Any relationship can be therapeutic, according to Carl Rogers (1902-1987). In psychology there are many theoretical approaches to counseling and various clinical techniques. The common factor among all effective therapies is the working relationship between the two parties. In higher education there are numerous opportunities for building rewarding relationships with students and colleagues. Humanism’s approach of emphasizing relationship, strengths, and human potential make it a particularly useful framework for undergraduate mentoring relationships that foster vocational discernment.Continue reading
I was on vacation in early September, and wouldn’t you know it—that’s exactly when the Chronicle of Higher Education would decide to publish a brief article about two NetVUE institutions and their highly successful vocational exploration programs. I missed it at the time, but it’s certainly not too late to read about the Manresa program at Le Moyne and the Messina program at Loyola University of Maryland. (And if the words Manresa and Messina are obscure to you, the clue is that these are both Jesuit institutions; search on Ignatius of Loyola for more information.) The article is titled At 2 Jesuit Colleges, Aligning Passion and Profession. It’s behind a firewall, but many libraries have a site license, so check with them if you can’t access it. Shout-outs to the visionary leaders at these NetVUE campuses who added their comments to the article: At Loyola, president Brian Linnane, and at Le Moyne, Deborah Cady Melzer, VP for student development, and Steven Affeldt of the philosophy faculty, who is also our NetVUE campus contact.
For those of us who care about guiding students along the path to finding meaning in their lives and work, it seems obvious why a person would want to find such a path. Unfortunately, a big part of that guidance is just convincing students that striving for “meaning” is worthwhile in the first place. That’s because to discern a more meaningful way of life, you must be willing to admit that some ways of life are not as meaningful, and thus not worth pursuing. Even more complicated yet, the ones most worth pursuing will almost certainly require accepting unpleasantness and constraint. Job number one in vocational discernment is identifying why you should even care to “aim higher.” Some metaphors from the early Confucian thinker Mencius (or Mengzi. who would have understood himself as a Ruist rather than as a Confucian) are helpful in working through this problem with students.Continue reading