In 2008, I founded the Princeton Faith & Work Initiative (FWI), housed in the Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion. FWI grew out of a simple premise: We all desire to be whole. And yet we work and live, we move and have our being, in a world where that desire is often thwarted. Historically, key parts of our identity—whether they be our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, or our faith—have not always been welcome in society or places of work. This has been to our individual and collective detriment. Sustainable and responsible growth emerges from wholeness. My hope was that we could study and address the kind of real-world workplace ethical dilemmas and related questions of meaning and purpose by drawing on the wisdom and resources found in faith traditions in conjunction with other disciplines.
Our original mission was to generate intellectual frameworks and practical resources to address the issues and opportunities surrounding faith and work, focusing particularly on three constituencies: students, marketplace leaders, and global scholars. We explored how the resources of religious traditions and spiritual identities shape and inform engagement with a wide range of workplace topics and issues. FWI grew out of an interest in the historical movements that attempted to welcome the whole self to places of work and all of life. This interest was equal parts academic as well as suggestive. Academically, it took the shape of research, teaching, and writing on the history of the faith and work movement and its current manifestations and issues. More than merely an academic topic of study, however, we also suggested that we can learn from these movements—both from their successes and failures. Responsible and sustainable progress emerges from wholeness. And the wise integration of one’s faith or meaning-making system into their place of work can lead to pro-social outcomes and sustainable societal impact.
As FWI enters its 14th year at Princeton, we continue our original mission while also expanding the aperture of our focus. In 2020, we became part of the Keller Center for Innovation, which is located in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In this dynamic new arena, we find ourselves increasingly exploring ethical issues and the societal impact of new technologies. FWI continues to evolve and lead in this space. We highlight ethics as a central concern of our research, teaching, and programming. FWI explores the intersection of work, ethics, and faith… with the whole human in mind.
We increasingly find that faith and work discussions often originate with ethical questions, be they about technology or engineering challenges, market practices, policies, products, and even corporate responses to non-business related social issues. Work-related moral dilemmas are a new doorway to integrating work, ethics, and faith. And these dilemmas often involve the nature and being of work, the worker, and the workplace. People want their faith to have practical dimensions, helping them address real-world problems, ethical considerations, pressures, and possibilities, whether on a personal or organizational level and regardless of their company size or industry sector.
FWI continues to play an important role in thought leadership in an expanding number of traditional as well as newer, complex ethical questions and challenges found in technology and the sciences, and in other aspects of the evolving global marketplace. We embody the emphasis on integrating the insights and disciplines of faith traditions and ethics combined with philosophy, economics, finance, psychology, and sociology into the expanding and futuristic fields of engineering, tech, design thinking, and AI.
Our work helps highlight how humankind’s faith and work play an important role in developing technologies and serves as a compass for the implicit biases as well as inherent backgrounds that scholars, students, and marketplace leaders bring to their workplace.
Our work moves from the laboratory of ideas to the classroom to the boardroom and back. We invite you to join us in this exciting journey!
David W. Miller, Director Faith & Work Initiative
“[FWI] actively supported VMware on its journey of not only building a great, sustainable leadership business in software and cloud but doing so with values and business practices that are sustainable and scalable.”
-Pat Gelsinger, CEO Intel (former CEO, VMware)