Meaning-Making During Emerging Adulthood

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Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Scheduled Time: 12:00pm – 5:00pm, November 2, 2017
Hosted by the Religion and Spirituality Topic Network

Session Description:

The theme for this pre-conference workshop is on meaning making during emerging adulthood. Taking an innovative approach, this workshop intentionally does not employ the traditional conference format of hosting keynote speakers who present on an academic paper and then entertain questions. Instead, the workshop is organized around the interests of emerging adults, with scholars and practitioners asked to reflect upon and interpret how their work contributes to and helps to contextualize emerging adult interests. Topics for the workshop include ambiguity in adulthood transitions; navigating meaning making during emerging adulthood; religious and spiritual development; understanding negative labeling of Millennials; how technology and social media are shaping identity construction; impacts of the current political context on emerging adult meaning making; tips for submitting grant proposals; and views on careers, vocation, and life purpose at work. The workshop welcomes emerging adults, scholars, practitioners, religious and civic leaders, and funders to discuss and interact.


12:00pm – 1:00pm

Welcome & Introductions by Patricia Snell Herzog and Ofra Mayseless

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Critical Dialogue on Meaning Making During Emerging Adulthood
Carolyn McNamara Barry, Loyola University of Maryland
Mona Abo-Zena, University of Massachusetts

In this critical dialogue, authors Carolyn Barry and Mona Abo-Zena provide an overview of their book entitled, Emerging Adults Religiousness and Spirituality: Meaning-Making in an Age of Transition, by discussing the first two chapters on religious and spiritual development and on navigating meaning making during emerging adulthood.

Ralph Piedmont, Loyola University Maryland
Bijaya Kumar Malik, NCERT

In response, Ralph Piedmont discusses his scholarship on pastoral counseling, including spiritual transcendence as an important protector against workplace burnout. Subsequently, Bijaya Kumar Malik discusses youth development across different economic and cultural conditions.

2:00pm – 2:15pm

Break: Brief Informal Discussions

2:15pm – 3:00pm

Panel on the Impact of Technology: Social Media and Identity


De’Andre T. Beadle and Tasmiah Amreen, Emerging Adults

In this panel discussion, De’Andre Beadle and Tasmiah Amreen begin by reflecting from emerging adult perspectives on the impact of social media on identity, especially focusing on the pros and cons of social media in terms of how it is viewed within their personal networks compared to how it is viewed generally. Subsequently, Patricia Snell Herzog reviews research by Danah Boyd of Microsoft Research and New York University in providing an overview of the scholarship on youth and social media, focusing in particular on the ways online networks, and the data they reveal, are changing the ways young people connect. Herzog discusses implications for religion and spirituality, and needed methodological changes.

3:00pm – 3:15pm

Break: Brief Informal Discussions

3:15pm – 4:00pm

Practice Seminar on Career Preparedness: Purposes and Parachutes


Bryn Smernoff, Emerging Adult
Daniel E. Harris, Tyson Center for Faith & Spirituality in the Workplace

In this panel discussion, Bryn Smernoff begins by reflecting from an emerging adult perspective on career preparedness. Bryn highlights the concerns, hopes, and confusions that emerging adults have regarding how to launch well into meaningful work; how to understand the role of faith, spirituality, or religiosity in the process of establishing life purpose through an intentional career design; and what it means to leave a legacy in fluid and mobile work contexts. In reflecting on career options, Bryn will engage the work of Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job Hunters & Career Changers.

Subsequently, Daniel Harris provides an overview of his work engaging students in developing their sense of purpose by reflecting on their faith and its meaning for their life’s work. Harris reviews a range of approaches that teachers in higher education can use to engage students in meaning making in ways that are culturally sensitive and demographically appropriate. Drawing on anecdotes from his network of academics and practitioners affiliated with business schools, Harris shares innovations in curriculum designed to stimulate students in thinking about the big questions of life – especially what gives their lives a sense of meaning and purpose. In conclusion, Harris reflects on the implications of these course designs for studies of student impact and the challenges of measurement.

4:00pm – 4:15pm

Break: Brief Informal Discussions

4:15pm – 5:00pm

Granting on Religion, Spirituality, Youth, and Life Course Development


Chanon Ross, Lilly Endowment

In this grant workshop, Channon Ross of the Lilly Endowment, Inc. discusses tips for submitting grant proposals on topics related to religion and spirituality, especially in engaging their intersection with youth and life course development. Ross reviews existing granting, and tips for successful proposals based on current awardees. Subsequently, Ross reflects on current and future funding initiatives and shares particulars on how the Lilly proposal process occurs.

Open discussion and questions from workshop participants.