, a community volunteer, will have any work value. If they change careers, did their calling and purpose change, too?
Vocation is more than work, and calling is more than our desires. These are the themes on which the course is premised. The course is designed to guide students in thinking about God's calling on their life and what this means for their professional and personal leadership decisions. Through the course, students study the concept of vocational calling and its connections to leadership, as it relates to several key themes: Faith, service, justice, relationships, work, and leadership. The class is approached from a distinctly Christian perspective; however, the themes and applications discussed are relevant to people of any faith background. In the course, students develop their personal and professional growth and leadership. They are given opportunity to consider their unique vocational call and purpose as they explore how their personal strengths, faith, values, and aspirations influence the world and can work toward the common good. Students develop their sense of vocation as they study a variety of historical and contemporary perspectives on vocation and calling.
The course aims to meet the following five objectives:
1. Explain the concept of vocational calling.
2. Apply multiple leadership theories to the concept of vocational calling.
3. Relate students strengths and values to their vocational aspirations.
4. Evaluate tools and practices that aid in vocational discernment.
5. Study agent of change leaders who have used their vocational calling to contribute to the common good.
This presentation seeks to answer the following questions as we grapple with how best to integrate a vocational perspective into Christian higher education:
I. What is a historical and contemporary view of vocation?
II. Is a vocational perspective more of a work-worship relationship than traditional faith integration approaches?
III. What does a vocational leadership course entail?
IV. How do universities implement vocation in both pedagogy and praxis and to what end?