Remembering Frederick Buechner, 1926-2022

Wikimedia Commons

Many readers will immediately associate the name Frederick Buechner with a passage from Wishful Thinking that they know by heart: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It’s a rich sentence, full of possibility, and has been foundational for many of us in helping students through vocational discernment. But Buechner said a great deal more about vocation, whether in essays or fiction or memoir, and I’d like to explore his wider vision briefly as we mourn his death on August 15, 2022, at the age of 96.

Continue reading

Discovering the Contours of Vocation through Undergraduate Summer Research

What is the purpose of undergraduate research in the humanities? We may agree that college and university students aspiring to graduate studies benefit from the experience of researching and that a well-crafted research paper contributes to their graduate school applications. We may also concede that developing a research question and carrying out an investigation helps humanities students who are not bound for graduate school to develop important analytical, problem-solving, writing, and time-management skills.

But is that it? Humanities research really only benefits a few declared majors already heading to grad school and assists others with soft skills? If this were the case, then there would be little point for students to engage in research outside of their disciplinary majors. Yet general education courses still require the use of primary sources, reviews of scholarly literature, argument analysis, and final projects—all forms of investigative research. The more students I mentor in shaping investigative projects, the more I find that “doing research” directly engages students in understanding the contours of their own vocations—that place where their deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger, as Frederick Buechner has said.

I have found the clearest examples of students engaging their vocations through investigative research in

Continue reading