WABASH CALLINGS: Exploring Vocational Identity and Purpose
A NetVUE-Affilliated Program
The NetVUE-affiliated program at Wabash College, Callings: Exploring Vocational Identity and Purpose, is committed to fostering sustained reflection on vocation among students, faculty, and staff, while providing students with experiential learning opportunities to help them explore their vocational identities. Consonant with Wabash’s history as an independent college founded by Presbyterian ministers, the Callings program seeks to draw upon multiple traditions, both theological and secular, in exploring the concept of vocation and its role in our lives.
As one of only four colleges for men in the country, Wabash has a unique opportunity to tackle the vocational challenges facing young men in our society. Many commentators have noted that young men today struggle to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Notable symptoms include an “extended adolescence” that last through the 20s and widespread confusion about future direction and responsibilities. Many young men show inadequate preparation for adulthood. Among the many causes of this situation, we believe too few young men are animated by a rich vocational vision providing energy, identity, and purpose. Wabash is a perfect place to engage this important national issue. Wabash consistently challenges young men “to take their lives seriously.” In this context where the growth and maturity of young men is a central focus inside and outside the classroom, Callings provides high impact opportunities to reflect upon and explore vocational identities.
The Callings program supports the mission of Wabash College to “educate young men to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.” Our curriculum stands in the great tradition of the liberal arts in its breadth of content and focus on developing the whole person. We aim to develop the habits of mind, core competencies and skills, and soundness of character that will equip our young men to succeed in a variety of careers or graduate programs. This approach makes all the more important an effort like Callings, which enables students to reflect on how their gifts, passions, and education intersect with the needs of society and the world at large.
We invite speakers to campus to address promises and prospects of vocational discernment through personal or academic work and from both theological and secular points of view.
We encourage students to engage in finding and understanding callings through a rigorous curriculum.
In mentor communities, a small group organizes around a shared set of interests, questions, and goals to pursue them in common. Mentor communities feature mutually-enriching relationships and the expectation that participants will both teach and learn with each other. While a mentoring community includes leadership from a team devoted to student engagement in vocational discernment, it does not replicate the traditional mentor structure. Rather, as Sharon Daloz Parks has described it in Big Questions, Worthy Dreams (2011, p. 175), mentors provide “a context in which a new, more adequate imagination of life and work can be explored, created, and anchored in a sense of we.” Mentors engage in dialogue and action with students, as with each other, in order to model the quest for discernment and encourage students to take a similar engaged stance with their peers. Quests and Questions is a collaboration between students and faculty aimed at facilitating rich discussion of callings and vocational discernment within an engaged group of students and providing a venue for sharing their lessons with each other and the community. In addition, students receive funded opportunities to explore their callings by attending conferences, pursuing internships and externships, and engaging in distinctive community service.
Externships are brief (1 day to 1 week), unpaid opportunities to participate in the daily life of a professional in a career field, industry, or organization. Wabash promotes externships as a signature way for students to explore vocational options first-hand with greater rigor than job-shadowing and less overhead commitment than an internship. At that early stage of discernment where multiple experiences and careful reflection contribute much to a student’s basic orientation toward future activity, an externship plays the role of a controlled experiment. We fund 15-25 distinct externs with up to $200 per externship, allowing students to pursue their best opportunities in a concrete way.
Non-Profit Internship Program
Service- and non-profit work traditionally contribute to students’ understanding of their callings and support life-long commitments to serving others even when their professional work is in another area. Yet many internships remain inaccessible in these fields because they are unpaid. We help support students pursue these internships in which they gain key insights and build core competencies for lives of future service. We support two internships per year.
Faculty/Staff Brown Bag Lunch
Wabash Callings only works when many in the Wabash community understand and appreciate its initiatives. We support reading groups among faculty and staff to continue our own develop and build strong and supportive relationships.
ROSTER OF CALLINGS LEADERS
Callings Steering Committee
Jon Baer, Associate Professor of Religion, Co-Director of Callings
James Jeffries, Assistant Director of Career Services, Co-Director of Callings
Michael Brown, Associate Dean of the College, Director of the Malcolm X Institute for Black Studies
Will Oprisko, Associate Dean of Students
Brian Tucker, Associate Professor of German, member of the Pre-Law Committee
Jill Rogers, Pre-Health Advisor
Anne Bost, Assistant Professor of Biology
Clyde Morgan, Head Coach, Track and Field
Callings operates under the purview and with the support of Gary Phillips, Dean of the College
Department of Religion
P.O. Box 352
Crawfordsville, IN 47933
P.O. Box 352
Crawfordsville, IN 47933