2019-20 Civic Engagement Theme

Living Our Best Lives

According to the 2018 State of American Well-Being study, Ohio ranks 38th among the states on this well-being index. The five elements measured in the study are as follows:

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals;
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life;
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security; 
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community;
  • Physical: having good health and energy to get things done daily.

As these categories suggest, our sense of well-being grows from a complex web of interrelated factors. For the 2019-20 academic year, the Bluffton campus community will explore how we live with wholeness and joy.

Some questions that will shape our campus conversation: how do we understand Ohio’s low ranking on this index? What external conditions may contribute to or detract from a sense of well-being? How does a community’s health enrich and intersect with an an individual’s wholeness and joy? How can the various academic disciplines help individuals and communities find wholeness or well-being? How have the various places that we have called “home” differently supported our own well-being? How can any of us use the strengths we and our communities possess to find a greater sense of well-being and joy?

Beth Taylor Mack


Summer reading 

The summer reading text for first year students was The Geography of Bliss (One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World) by Eric Weiner. The author describes his travels around the world to learn why people in various countries are highly ranked on the happiness scale. 
>>> author's description

Opening Convocation
During a time when, as a whole, our nation’s perceived well-being is declining, Dr. Beth Taylor Mack, director of health behavior and wellness for YMCA of the USA, emphasized the importance of relationships to first-year students during Bluffton University’s Opening Convocation. Her presentation, “The Power of Relationships: How Connectivity Impacts Well-Being,” directly related to this year’s summer reading for first-year students, “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner. >> Read more

Deserving Happiness: A Wisdom Conversation

Dr. Jackie Wyse-RhodesDr. Jackie Wyse-Rhodes will be the 2019-20 civic engagement lecturer. She will present at the Presidential Scholarship Competition and on Civic Engagement Day.

In planning her presentation, she wrote, “The question of how to live a good and meaningful life in the face of human mortality, political instability, and theological doubt is an old question, and a global one. For a community like Bluffton University, who is invested in ecumenical conversations while rooted in an Anabaptist perspective, the sages of early Judaism make particularly good interlocutors. Early Jewish wisdom literature speaks to questions of purpose––how our daily decisions can be motivated by seeking divine presence and even divine will; to questions of community––how the web of relationships we build can offer us the strength, humor, and accountability we need to persevere; to questions of finances––how our relationship with money can serve as a diagnostic tool to better understand our persistent anxieties; and to questions of what it means to live as embodied creatures––how we might look to our own bodies and natural world and find wisdom there. . . . In the end, I will argue that biblical wisdom traditions offer a particularly apt model for Bluffton University as we seek to create space for inclusive and incisive dialogue about meaningful living.”