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Minds in the Making: What does it mean?

To identify the deeper meaning in Minds in the Making one must return to its elements—to its origins. Minds in the Making emerged out of a collaboration between Calvin and Crane MetaMarketing, the firm hired by Calvin to help Calvin represent itself. After conducting more than a hundred interviews, spending many hours on Calvin's campus, and delving deep into the literature and research that tells the story of Calvin College, Crane reflected to Calvin its own image—those characteristics that have identified Calvin College for the last 125 years and will bring it into the next. In this reflection, Crane highlighted those qualities that set Calvin apart from its peers and led to Calvin's new campaign Minds in the Making—a three-part message leading to a deliberate whole.

The Promise: Crane began by unearthing Calvin's "promise," that is, the simple statement of what a Calvin education reliably delivers. It is this:

Calvin is the distinctively Christian,
academically excellent liberal arts college
that shapes minds for intentional participation
in the renewal of all things.

However, this promise, while succinct, is not conducive to quick communication.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The Tagline: A tagline, in contrast, delivers the promise in short form without compromising its depth, honesty, or accuracy—a tall order for a few words. Crane chose each word of the tagline carefully, reflecting Calvin in a simple, alliterative, memorable form—Minds in the Making.

First of all: Minds. Mind, in fact, is a remarkably flexible word. Although it certainly denotes the intellect or reason, it also connotes a person's entire consciousness: thought, intention, desire, wishes, memory, philosophy. Through the nuances of this key word, Minds in the Making marks Calvin as a place where minds (i.e. thoughts, intentions, abilities, beliefs, feelings) undergo intellectual and spiritual formation; and also where people are consciously applying their minds (i.e. their whole selves) to the lifelong task of working through the Holy Spirit to accomplish world renewal. The shaping of such minds is the business that Calvin is about.

Secondly: in the Making. This phrase captures Calvin's stimulating academic environment and the exciting prospect of working as an agent of renewal in today's world. Inherent in this phrase is "the perpetual present participle" (Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, quoted by President Gaylen Byker in his inaugural address) of Reformed thinking and learning. We are never at rest. We are always reforming. We are, at our best, in the making.

Click image to enlarge viewThe All Things Concept: The promise and the tagline are part of the message completed by the neatly titled "All Things" concept—a new iteration of the Reformed theology so central to Calvin. Not only are we about the making of minds, we are Reformed in our approach to this task. Crane urged Calvin to boldly identify its Reformed theology, to explain it eagerly, and to display it proudly. This would be Calvin's acceptance of and enthusiasm for its true uniqueness. How, then, to communicate this Reformed uniqueness in an easily accessible way—in a way that resonates with the promise and the tagline and brings the true nature of Calvin to an ever-broadening constituency? :

God has created all things, and they were good.
All things have fallen from their original goodness.
Christ, who has redeemed all things, eventually will restore them.
We aid the Spirit's work of restoration by seeking to make all things better.

Calvin's minds in the making are minds that, within a robust faith and a deep commitment to world renewal, remain open to the spectrum of ideas and people and experiences. Minds that engage all things and a calling that demands perpetual engagement. Reflecting, researching, responding, renewing, reforming. In the making indeed.