Liberal Education, Winter 2014

Current Issue


Exploring Purpose and Vocation in College

This special issue presents an overview of the Lilly Endowment's Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation, findings from a national evaluation of the initiative, an examination of the core educational practices, and case studies of participating institutions. Also included are articles on the relation between higher education and national security, LEAP in Texas, hiring practices that are moving faculty off the tenure track, and the new common core at the University of La Verne.

Table of Contents
Guest Message

By Diane White Husic

From 1818 R Street NW

By David Tritelli


By Shirley J. Roels 
PTEV was an experiment to learn how we might reshape effective liberal learning for life, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. The goal was to strengthen an education that could sustain abundant lives for emerging adults, an education in which intellectual and applied learning could converge with resources from moral and theological traditions.

By Tim Clydesdale
Initially dubious that PTEV would accomplish anything more than an increase in maladaptive idealism among self-selecting college students, the author’s study of program outcomes convinced him of the remarkable and enduring effects of purpose and vocation exploration programming on college students, on faculty and staff, and, sometimes, even on whole campuses. 

By William M. Sullivan
Reflection on vocation, grounded in a community of shared interest and support, shifts the framing of higher education. It invites students to engage their college education not as passive consumers, but as protagonists in a collective drama with real import.

By Molly Sutphen
PTEV offered a range of educational activities and opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to reflect on and discern their values, beliefs, and goals. The success of these programs raises the question of how others might create similar opportunities, including at schools that are not faith based. 


By David Skaggs
The ability of the United States to protect itself and its interests around the world depends directly on the strength of our economy. And it is clear that economic strength in the era
of global competition depends on a nation’s educational attainment—most importantly, the percentage of the workforce with postsecondary credentials. 

By Loraine Phillips, David Roach, and Celia Williamson
In Texas, educators working to coordinate the efforts of fifty community colleges, thirty-eight universities, and six university systems are bringing the resources of AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative to bear in order to ensure that the state’s nearly 1.5 million students receive a high-quality liberal education.

By Adrianna Kezar and Sean Gehrke
Faculty hiring practices have changed in recent years: hiring decisions have become decentralized to departments, non-tenure-track faculty appointments are not tracked, strategic planning has been abandoned, and intentional and reflective practices are often absent. This national study of deans explores the reasons for these changes and offers recommendations for improving the decision-making process. 

By Devorah Lieberman
In 2012, the University of La Verne launched the La Verne Experience, the cornerstone of the university’s new long-term strategic plan. For each of the university’s 8,600 students, this signature program provides for the intentional integration of the academic curriculum, cocurricular activities, and civic and community engagement with the university’s values and traditions.


By Kate Queeney
Although faculty generally teach what they are good at, better teaching can result from being reminded regularly and acutely what it’s like to be bad at something, letting someone else see how lost one is, and asking for the help needed to improve. Undergraduate education is and must be as much about character and citizenship as about careers and commerce.

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