Faith at Work: A WorkingNation Town Hall preview

WorkingNation's seventh town hall takes a look at how our various religious institutions provide support for people in the future of work.

Faith spelled out in wood blocks on table
Credit: Shutterstock

While the most recent unemployment numbers remain near record lows, the jobless crisis is far from over. And at the end of 2018, the Labor Department found that one in five of those out of work has been job seeking for more than six months. And the effective jobless rate doubles when adding in a large number of people who essentially have given up and left the workforce or who take on part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time jobs.

In addition, according to research from the Brookings Institute, automation and AI will affect tasks in virtually all occupational groups in the future. In real terms, approximately 25 percent of U.S. employment — 36 million jobs in 2016 — will face high exposure to automation in the coming decades. At the same time, some 36 percent of U.S. employment — 52 million jobs in 2016 — will experience medium exposure to automation by 2030, while another 39 percent — 57 million jobs — will experience low exposure.

Dignity of work has been one of the cornerstones of our communities and families. When people spend extended time out of work, it causes them to question and lose faith in themselves and our political and economic systems, which can devastate a person’s personal and family life.

What does each of our major religions teach us about the relationship between dignified work and a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s life? How do our various religions provide support for people as they try to navigate these uncertain times for the future of work?

MORE: There are many stories to be told about the future of work

What are our religious institutions doing on the ground in their houses of worship and community centers to help people find the courage, resilience, and willingness to retrain and re-skill?

This town hall will take a deeper look at these issues by engaging clergy, teachers and religious community leaders who make up the diverse religious fabrics of our country. There is no single solution to the automation of jobs issue, but we hope to highlight some of the successful religion-based programs which give people faith to meet new job skills training needs.


Date & Time: May 8, 2019 @ 4:30 p.m.
Location: Skirball Cultural Center Magnin Auditorium
Address: 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90049
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Skirball Cultural Center

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Headshot of Justin McDaniel
Justin McDaniel (Credit: University of Pennsylvania)

Justin McDaniel, Professor of Religious Studies Undergraduate Studies Chair, University of Pennsylvania.

McDaniel received his Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies in 2003. Presently, he teaches Buddhism and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania after previous appointments at Ohio University and the University of California at Riverside.

His research foci include Lao, Thai, Pali and Sanskrit linguistics and literature, Southeast Asian Buddhism, Thai and Lao art, ritual studies, manuscript studies, and Southeast Asian history. He is the chair of the Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Studies Association and the founder of the NEH funded Thai Digital Monastery Project. He has taught courses on Hinduism, Southeast Asia Literature, Buddhism, Myth and Symbolism, Southeast Asian History, and the Study of Religion after living and researching in South and Southeast Asia for many years as a Social Science Research Council and Fulbright Fellow, translator, volunteer teacher, and Buddhist monk.

Preliminary Panelists: (Subject to change/Additional panelists TBA)

  • Father Allan Figueroa Deck, S. J., Rector of the Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Jesuit Community and Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Theology and Latino Studies (Catholic)
  • Kathleen Buckley Domingo, Senior Director, Office of Life, Justice and Peace, Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Catholic)
  • Umar Hakim, Executive Director, Intellect Love Mercy Foundation, Compton, Calif.(Muslim)
  • Katherine Moore, Senior Vice President Communications, JVS SoCal, Southern California
  • Shi Zhiru, Professor of Religious Studies and Coordinator of Asian Studies at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. (Buddhist)
  • Najeeba Syeed, J.D.  Associate Professor of Interreligious Education, Claremont School of Theology (Muslim)
  • Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University and Professor of Religion and Society of Harvard Divinity School (Protestant)
  • David Wolpe, Max Webb Senior Rabbi Sinai Temple, Los Angeles. Named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post. (Jewish)

WorkingNation’s Previous Town Halls:

“The Future Is Now: Closing the Data Analytics Skills Gap,” co-hosted by the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative (WCAI), highlighted the power of data analytics in business, the skills gap hindering the booming needs of the workforce, and the innovative solutions for educating and training workers.

“Work-Based Learning: Building a Better Future for Job Seekers and Employers,” brought together some of the top minds at the forefront of innovative partnerships revolutionizing what and how people learn for jobs of the future. It was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

“Cracking the Code: A Town Hall on Bridging the Cybersecurity Skills Gap,” was an in-depth look at jobs in cybersecurity at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute Cornell on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

“Re-Skilling the Mid-Career Workforce,” held in conjunction with the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, was about the importance of training programs helping older individuals and the long-term unemployed to re-enter the workforce.

“Keeping America’s Promise,” produced in partnership with the syndicated television show Hiring America and filmed at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, was aimed at assisting veterans’ transition to the civilian workforce.

“Shaping the Future of Work,” was held at the Dreamline Aviation hangar at Van Nuys Airport with YPO Los Angeles and focused on the workforce shortage in the aviation and aerospace industries.

You can view all of our Town Hall discussions on the WorkingNation YouTube channel.

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