Event Recap: Search for Meaning Book Festival 2014

Written by Hannah Crivello
February 26, 2014

The sixth annual, Search for Meaning Book Festival took place on Saturday, February 15th with over 2,000 individuals coming to the university campus from various corners of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Earlier this year, Seattle University?s President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J. announced that the festival had officially become a Seattle University signature event. Originally created by the university?s School of Theology and Ministry in 2009, the Search for Meaning Book Festival has quickly become one of the most highly regarded events of its kind, with the festival attracting an ever-growing and enthusiastic following. This year was no different.
Pulitzer-prize winning journalists and authors Katherine Boo and Isabel Wilkerson were the day?s keynote speakers, with well over 45 authors present for general sessions throughout the day.
Boo and Wilkerson were both raised and formed in churches and have built journalistic careers telling the stories of those who live on the margins of society.? Boo has done so after two years of research in the way hope is manifested in one of the worst slums on the planet, a community in Mumbai, India.? Wilkerson spent ten years tracking the largest internal migration in U.S., the movement of more than 6 million African-Americans from southern states to Northern and Western cities, changing the United States in the process. Both women received standing ovations. ?

General SessionsGeneral sessions were at times overflowing as attendees engaged other diverse themes of the day. Topics ranged from ?mindful? writing to learning the spiritual lessons from the life and music of Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the popular music group, Nirvana; from the dynamics of politics, religion and rights in a modern Islamic republic to a Spanish-language session on Christian ministry to the poor; from adapting Buddhist mediation practices to Christian spirituality to the spiritual insights coming from a lifelong devotion to Christian-Hindu dialogue; and many other topics.

Session formats varied throughout the day, with a multi-cast play taking place within the first session block to two workshops occurring throughout the day. An interactive experience of the day was a walk or pilgrimage across the campus? many sacred spaces, with accompanying prayers and reflections available for participants.

Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry hosted a Friday night dinner before the festival, hosted by Mark Massa, S.J., and other VIP events throughout the day included a special lunch with Katherine Boo, a dinner with Isabel Wilkerson and an alumni breakfast with Seattle University?s African-American Alumni Chapter.

Save the date for the 2015 Festival taking place on Saturday, February 28, 2015.



About the Festival
The Search for Meaning Book Festival has evolved into a signature Seattle University event. Launched in 2009, the festival features a veritable who's who of the literary and scholarly worlds, with over 40 best-selling authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and more. The annual one-day festival offers general sessions, keynote presentations, book signings, and interactive experiences. Individuals from all walks of life spend a day with some of the world's most influential authors and scholars while reflecting on their own ability to contribute to a more just and humane world. Learn more at

Seattle University: The University Behind the Festival
Seattle University is situated in Seattle's urban hub, while on the edge of the most diversely populated zip code in the nation. The Search for Meaning Book Festival uniquely embodies Seattle University's core values of lived spirituality, justice, and diversity. With over 7,400 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within eight schools and colleges, the university ranks #6 among 121 regional universities in the West. Seattle University is dedicated to educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world. Learn more at