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Reimagining the character of professional 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.

Reimagining Education: Conversations on Character and the Common Good

Join us during the 2021-2022 academic year for a monthly webinar to consider issues around virtue in pre-professional and professional education.

Samantha Boardman, MD
Samantha Boardman – On October 25, 2021 at noon, psychiatrist and author of Everyday Vitality, Samantha Boardman, will discuss “Human Flourishing & Everyday Vitality.” There will be time for audience Q&A.

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Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner – On November 29, 2021 at noon, Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor, Howard Gardner, will discuss the question “What is Good Work?” There will be time for audience Q&A.

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John Inazu
John Inazu – On December 13, 2021 at noon, Washington University Professor of Law & Religion, John Inazu, will discuss “Pluralism & the Purpose of Higher Education.” There will be time for audience Q&A.

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Publications

Good Thought — Showcasing scholars from various disciplines reflecting on how issues of virtue and vocation intersect with their work in higher education.

Good Work — Examining different institutions that are addressing issues of virtue and vocation through curricular and co-curricular initiatives.

Good Read — Highlighting inspirational and engaging books about virtue, vocation, purpose, and the state of higher education.

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Past Events

Katy Milkman
Katy Milkman – On September 20, 2021 at noon, Wharton Business School Professor and Co-Director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, Katy Milkman, discussed book, How to Change, connects with virtue and higher education. There will be time for audience Q&A.

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Nicki Washington
“Why should computer science care about identity?” – On May 25, 2021, Duke University Computer Science Professor Nicki Washington discussed the importance of cultural competence in computer science.

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“How can engineering create cultures of belonging?” – On May 18, 2021, Olin College President Gilda Barabino discussed engineering education.

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Bill Damon
“What is the Connection between Purpose and Character?” – On May 11, 2021, Bill Damon, Stanford University Professor of Education and author of The Path to Purpose, discussed the connection between purpose and character.

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Barry Schwartz
“How can higher education cultivate practical wisdom?” – On May 4, 2021, Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology and author of books such as Practical Wisdom and Why We Work discussed the the need for practical wisdom and how it can be cultivated in higher education.

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Johann Neem
“What’s the Point of College?” – On April 27, 2021, Johann Neem, professor of history at Western Washington University and author several books on education discussed the purpose of colleges and universities.
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Erin Cech
“Does telling students to pursue their passion foster inequality?” – On April 20, 2021, University of Michigan sociology professor Erin Cech discussed “the passion principle” and inequality in the workplace.

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James Arthur
“How does the Jubilee Centre Contextualize Character Virtues?” – On April 13, 2021, James Arthur, Professor and Founding Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, discussed contextualizing virtues in education.

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“What Does Kinship have to do with Good Work?” – On April 6, 2021 Father Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart, discussed kinship and community.
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“What Does Math have to do with Character?” – On March 30, 2021Francis Su, Professor of Mathematics and author of Mathematics for Human Flourishing, discussed how studying math can cultivate character and flourishing.

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“What is the Moral Responsibility of Engineers?” – On March 23, 2021, Shoshana Zuboff, Harvard Business School Professor and author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, discussed moral responsibility in the digital age.

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“What Makes a Good Doctor?” – On March 16, Dr. Rana Awdish , Physician and author of In Shock discussed medicine and rethinking how we train doctors as part of the series Reimagining Education: Conversations on Character, Commitment & Community.

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“Why Does Higher Education Struggle with its Commitment to Equity?” – On March 9, 2021, Anthony Jack, Harvard Professor of Education and author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students discussed equity and higher education as part of the series Reimagining Education: Conversations on Character, Commitment & Community.

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PURPOSE & CHARACTER IN HIGHER EDUCATION – On February 3, 2021, Virtues & Vocations presented a discussion with Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch, author and former Morehouse College President Robert Franklin, Jr., and Bates College President Clayton Spencer. They will discuss the current state of higher education and their involvement in initiatives to make issues of purpose and character central to education.

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On January 20, 2021, Virtues & Vocations hosted a meeting on character in medicine with Joseph Jackson, MD (Associate Dean in the Duke University School of Medicine and Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics) in conversation with Lydia Dugdale, MD, MAR (Professor of Medicine and Director, Columbia Center for Medical Ethics), Reeni Abraham, MD (Associate Professor of Medicine and Co-Director, Internal Medicine Clerkship, University of Texas – Southwestern Medical Center) and Andrea Leep Hunderfund, MD (Associate Professor of Neurology, Mayo Clinic).
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As part of the Good Reason: Purpose & Public Policy workshop at Duke University, Virtues & Vocations welcomed Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, nominee to be the 21st Surgeon General and co-chair of President Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. Dr. Murthy spoke on Character, Community, and Public Health.
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On Nov 18, 2020, Virtues & Vocations hosted a meeting on character in engineering with Ravi Bellamkonda, the Vinik Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, Olga Pierrakos, the Founding Chair of the Department of Engineering at Wake Forest University, and Richard Miller, the Founding President of Olin College of Engineering.
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Andrew Delbanco

What is Higher Education For?: On Tuesday, September 22, 2020 Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Associate Research Professor in Sociology and Andrew Delbanco had a conversation on Higher Education. Andrew Delbanco is a professor at Columbia University and president of the Teagle Foundation.

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Race and Purpose in Higher Education: On Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at noon Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Associate Research Professor in Sociology and Tressie McMillan Cottom had a conversation on Race & Purpose in Higher Education. Tressie McMillan Cottom is an associate professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, a senior research professor with the UNC Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life, and a faculty affiliate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. She is also the bestselling author of Thick: And Other Essays and Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.
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Lessons from HBCUs on Cultivating Purpose & Community: On Tuesday August 18, 2020 at noon Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Elwood L. Robinson, Chancellor of Winston Salem State University discussed “Lessons from HBCUs on Cultivating Purpose & Community.”

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Social Upheaval and the Search for Meaning & Purpose: On Tuesday August 4, 2020, Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Associate Research Professor in Sociology, and Emily Esfahani Smith, journalist and author of The Power of Meaning discussed “Social Upheaval and the Search for Meaning & Purpose.”

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Character & Leadership in a Crisis: On Tuesday July 28, 2020 at noon Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Associate Research Professor in Sociology and Nancy Koehn, a historian at the Harvard Business School and author of Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times discussed Character & Leadership in a Crisis.

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Why Institutions Matter for Our Future: On Tuesday July 21, 2020 Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Associate Research Professor in Sociology and Yuval Levin, Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and bestselling author of the recent release A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream discussed “Why Institutions Matter for our Future.”

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Cultivating Resilience for the Road Ahead: On Tuesday July 7, 2020 Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Associate Research Professor in Sociology and Angela Duckworth, Founder & CEO of Character Lab, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance had a conversation about “Cultivating Resilience for the Road Ahead.”

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Additional Information

The June 2020 Virtues & Vocations conference was cancelled in response to COVID-19. We will be hosting virtual engagements throughout 2020-2021, and hosting a conference in 2022.

  • Suzanne Shanahan Nanerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics Associate Research Professor, Dept of Sociology Duke University; Durham, NC
  • Carole Basile Dean and Professor, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Arizona State University; Tempe, AZ
  • Thomas Hibbs President, Professor of Philosophy University of Dallas; Irving, TX
  • L. Gregory Jones Dean of the Divinity School Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology & Christian Ministry Duke University; Durham, NC
  • Cheryl Maurana Senior VP for Strategic Academic Partnerships; Professor of Population Health Founding Director, Kern National Network for Caring and Character in Medicine Medical College of Wisconsin; Milwaukee, WI
  • Christian Miller AC Reid Professor of Philosophy Wake Forest University; Winston-Salem, NC
  • Richard K. Miller President and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Olin College of Engineering; Needham, MA
  • Chris Stawski Senior Fellow, Kern Family Foundation Affiliate Assistant Professor, Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education, Medical College of Wisconsin
  • David Toole Associate Professor of the Practice; Theology, Ethics and Global Health Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Initiatives, Divinity School Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics Duke University; Durham, NC