Justice Education

Virtues & Vocations is a national forum for scholars and practitioners across disciplines to consider how best to cultivate character in pre-professional and professional education. Virtues & Vocations hosts faculty workshops and monthly webinars, and engages issues of character, professional identity and moral purpose through our publications.


2024 Events & Webinar Series

Greg Jones and Clayton Spencer

A Conversation on Purpose

with Greg Jones and Clayton Spencer

Monday, May 13, 2024, noon – 1 pm, webinar

Greg Jones, President of Belmont University, and Clayton Spencer, former President of Bates College will discuss the ways higher education can promote purpose. Jones and Spencer each wrote articles on purpose for the Spring 2024 issue of Virtues & Vocations: Higher Education for Human Flourishing. They will reflect on their own roles and articles as well as other pieces from this issue.

2024 Virtues & Vocations Conference

Higher Education & Human Flourishing

We will host a conference on Higher Education & Human Flourishing June 3-5, 2024 at the University of Notre Dame.

Cover artwork: “Over the Rainbow” by Stephen Conroy © 2021

Reimagining Purpose

L. Gregory Jones

Higher education as an industry needs to be re-imagined. The challenges we face are too numerous to think we are just dealing with a series of complicated problems that can be attacked one at a time. Rather, they are complex problems that require creative solutions. 

Howard Gardner

As I enter my ninth decade and reflect back, I am reminded of several years ago when my friends Bill Damon and Anne Colby asked me about my sense of purpose. . . As I look back now, I can see many ways that my curiosity, though internally motivated, blossomed through collaborative relationships and still seems generative in new and sometimes surprising ways.

A Case for the Liberal Arts

Clayton Spencer

If motivating and equipping our students to live lives of meaning and contribution is a core purpose of the liberal arts, then work is central to the project. Whatever a person’s particular interests, choices, or constraints, most people wish to figure out a way to stay healthy and happy, to nourish human connection, and to leave the world—or at least their corner of it—better than they found it. 

Carolyn Woo

The search for purpose inevitably turns our sight outward to the needs of the world and how we can make life better for others near and far. Yet, ironically, the journey must start with a focus on the self. To figure out our calling, we must first probe what we wish to offer and why. Before attention to others, purpose is first and foremost the giving of self: of our talents, training and education, efforts and persistence, attention and discernments, imagination, aspiration, and passion.

This Month's Newsletters

Physicians James and Margaret Plews-Ogan apply their years of research on practical wisdom to their lives since James' ALS diagnosis. They share how their own sense of purpose has changed, and provide ways of reimagining the possibilities for virtue within loss and grief.

Rabbi Sharon Brous founded IKAR, a dynamic, multi-generational Jewish community striving to help its members discover healing, purpose, and connection through their ancient faith. In The Amen Effect (Penguin Random House, 2024), Brous shares the hard fought lessons she’s discovered along the way, with the hope that her experience can cast a vision not just for IKAR but for society at large, a vision that can help us bridge our differences in an increasingly fractured age.

Since 2020, the Leadership for Flourishing network has hosted an online community of practice to help members connect leadership practices to ecosystem-wide flourishing. With participants from institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, and West Point, there are a wide variety of experiences and perspectives represented as members work to grow and support each other.

Contact Us

Erin Collazo Miller
Project Director

Wes Siscoe
Postdoctoral Fellow