“We need to consider the paradox of these digital devices: On one hand, they can contribute to heightened productivity and a greater connection to the global community; yet on the other, we experience an increasing sense of loneliness and isolation that leads to many mental and physical health risks that threaten our shared community and cultural forums. What happens when our experiences with others are mediated by technology? In the formative young adult years, we must consider what is being lost in human experience because of our seeming dependence on these new, even luminous, technologies.

“Another trend that affects our present generation is the economic realities of working in a more brittle economy than in the past. It has become more complex to work out issues of vocation and purpose when there is less confidence that the economy will hold, making choices for the future of our young adults seem more stark. This manifests in asking the pivotal question: Is there a place for me in this new economic order? One of the tests of a culture is its capacity to receive its idealistic youth, and our culture is failing this test wherever “success” is equated with monetary reward alone.

“A byproduct of this trend is the commodification of young adults who now have to learn to market themselves in order to be successful in our complex world. Young adults are encouraged to focus more on resume building and networking rather than being supported in exploring the many possibilities of who they can become. This economic trend constrains the imagination of young adults at the time when they otherwise are most able to discern and claim a worthy dream.”

Interview with Sharon Daloz Parks in “Spirituality in Higher Education,” Nov. 2007. See also Leadership for the New Commons