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Wild Hope Center for Vocation awarded grant to establish new faculty/staff institute

Wild Hope Center for Vocation awarded grant to establish new faculty/staff institute

Posted by:
June 21, 2021
By Veronica Craker
PLU Marketing and Communications

Pacific Lutheran University’s Wild Hope Center for Vocation is pleased to announce it has been awarded a two-year, $49,612 NETVUE program development grant from the Council for Independent Colleges.

Wild Hope was established in 2003, to support students and faculty as they explore life’s big questions and engage in fulfilling and meaningful work. The program promotes and provides a number of opportunities for the PLU community to engage with, discern, and live out their vocation. The Center’s official mission can be found at

We spoke with Laree Winer, associate director for The Wild Hope Center for Vocation, about the grant and how it will be used to create the Wild Hope Institute to continue to fund the program’s mission. 

How would you describe the mission of the Wild Hope Center for Vocation?

The Wild Hope Center started from a Lily Grant that PLU received in 2003 to promote discussions and reflection about vocation at the university. Vocation is an important Lutheran concept, having to do with meaningful and purposeful work aimed at the common good and human flourishing, and we believe this concept has rich value within and beyond our religious tradition. Since its founding, the Wild Hope Center for Vocation provides resources and events about vocation for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Wild Hope has been awarded a two-year NETVUE Program development grant from the Council for Independent Colleges. What will you seek to accomplish with this grant?

This institute will assist faculty members and staff in their intentional efforts to infuse vocation into their courses, their mentoring work with students, and their own discernment of their calling to teach. The objective is to engage and equip faculty members and staff for meaningful conversations with students and peers related to vocational reflection and discernment. Funded activities will include curriculum and content development focusing on introductory, student success, and capstone courses; research and finalization of delivery modalities; and pilot and assessment of the institute’s initial programming. 

How will the creation of the Wild Hope Institute support and/or create advantages for the PLU community?

Vocation is one of the special gifts that PLU offers because it connects us to our Lutheran roots and helps us all think broadly and holistically about the purposes of our work and commitments to others and the environment. Some faculty have already built vocation into their teaching and mentoring, and the institute will provide a way for us to share the good work that is already being done and to deepen it further. Right now, some students have the opportunity to seriously engage with vocation through our WIld Hope Fellows Program; the institute will make these conversations more accessible and available to more people within the university. 

Can you speak a little about the current work happening with Wild Hope? What are you most excited about at the moment? What are the long-range goals?

The Wild Hope Center for Vocation is a pan-university center that offers something for everyone, so it’s hard to pick one thing we are most excited about. We have a very successful staff seminar, faculty seminar on Lutheran Higher Education, and fellows program. Our Meant to Live events connect alumni and current students. This year, our student interns produced an amazing video series and podcast which are worth checking out!

Vocation is such a complex, rich, and important concept and we hope that the Wild Hope Institute will help us to reach every student who wants to engage with it. Real work around vocation requires time, trusting relationships and mentoring, critical questioning, reading and thinking, and earnest and prolonged reflection. At PLU, we aim to prepare students for certain kinds of lives —  lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership, and care —  and we hope the creation of this Institute will be yet another resource for us in this rewarding work.

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