On Meaningful Voice
As I engage with the university community, some of the most hopeful comments have come from undergraduate students—many of whom are not yet 20 years old. Here’s what I’ve learned from them:
Don’t let the earbuds fool you. Students are not checking out. They are checking in—selectively—with the influences and content that fuel their imagination. The students who engage freely with me are environmentally and socially conscious and also politically astute. They are quick to lend a hand or to lead an initiative. Today’s college students care about the future and know they must be its architects.
They seek meaning. In the past four years, the numbers of our students choosing a minor course of study in addition to the primary academic major has nearly doubled. While some argue that students are doing this to improve their marketability, I think it also reflects their ingenuity and awareness that the problems of the future will require investigation and collaboration across disciplines.
The future is in compassionate hands. Meaningful voice elevates discourse and calls the world to conversations that raise both solutions and hope. I have come across that kind of voice in the words of our students, as I did when then freshman Elizabeth Schmidt closed an award-winning essay with this charge: “If we all live with awareness of our impacts and drive our actions with feeling, maybe we can stop trying to right injustice with justice and start preventing it with compassion.”
I believe this generation of college students is turning a mirror on the world and calling it to action. They continue to demonstrate the commitment and capacity to engage with a meaningful voice, to collaborate across traditional boundaries and to bring about transformational, difference-making change.
Beverly J. Warren
“Critical conversations managed well can build relationships, cultivate creativity and usher breakthroughs.”
Smart Business, November 1, 2016
“Higher education’s most important outcome is college graduates who have the skills, talent and desire to change the world—who understand that a life of meaning is just as important as a life of financial comfort.”
State of the University, October 13, 2016