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Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith, Revised 10th Anniversary Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-11386-8
352 pages
September 2011, Jossey-Bass
Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith, Revised 10th Anniversary Edition (1118113861) cover image


Building on the foundation she established with her ground-breaking book, The Critical Years, Parks invites us to take up responsibility for providing thoughtful mentorship and mentoring environments during the wilderness years of young adulthood. In this updated edition she addresses recent current events: violence in our culture, smart phones, mixed spirituality/religious identities, social media/networking, the economic crisis, changing racial identity, cultural shifts and other forces shaping the narrative of young adulthood today. She provides concrete ways of employing the theory in different types of mentoring communities, more on the relationship between meaning-making (faith/religion/spirituality) and disciplinary learning and includes new (and more timely) stories and illustrations.
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Table of Contents


1. Emerging Adulthood in a Changing World: Potential and Vulnerability.

2. The Deep Motion of Life: Composing Meaning, Purpose, and Faith.

3. Becoming at Home in the Universe: A Developmental Process.

4. It Matters How We Think.

5. It All Depends.

6. On Belonging.

7. Imagination: The Core of Learning and the Heart of Leadership.

8. The Gifts of Mentorship and a Mentoring Environment.

9. Higher Education as Mentor.

10. Culture as Mentor.

Coda: Mentoring Communities.

Professional Education and the Professions.

The Workplace.



Religious Faith Communities.


Social Movements.

Appendix: Faith Development from Adolescence to Mature Adulthood.


The Author.


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Author Information

Sharon Daloz Parks has been described as a keen observer, a probing listener, and a rich and subtle theorist. She is principal of Leadership for the New Commons, a senior fellow at the Whidbey Institute, and has held faculty and senior research positions at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Business School, the Kennedy School of Government, and the Weston School of Theology.

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"The things at stake in this tenth anniversary edition are even more profound and urgent than they were the first time around. This is not a little story about young people. It is a big story about humanity and the persistent quest for meaning and purpose. . . . the key is mentorship, and the payoff should be big—for all of us." —Richard A. Settersten Jr., coauthor, Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It's Good for Everyone

"Scholarly, wise, elegant, and deeply insightful, this book is . . . for all who work with people in the awe and angst-filled years between 18 and 32. . . . Upcoming generations have fateful choices to make that we need them to take up faithfully and fully awake. Parks, a master teacher, lights the way—theirs and ours." —Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita, Wellesley College; board chair, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

"No one who cares deeply about people in their twenties should be without this book. In Sharon Daloz Parks's lyrical company we learn so much more about their biggest possibilities—and our own." —Robert Kegan, author, In Over Our Heads; professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Parks's clear voice .... is simultaneously that of a scholar, clinician, ethicist, and priest—that of a rare and capable generalist who can nurture both teachers and students ... [and] reveal the architecture of the process by which we merge the questions of ultimate reality with the immediate needs and duties of our generation." —Janet Cooper Nelson, chaplain of the university, Brown University

" . . . [A] valuable resource for parents, professors, administrators, employers, and all others who care about emerging adults and want to see them thrive." —Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Clark University; author, Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties

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