Asbury University welcomed special guest Katherine Leary Alsdorf and AU alum DT Slouffman ’97 to campus for a series of events on reframing a Christian approach to work in the face of the 21st century marketplace. Alsdorf is Senior Advisor of Global Faith and Work Initiative at Redeemer City to City in New York. Slouffman is an eight-time Emmy award winning producer.
The series of events with Alsdorf and Slouffman began on Monday morning with campus Chapel. Slouffman offered Alsdorf prompts and she shared with the student body about maintaining a Christian approach to work with an encouragement to the students that quiet-quitting could be more about the heart of the worker than it is about the job. She encouraged the students to give their best to their work and to start building the discipline that is required for the workplace by investing their effort in their schoolwork.
Following chapel, Alsdorf attended an Introduction to Philosophy course with Dr. Claire Peterson. Dr. Peterson and her students asked thoughtful questions about work-life balance and knowing when to change jobs. Alsdorf encouraged a particular emphasis on the importance of trusted, Christian community to help the students make decisions. She encouraged them to make and keep trusted friendships at AU, to help them make wise decisions in taking or leaving a job. Close friends, she said, can help us to discern our laziness and bad attitudes from a job that is actually a bad fit. One student asked Alsdorf a follow-up question about her Chapel remarks, wondering how to balance a good attitude with quiet-quitting if health support is needed. Alsdorf clarified that she did think it was important for one to take a job that had room for support as needed and that regardless of the expectations of the job, one can put forward their best effort and give it the attention needed.
That afternoon, Alsdorf and Slouffman held a question-and-answer session in the new SEARCH Studio for 45 students and several professors. An interdisciplinary honors class, co-taught by Dr. Steve Clements and Dr. Daniel Strait, attended the session. The class is titled, “The City,” and Alsdorf asked the group, “What does one learn in a class called The City?” She heard that the class is indeed talking about New York City, so Alsdorf and Slouffman spent some time talking about their experiences living in NYC. Alsdorf shared her heart for city life, to be where the people are, in contrast to quiet life in suburbia where it is easy to avoid rubbing shoulders with others.
Alsdorf and Slouffman ended their day with 14 AU faculty over dinner. Their casual conversation covered the current work culture and advice for talking with students about work.
The next day, Alsdorf and Slouffman returned to the SEARCH Studio to answer questions from a group of ten Student Life staff. The group had a good conversation about re-shaping how AU students think about vocation and calling, and the troubles that rise from pressing a job-oriented mentality on their academic and Christian success.
After eating lunch with the Good Work Initiatives Committee, Alsdorf and Slouffman’s final event was with a small group of guidance counselors from local Christian high schools. The group discussed the marketplace that high schoolers are entering and the counselors shared some of the questions that their students are asking. They watched a film of Alsdorf where she discusses Christian work.
Slouffman filmed Alsdorf and other AU alums for a collection of 19 videos that continue the SEARCH Good Work Initiatives Committee discussions and are used as content for a course developed by Dr. Claire Peterson, which brings the conversation about Christian work into the classroom. The committee began as the Future of Work Committee in response to a Koch grant received by President Kevin J. Brown. It now continues under the title of Good Work Initiatives while a NetVUE grant sustains the conversations on AU’s campus.
The Good Work Initiatives help all Asbury University students – no matter their major – prepare for an unknown career, clarify calling and identity in Jesus Christ, and finish the interview prompt, “Tell me about a time when you created or improved something and shared it with someone.” The program asks the questions, “How should we work?” and “Why should we work?”