Liberal Learning as a Quest for Purpose

ISBN : 9780190499242

William M. Sullivan
248 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2016
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In a remarkable experiment lasting over a decade, a group of 88 independent campuses, ranging from comprehensive universities to intimate colleges, have demonstrated the value of an emerging educational agenda focused on meaning and purpose. These programs have shown that college can provide emerging adults with an understanding of themselves within today's insecure and highly competitive world that enhances their ability to develop the "grit" needed to create meaningful lives. By focusing on the exploration of vocation and its theological foundations, these efforts produced remarkable outcomes in enhanced student engagement in learning and more effective entry into adult life. Discernment of vocation provides for many students, a synthetic and compelling focus for intellectual and practical exploration. Sustained by articulate reflection and grounded in communities of learning that included faculty as well as students, undergraduate life takes on new significance and urgency. Liberal Learning as a Quest for Purpose analyzes a series of successful efforts to reconfigure undergraduate education as a journey toward life purpose. The book ties together the liberal arts, personal development, and preparation for life through the exploration of vocation, including the probing of vocation's religious roots amid its contemporary resonances. Examining the experiences of students and faculty, the book reveals the concrete importance of this educational agenda for individual lives and particular campuses. By connecting the several dimensions of undergraduate experience through reflection on purpose, these programs expanded the bandwidth of academic learning in energizing and exploratory ways. Within the larger, troubled environment of contemporary higher education, these pioneering efforts hold promise for a significant rethinking of the undergraduate experience to better serve students and society.


Introduction: What Should I Be Doing with My Life?
Chapter 1: Personal Meaning, Public Purpose
Chapter 2: Grounding Liberal Education
Chapter 3: The Examined Life: Reflection and Practical Wisdom
Chapter 4: Renewing Heritage to Meet the Contemporary Challenge
Chapter 5: How Vocation Integrates: The Virtue of Community
Chapter 6: Recovering Liberal Education's Humanistic Aims
Chapter 7: The Theological Perspective as Educational Resource

About the author: 

William M. Sullivan is a senior scholar at The New American Colleges and Universities, and Visiting Professor at the Center for the Study of Professions at the University College of Oslo and Askershus in Norway.

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