Engaging students in the classroom continues to be an essential yet challenging part of undergraduate education. Popular culture can provide an additional avenue for connection. Exploring meaning and purpose can be a creative and effective way to bring contemporary media into the classroom. On September 26, 2023, NetVUE hosted a webinar focused on vocational elements in current films. Four speakers discussed their experiences using film and provided strategies for integrating movies in our work with students.
Brian Bowman teaches at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and specializes in storytelling though media. He is a certified College Media Advisor. Brian presented on the vocational elements in Oppenheimer, specifically mentorship and the pursuit of a calling when facing difficult decisions.
The second speaker was Antonios Finitsis, director of the Wild Hope Center for Vocation and professor of Hebrew Bible at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Tony discussed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, centering on the balance of inner desires and outer needs. Like in the film, students’ vocational journeys rarely following a clear path and often include disruption.
Martin Dotterweich then discussed Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. He directs the Institute for Faith and Culture at King University in Bristol, Tennessee. He outlined five ways in which the movie addresses vocation: the quest, the precious thing, the danger, the classroom, and the family. Additionally, Martin considered how aging may impact purpose and meaning.
The final speaker was Marie Drews, who serves as an associate professor of English at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She specializes in women’s literature, racial/ethnic identity, and texts associated with visual and material culture. Marie looked at vocational discernment in Barbie, particularly self-awakening and vocational limitation in the context of injustice and oppression.
The concluding thirty minutes of the webinar were dedicated to questions from participants, including questions about specific approaches to integrating vocation and film in the classroom. Additional related resources were also provided: Callings podcast episodes The Office and the Soul and Vocational Advice for Undergrads Season 3 Highlights, as well as blog posts on Vocation and the Apocalypse: McCarthy’s The Road and Plurality of Vocations: Finding Seasons Rather Than Singularity.
The webinar was recorded and can be accessed here. Please note that when you go to this link, it will prompt you to share your name and email address, but this is not a login; it simply allows NetVUE to keep track of interest. You are unlikely to receive any follow-up emails unless you are at a NetVUE member institution. However, if you do, you’ll have the opportunity to unsubscribe.
Rachel F. Pickett is the webinar coordinator for NetVUE.