The Well: How open are you about your faith?

You don’t have to go to this extent to be open about your faith on campus.

I’ve mentioned The Well here on the blog before — it’s a terrific resource put together by our colleagues with InterVarsity’s Women in the Academy and Professions. While their focus is, well, women in the academy and professions, anyone interested in the navigating the intersection between Christianity and the academy ought to be reading The Well.

One of their regular features is Dear Mentor, which poses a question to several experienced mentors from academia and the professional world. This month’s The Well email included a Dear Mentor column that raised a question we’ve dealt on several occasions: how open should you be about your faith?

Do you, and how do you, speak openly about your faith within academia? What constraints do you run up against? It seems that even for Christians who are passionate about integration of faith and learning, there still remain areas which are “off-limits” for one or the other. How do you deal with these areas, and do you have advice for those of us who struggle (as I do) with attempting to live un-compartmentalized lives?

I was especially struck by this comment from Sylvia Chen, senior counsel for Motorola, who drew on her experience as a law student:

I would encourage any Christian professors, in whatever way they can, to continually challenge themselves to take career risks in an effort to live less divided lives and encourage their students. (Emphasis added)

I appreciated her acknowledgement of the risk involved…and the potential benefit to others. Even though I work for a Christian campus ministry, Chen’s words challenge me to consider whether I’m considering the impact of my actions on other people, especially when I’m taking a personal risk or stepping outside my comfort zone.

Read all the responses, which, in addition to Chen, include Kelly Aukema (a postdoc in biochemistry), biology professor Dorothy Boorse, and Kelly Monroe Kullberg (author of one of the books I’m still planning to read this summer). Are there any quotes that you’d like to highlight from the responses? Do you have any additional thoughts to share?

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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