Tag Archives: Chronicle of Higher Education

Are we in academe’s “faith and work moment”?


Photo by Jeremy McGilvrey on Unsplash

Further to my piece yesterday – “Readings on the vocations, and challenges, of professors today” – and building on recent experiences of reading several dozen Chronicle of Higher Education articles and convening several groups of professors, here’s a reflection on the “moment” academe seems to be experiencing right now.

Back in March, I had the honor of convening several groups of theological educators (seminary and college faculty) to explore their vocational development needs. One question I asked was about the current vocational challenges faculty are facing. After breaking into small groups, we heard reports from each. One group identified these challenges (rendered here in note format):

  • Anxiety with changes, transition to virtual work – is this real education? Am I doing it well? Not as satisfying. Missing potential for formation?
  • Sense of living and working in a time of transition – everyone knows education is ripe for disruptive innovation
  • Identity: am I simply a professor or also a mentor, coach, something else? – transitions in teaching (and student needs and preferences) lead to questions of identity
  • The need for rest, with some burnout: schools have tighter budgets, are asking people to do more

As I read these notes, I was getting a strong feeling of déjà vu – where had we seen a combination of factors similar to this before? And it dawned on me: this was reminding me of David Miller’s characterization, in his book God at Work, of the 1980s-90s in the American business world, the rise of the “third wave” of the faith and work movement, and his description of the factors and pressures that led boomers to turn to questions of spirituality (both new age and traditionally religious) related to their work, in search of a revived and restructured identity and a recovered vocational satisfaction.

I went back and re-read the main section of Miller that dealt with this and that made the link between vast changes in the business sector (in particular) and an increased focus on “spiritual” issues related to work. I’m pasting it below, then I want to draw out the parallel with today’s higher ed situation and faculty’s current vocational experience.

Continue reading

Book- and library-lovers take heart: Five myths about the “Information Age”


the map division room of the New york Public l...

The map division room of the New York Public Library

H/t to my librarian-professor friend Jennifer Woodruff Tait for alerting me to this cool article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. It should warm the hearts of all book-lovers. Oh, and it’s by Robert Darnton, historian of the book. Yes, there is a field of scholarly study called “history of the book”–and a fascinating one it is! Darnton, you need to know, penned one of the all-time best book titles: The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. Doesn’t that make you want to read the book?

Some snippets from the article:

1. “The book is dead.” Wrong: More books are produced in print each year than in the previous year. One million new titles will appear worldwide in 2011. In one day in Britain—”Super Thursday,” last October 1—800 new works were published.

2. “We have entered the information age.” This announcement is usually intoned solemnly, as if information did not exist in other ages. But every age is an age of information, each in its own way and according to the media available at the time.

Continue reading