Bryn Athyn, Pa. — On Jan 28, 2020, Bryn Athyn College had the privilege of welcoming author Dr. Tim Clydesdale to campus for a day of connection and vibrant discussion about building stronger vocation exploration programming on campus.

Dr. Clydesdale, who currently serves as Vice Provost, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Professor of Sociology at The College of New Jersey, is an expert on young adulthood, higher education, and American religion. With a PhD from Princeton University, and author of multiple books* on the religious perspectives of today’s young adults, Clydesdale is a popular speaker at colleges, universities, and scholarly gatherings around the globe.

Dr. Clydesdale engaged staff and faculty in small group discussions about vocation exploration programming and the religious and spiritual perspectives of young adults. He then spoke in the Pendleton Hall auditorium, offering an optimistic and insightful perspective on the religious and spiritual perspectives of today’s young adults.

In his presentation titled, The Twentysomething Soul: Understanding Religions, Secular, and Purposeful Young Adults, Dr. Clydesdale shared his experience as a specialist in vocation programming for young adults. Additionally, having interviewed hundreds of college-age students , Clydesdale reports that contrary to some popular perceptions, while the percentage of young adults who are “religiously unaffiliated” has grown, this does not mean that they don’t care about spiritual growth or that they don’t have religious beliefs. Moreover, as young adults go “church-shopping” in America, they do so in an overwhelmingly Christian context, but with a sense of “do-it-yourself” freedom.

​After the illustrated lecture and question and answer session, attendees mingled in the Pendleton Hall commons for refreshments and an opportunity for further informal discussion with Dr. Clydesdale.

Dr. Clydesdale’s visit to Bryn Athyn College is the latest event in the College’s Vocation Professional Development Series.  Support for this series comes from Bryn Athyn’s NetVUE Professional Development grant, which is supported by the Council of Independent Colleges and Lilly Endowment Inc. Aided by this grant, Bryn Athyn College is working to shape visible and coordinated programming rooted in the College’s religious mission to engage students in reflection on how they might be called to use their talents to live a purposeful life with a sense of service to others.


*Dr. Tim Clydesdale is the author of The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School (University of Chicago Press, 2007), The Purposeful Graduate: Why Colleges Must Talk to Students about Vocation (University of Chicago Press, 2015), and with co-author Kathleen Garces-Foley of Marymount University, The Twentysomething Soul: Understanding the Religious and Secular Lives of American Young Adults(Oxford University Press, 2019).