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Claiming Our Callings Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts



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Oxford University Press
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The idea of ''vocation'' has fallen out of fashion in twenty-first-century America, replaced with careerism and credentialism. Neither go far in answering the weighty questions of meaning and morality that have always been integral to a vocational pursuit. Kaethe Schwehn and L. DeAne Lagerquist offer perspectives from fourteen professors at St. Olaf College on the value of vocation, showing how a focus on one's calling rather than on success or credentials paves the way for the civic good sought by defenders of liberal arts education.

Moving beyond abstract generalities, the essays in Claiming Our Callings exemplify the reflective practices at the heart of liberal arts, for faculty and students alike. Martin E. Marty once said that "The vocation of St. Olaf is vocation,'' and the contributors to this volume draw on their experiences teaching in a range of departments at the College--from biology and economics to history and religion--to reflect on both their calling as professors and their practices for fostering students' ability to identify their own vocations. All are convinced of the continuing value of the liberal arts, particularly in generating exploration of the meaning and purpose of life. These scholars' varied notions of how vocation is best understood and cultivated reveal the differing religious commitments and pedagogical practices present within their college community. Together they demonstrate how the purposes of their own lives intersect creatively with the purposes of higher education and the needs of their students and the world.

Author Biography

Kaethe Schwehn is Assistant Professor of English at St. Olaf College.

L. DeAne Lagerquist is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Religion Department at St. Olaf College.

Table of Contents

Foreword - Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen
Introduction - Kaethe Schwehn
1. ''Getting a Vocation'': Variations on a Lutheran Theme - L. DeAne Lagerquist
2. Good Work and the Good Life: Vocation as What We Do - James J. Farrell
3. Work in Progress - Diane LeBlanc
4. On Teaching Politics as a Vocation - Douglas Casson
5. Vocation, Psychologically Speaking - Donna K. McMillan
6. Forty-Three and Out: On the Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards of a Vocation - Mark Pernecky
7. Meaningful Lives, Religious Pluralism, and the Case of the Bodhisattva - Barbara E. Reed
8. Professing Vocation by Caring for the Land - Kathleen L. Shea
9. Vocation and Liberal Learning: The Case for the Exploration of Vocation across the Curriculum - Jo Michelle Beld
10. To Practice What We Teach: Action and Reflection - Mary S. Carlsen
11. The Power of Example: Anthropology and Vocation - Thomas Williamson
12. Coming Into Being: Buddhist Meditation and the Practice of Teaching - Carol Holly
13. Professing Religion - John D. Barbour
Afterword - James J. Farrell and L. DeAne Lagerquist

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