life purpose and community engagement

Whereas “how are you” addresses well-being, and “who are you” addresses identity, “why are you” addresses your purpose in life.

Life purpose is an intention to pursue activities and opportunities that are significant to us personally and that contribute positively to our communities.

The options youth have to select a life purpose can be influenced by educational structure, culture, and location. But these relationships are not well understood.

The Learning 4 Purpose Lab, headquartered at Clark University, is a collaboration of nine universities in six countries: Brazil, China, Finland, South Korea, Spain, and the United States.

research aims

Our aims are to launch further international collaborative interest and research around developing youth purpose, especially through higher education practice.

We are developing multinational research tools and findings to address 4 dynamic, developmental issues:

  • how youth understand, select, and enact purpose
  • the roles of culture in purpose development
  • youths’ emotions about “high impact” educational experiences
  • how youths’ purposes emerge from and contribute to service experiences

We currently use online surveys to assess college students’ expectations and experiences during service-learning courses. Do such “high impact” educational opportunities provide good venues for fostering or strengthening purpose? If so, how?

From Seana Moran & Jenni Menon Mariano
“How Service-Learning Influences Youth Purpose Around the World”
Grant Proposal and Project Description