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Where do young people come down on questions of faith, values, and public life? How do they relate their values to public policy issues including education, economic inequality, and the environment? These questions, critically important for the 2012 election, are at the center of a campus conversation being organized by the Berkley Center and Georgetown University. This blog features an ongoing conversation about these issues between students selected as Millennial Values Fellows through a national competition. You can read and comment on their blogs here.

To learn more about the project, visit the Campus Conversation on Values page.


Millennials on Social Media and Politics

November 15, 2012

Millennials on Social Issues and Diversity

November 12, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Why the Presidential Election Matters to Millennials

November 7, 2012

Millennials on Religion and Interfaith Work

November 7, 2012

Ryan Price (Drake) on E Pluribus Duo

November 6, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on Unpredictable Millennials

November 5, 2012

Millennials on Affirmative Action Policy

November 3, 2012

Seth Warner (Vassar) on What Happens as the "God Gap" Widens

November 2, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on How Social Media Is Like Wii Bowling

October 31, 2012

Zachary Yentzer (Arizona State) on the Next Greatest Generation

October 29, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on Post-Racial America? Race, Millennials, and the 2012 Election

October 25, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on a Future of Hashtags #whatitmeansforus

October 23, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on How the People Can Heal a “Divided,” Partisan Nation

October 4, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Religion and American Democracy

October 4, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on How It’s All About Relatability: Voter Turnout

October 3, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on Mistaking Politics for a Hollywood Blockbuster

October 2, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on the Internet Solution

October 1, 2012

>> more

Mariah Helgeson (George Washington University) on Faith and Values


March 17, 2012

“Always we are chasing words, and always words recede. But the greatest experiences are those for which we have no expression. To live only on that which we can say is to wallow in the dust, instead of digging up the soil. How shall we ignore the mystery, in which we are involved, to which we are attached by our very existence?”
-Abraham Joshua Heschel

I grew up in a family of big conversations. Set against the stark Minnesota landscape, my sisters and I took long wandering walks talking about meaning and existence. So when my sister announced at the dinner table that she was an atheist, the reaction from my mom, the interfaith minister, was “How wonderful! Let’s talk about it.”
It is for that reason that when I read, “faith is the only sure foundation for values in personal and public life,” that I, like many veterans of big conversations ask, why faith? Because though I know my sister as a fierce champion of social justice and compassion, by the standard definition of faith (belief in God), my sister falls short.

Too often in our conversations about faith in public life, receding words, like faith get in the way. Presidential elections illustrate a double-bind. When candidates discuss their faith, they risk excluding people of different faiths, who fear that professed belief in a particular God will translate to a theocracy unfriendly to religious diversity (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”) or candidates feel that their right to share their faith identity in public is being restricted (“...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”). What is clear is that the attempts at honest big conversations about faith, ethics, and ideas, almost inevitably devolve into a thousand small conversations. The shared commitment to the principles of liberty, equality, and compassion is lost in the chaos.

For me faith is not just about belief in God, it’s about meaning, ethics, ideas and the big conversations in which we form and share our beliefs. In my experience, these conversations are the glue that holds our nation together. Conversations about faith allow us to bring our full selves to the table. It is there that we uncover the foundations of our values by understanding our own and others’ perspectives, and consequently, creating better policies, no longer “wallowing in the dust,” as Heschel wrote, but collectively “digging up the soil.”