The Purposeful Graduate

Why Colleges Must Talk to Students about Vocation

Tim Clydesdale

The Purposeful Graduate
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Tim Clydesdale

320 pages | 6 line drawings, 6 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9780226236346 Will Publish March 2015
E-book $18.00 ISBN: 9780226236483 Will Publish March 2015
We all know that higher education has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Historically a time of exploration and self-discovery, the college years have been narrowed toward an increasingly singular goal—career training—and college students these days forgo the big questions about who they are and how they can change the world and instead focus single-mindedly on their economic survival. In The Purposeful Graduate, Tim Clydesdale elucidates just what a tremendous loss this is, for our youth, our universities, and our future as a society. At the same time, he shows that it doesn’t have to be this way: higher education can retain its higher cultural role, and students with a true sense of purpose, of personal, cultural, and intellectual value that cannot be measured by a wage, can be streaming out of every one of its institutions.
The key, he argues, is simple: direct, systematic, and creative programs that engage undergraduates on the question of purpose. Backing up his argument with rich data from a Lilly Endowment grant that funded such programs on 88 different campuses, he shows that thoughtful engagement of the notion of vocational calling by students, faculty, and staff can bring rich rewards for all those involved: greater intellectual development, more robust community involvement, and a more proactive approach to lifelong goals. Nearly every institution he examines—from internationally acclaimed research universities to small liberal arts colleges—is a success story, each designing and implementing its own program, in accord with its own culture and policies, that provides students with deep resources that help them to launch flourishing lives as engaged citizens.
Flying in the face of the overwhelmingly pessimistic forecast of higher education’s emaciated future, Clydesdale offers a profoundly rich alternative, one that can be achieved. As this powerful book shows, all it takes is a commitment to exploration, a sensitivity to the extremely crucial part of life that is the college experience, and the courage to talk with students about who they are and what they are meant to do.  

1 Purposeful Paths
2 Contexts
3 Matters of Design
4 Students
5 Faculty and Staff
6 Strategies and Ecologies
7 Larger Lessons

Appendix 1: List of Participating Institutions in the Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation Initiative, 2000–2009
Appendix 2: Methodology
Appendix 3: Interview and Survey Questions
Appendix 4: Visited Campuses, Program Participation, and Postaward Continuation
Appendix 5: Resources for Purpose Exploration Programming

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