This paper explores the implications for chaplaincy on the campus of a secular, pluralistic liberal arts college of a month-long immersion in Nicaragua as part of a January-term travel course. After considering several aspects of young adult development—the basic process of faith development, the prophetic possibilities of experiential education, and the shape of the archetypal quest for an authentic spirituality—the project proceeds to an analysis of the reflections of participants in five different iterations of the travel course, spanning a decade. In shaping the experience of the students, and in accompanying them during their immersion, the chaplain can serve as an enabler of a quality of prophetic education which is often not available in more conventional campus pedagogy. The chaplain can create a “mentoring community” that can serve as a holding environment for students' work on high-stakes “big questions” of meaning, purpose, value, destiny. The chaplain models key disciplines such as reflection, repentance, hospitality, and critical perspective on privilege and education, in the course of making accessible to students an experience of solidarity—defined as that quality of experiential education that occurs at the place where intellect meets compassion. Such education respects the boundaries of secularity and pluralism that help to define the liberal arts context, yet foments within them a deeper engagement with essential spiritual questions and an awareness of the spectrum of religious practices and perspectives available for further exploration as the quests of young adulthood proceed.
The project report is framed by autobiographical reflections which locate the author's own “explorations in solidarity,” as a Christian pilgrim and as an aspiring college chaplain, in the context of the volatile history of Nicaragua in relation to the United States in the late twentieth century, and of the emerging paradigms of higher education ministry that place high value on diversity and pluralism at the outset of the twenty-first century.
|School Location:||United States -- Connecticut|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, Clerical studies|
|Keywords:||Chaplaincy, Massachusetts, Pluralism, Prophetic mission, Secularity, Williams College|
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