Greg's Writings

Belmont’s Commitment to Whole-Person Formation

Sep 29, 2022 | Pathway #1 - Whole Person Formation | 0 comments

Rev. Jones and Dr. Amy Crook on the First Day of Classes at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, August 25, 2021.

Where character, progress and innovation meet to serve our communities

Attending college is an incredibly formative time for students–and that formation happens inside and outside the classroom. Institutions hold the significant task of helping students discover who they are and how to contribute to the world around them. In fact, 79% of graduates surveyed by Pew Research in 2021 said their college education was “extremely or very useful when it came to helping them grow personally and intellectually.”

This has always been one of Belmont’s strengths, and we are furthering our commitment to whole-person formation to support all students in their understanding of how they’re growing in both academic skills and their understanding of what stirs their hearts to action. This will allow students to identify where they’re most fulfilled and the value of their distinct strengths they bring to a community.

Through Belmont’s purpose areas, we hope to foster curiosity and exploration in a variety of ways that brings students’ strengths together to make the world a better place. These purpose areas include:

  1. Thoughtful Investigators
  2. Creative Visionaries
  3. Compassionate Guides
  4. Sincere Storytellers
  5. Organizational Innovators

These purpose areas are infused across the University including What’s Your Why, an interdisciplinary course hosted by Dr. Greg Jones and Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones. Students have shared the lasting impact the class has made on their lives inspiring action, developing purpose and expanding their world views.

Whole-person formation is the foundation on which all else is built. If we are making decisions without a core understanding of our worthy purpose and character values, we can become untethered from the good of the world. A thoughtful understanding of our true North allows our progress and innovation can truly meet our community’s needs.

We’re committed to nurturing students’ integrity to do what is right, not only what is easy; their generosity of spirit to share and collaborate well; and their humility to recognize they are never done learning. But the work doesn’t stop there.

Whole-person formation is forward looking and propelling us towards our 2030 aspirational aims. Society today pushes people to prove and credential themselves. Students can focus on what they are achieving and lose sight of who they are becoming, and we want to support them becoming the best version of themselves.  Here at Belmont, we believe a person’s purpose is far deeper than a job or trade. We’re doing this for our faculty and staff, too, and helping them discover ways they can infuse their unique passions with their work at Belmont. We want people—students, alumni, faculty and staff—to understand their inherent value as a human being, worthy of love and opportunities to flourish.

Purpose work cannot end at graduation. We pour into our students not only to help them grow and flourish while they’re here, but because this is a generative process. Members of the Belmont community are equipped to be space makers who create safety for others’ vulnerability and deep introspection, recognizing where they want and need to continue to grow. They are leaders who inspire the communities they inhabit with strong character and are curious about other’s life experiences and viewpoints.

Our efforts aren’t siloed. In fact, our approach is quite the opposite.

As we build on whole-person formation throughout our community, this work intersects with other key areas of focus. For instance, bridging gaps and embracing inclusive excellence requires high character. This means being able to articulate your own worldview while being open to listening and learning about someone else’s and how they’ve come to believe things different from you.

Character is caught and taught. We can catch ideals because we see amazing exemplars modeling character in action. It’s also taught through practice and skill building, allowing students to learn how to listen well and authentically tell their stories.

Our goal is to develop a community who does this well, whose members are sent out to change the practice for others, spilling into each season of a person’s life. We are always aspiring and refining our efforts. Each of us is continually growing in our character and sense of purpose. This is just the beginning.

–By Amy Crook, Pathway 1 Catalyst & Vice President for Transformative Innovation, Character, & Purpose