Conference Summary

What if “How much money do I make?” became “How much value do I make?”

The Wheelock Conference seeks to bring together Dartmouth students, alumni, faculty, and community members to ask the big questions at the intersection of faith, reason, and vocation. Rather than compartmentalizing our lives and trying to distance our faith from our academic pursuits, social engagements, or careers, we work to integrate all of these spheres, celebrating the richness of a life that considers an individual’s beliefs, thoughts, and work each as a crucial facet of the whole person.

As the organizers of the Wheelock Conference, we believe that Christianity provides the most compelling foundation for this integration of faith, reason, and vocation at Dartmouth and beyond. We believe that this dialogue and consideration of all aspects of one’s perspective and identity lays the foundation for inclusive inquiry that develops open-minded individuals grounded in a strong faith-based worldview, and that equips them with the right tools to flourish in their vocations. We recognize that living out this purpose within the larger secular society is not easy, but for the past seven years, we have drawn on the strong tradition of Christian intellectualism to help students explore the role of faith and reason in their vocation, so that when they embark on their careers they have confidence in their convictions and decisions.

Today, as young students think about choosing a vocation they inevitably encounter a profound tension. On the one hand, students are concerned with finding a career that will enable them to pay off student loans quickly and establish a future of financial security. On the other, many students will look first to the question of whether a career would allow them to do meaningful work. While young people repeatedly express a desire to do something meaningful, very few have a concrete idea of what that looks like or how to find it. Their primary resources consist of articles that are dominated by expositions on the most lucrative jobs, the fastest-growing fields, or the careers with the highest starting salaries. But what if instead focusing on the question, How much money do I make, we instead asked ourselves, How much value do I make?  When looked at from this perspective, what aspects of our internal conversations and deliberations about vocation would change?

It has been said that “you make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” If we seek to develop students as human beings with many facets beyond their role in the workplace, then we must provide them the tools to think about careers beyond their financial returns. Indeed, the Bible regularly calls us to work not in order to gain wealth, for as Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income,” but instead to serve others sacrificially and to seek first and foremost to do God’s will for his creation. The most important question, of course, is not what we think is value, and what self-focused benefits we pursue, but (as always), what does God want from us?

In this conference, we will gather alumni and scholars across the workplace and the academy to discuss this question, starting from our basic foundation of integrating faith, reason, and vocation. Alumni come to share stories of their time at Dartmouth and how it has shaped their careers after, and to foster long-term mentorship relationships, many of which create internship opportunities. In panel discussions, we will show how integrating faith and reason provides a compelling framework for thinking about how we can create value.

The eighth annual Wheelock Conference will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Previous Conferences

2016 • Success and Failure
Today’s culture encourages—almost demands—a drive for high success. A fear of failure to achieve high goals detracts from happiness, even our self-worth. Success is worth; failure is worthlessness. Our very language reflects this. “Being a failure,” is one of the worst fears burdening many students at school and after. Yet, we don’t stop often enough to think about what successes we really desire, and what failures we really fear.

Successes and failures are not objective externalities; they only come alive as individual experiences and aspirations in real situations. Success is only meaningful in terms of individual goals. Failure then becomes a matter of not achieving those goals. Often we see successes and failures through the simple formula: success = results – expectations, which sets us up to focus on our own desires and our own perceptions. Left out is the eternal perspective: what does God want? For the Christian, God’s work is the ultimate goal. If it is true that we get what we really want in life and become what we really intend, then the first and most important question is: do we really want what God wants?

2015 • Who am I?  Faith, Identity, and Vocation
When we introduce ourselves to people, we often reference our Dartmouth graduation year, our academic concentration, or our job. Our identity in one of these groups influences many of our choices and the way we interact with others, but our identity is more than what we do. As organizers of the Wheelock conference, we believe that Christianity provides a compelling foundation for understanding our identity, and that this understanding is found by integrating our faith, reason, and vocation at Dartmouth and afterward. One of the tools we use to understand these concepts is to look to people who have drawn upon their faith to make difficult decisions in the past. How did Christian identity influence the abolition of the British slave trade in the 1800?s? Or motivate the stand against Hitler and the Nazi party within the German church? Our keynote speaker, Eric Metaxas, kicked off the conference by looking at Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce as two men who were driven by their identity in Christ to make the choices we now call heroic.

In this conference, we are compelled by a basic foundation of integrating faith, reason, and vocation to gather alumni and scholars across the workplace and academy, whose posture of a faith-centric life informs the choices they make both personally and professionally. Through interaction with alumni, faculty, and guests, students will have the opportunity to explore questions of identity as an integral part of faith, reason, and vocation. Alumni come with a desire to connect and foster long-term mentorship relationships, and many offer internship opportunities. In panel discussions, interviews, and roundtable discussions we will show how integrating faith and reason provide a compelling foundation for thinking well and living well.

2014 • Choices: Faith, Reason, and Vocation
As organizers, we believe that Christianity provides a compelling foundation for integrating faith, reason, and vocation at Dartmouth and afterward. We believe that faith-based reasoning and dialogue is essential to forming open-minded individuals. This year we will look together at an essential part of being human: making choices.

All of the Bible, indeed all of human history and human experience, is about choice. From Genesis to Revelation, the drama is not of what happens, but what is chosen. All of human experience – all joy, all challenges, all achievement, all suffering – forms but a backdrop, a stage upon which the drama of choice is played out. Often choices come unexpectedly, and we are unprepared. Thus emerges a question: how can we prepare ourselves to make good choices? How do we even know what choices are good choices?

In this conference, we are compelled by this question to gather alumni and scholars across the workplace and academy, whose posture of a faith-centric life informs the choices they make both personally and professionally. We will look at how key experiences, mentorship, and Biblical-rootedness have taught us to make decisions along our personal journeys. Through interaction with alumni and faculty, students will have the opportunity to explore the question of decision making as an integral part of faith, reason, and vocation. Alumni come with a desire to connect and foster long-term mentorship relationships, and many offer internship opportunities. In panel discussions, we will show how integrating faith and reason provides a compelling foundation for good choices.

The fifth annual Wheelock Conference will be held on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College from 10 am until 5 pm. On Saturday evening, after the conclusion of the conference, alumni and ministries will host independently organized reunions.

The Wheelock Conference was first hosted in 2010 by the students of Apologia, Dartmouth’s journal of Christian thought, the Association of Christian Tuck Students, and the students, alumni, and faculty of the Eleazar Wheelock Society.

2013 • Vocation, Faith, and Social Value
For the past three years, The Wheelock Conference has convened Dartmouth alumni and leading scholars to demonstrate that faith, reason, and vocation can thrive together. In a culture that often relegates faith to the margins of life, the conference has been a voice for thoughtful integration.

As organizers, we believe that Christianity provides a compelling foundation for integrating faith, reason, and vocation at Dartmouth and afterwards. We believe that faith-based reasoning and dialogue is essential to forming open-minded individuals. This year we will look especially at vocation, and explore some of the unique ways that faith-centered vocation creates social value.

We are guided by a rich pedigree of Christians whose faith has inspired social action; people whose love for God powerfully motivated love for neighbor. Notable examples include William Wilberforce, Bartholomew De Las Casas, Mother Teresa, and Dietrich Bonheoffer. Reflecting on this pedigree, C.S. Lewis observed: “If you look at history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

The fourth annual Wheelock Conference will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College from 10 am until 5 pm. On Saturday evening, after the conclusion of the conference, alumni and ministries will host independently organized reunions.

The Wheelock Conference was first hosted in 2010 by the students of Apologia, Dartmouth’s journal of Christian thought, the Association of Christian Tuck Students, and the students, alumni, and faculty of the Eleazar Wheelock Society.