Why is character important, and how might a focus on virtues of character help to address the current crisis of the professions?

These questions animated a free, virtual conference on “Character and the Professions,” co-organized by the Program for Leadership and Character and the Oxford Character Project on March 18-20, 2021. Over 2,300 people from 37 countries and 6 continents registered for the three-day conference, which spanned the professions of business, law, engineering, and technology, medicine, public life, and religious leadership. The international conference included a Face to Face Speaker Forum preview event with former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright and General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret), who discussed character and public life with President Nathan O. Hatch. A plenary session explored the relationship between diversity, character, and the professions.

“I love that the conference reinforced the simple yet profound idea that character matters,” said Wake Forest sophomore Grace Powell. “Hearing influential leaders in their respective fields speak about how their dedication to cultivating good character has helped shape both their professional and personal successes was important for me to hear, especially in this current context where character is tested more often.”

Thirty-six offices, departments, and schools at Wake Forest, along with eighteen external organizations, joined as conference partners. The conference was funded with support from the John Templeton Foundation, Kern Family Foundation, and Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Information about our speakers and recordings of each session are available here.