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The process of creating and sharing meaning through an ongoing interplay between perception and expression is what we call ‘communication’ writ large. We construct meaning of the impressions we have of the world through our minds. We also make meaning from and through the inner voice (i.e., our perception of the Life Force) that speaks through our hearts. Examples of how these have been applied are given.

In: Spirituality: Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy

For the past several years, research from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has been reporting that a majority of U.S. University and College undergraduates hope to be able to explore meaning and purpose as parts of their post-secondary experiences. Few, however, have been able to find any structured guidance to do so. This chapter describes an approach to working with students in search of spiritual exploration and the opportunities to do so via a course called ‘Spirituality in the Human Experience.’ The course is grounded both in the theoretical and applied pedagogy articulated by Paulo Freire and in the emergent spiritual praxis and pedagogy being conducted in various fields throughout the world. Students are immersed in the difficult task of learning to listen, first within and then without. It is applied in constructing what Parker Palmer has called a ‘Circle of Trust’ within the classroom to promote mutual growth and support. And, it is coupled with individualised service learning projects, so that students’ inward explorations are joined with outward applications. Statements from student self-reports demonstrate the evolution of their experience throughout the semester, revealing that learning in this manner is neither easy for many of them, nor quickly mastered. Their learning comes slowly at first, fostering resistance to this different pedagogical approach. Over time, however, as they apply what they are learning to themselves and to their social interactions, they become more confident that they can learn from looking and listening within. Coming at a time when there has been increasing scholarly and applied focus on spirituality across a variety of fields - ecology, education, medicine, nursing, social work, hospice care, management, police work, prisoner rehabilitation, psychology, communication, sociology, sports, among others - this pedagogical approach provides students a foundation for lifelong investigation, learning and application.

In: Spirituality: New Reflections on Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy

The process of creating and sharing meaning through an ongoing interplay between perception and expression is what we call ‘communication’ writ large. We construct meaning of the impressions we have of the world through our minds. We also make meaning from and through the inner voice (i.e., our perception of the Life Force) that speaks through our hearts. Examples of how these have been applied are given.

In: Spirituality: Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy

For the past several years, research from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has been reporting that a majority of U.S. University and College undergraduates hope to be able to explore meaning and purpose as parts of their post-secondary experiences. Few, however, have been able to find any structured guidance to do so. This chapter describes an approach to working with students in search of spiritual exploration and the opportunities to do so via a course called ‘Spirituality in the Human Experience.’ The course is grounded both in the theoretical and applied pedagogy articulated by Paulo Freire and in the emergent spiritual praxis and pedagogy being conducted in various fields throughout the world. Students are immersed in the difficult task of learning to listen, first within and then without. It is applied in constructing what Parker Palmer has called a ‘Circle of Trust’ within the classroom to promote mutual growth and support. And, it is coupled with individualised service learning projects, so that students’ inward explorations are joined with outward applications. Statements from student self-reports demonstrate the evolution of their experience throughout the semester, revealing that learning in this manner is neither easy for many of them, nor quickly mastered. Their learning comes slowly at first, fostering resistance to this different pedagogical approach. Over time, however, as they apply what they are learning to themselves and to their social interactions, they become more confident that they can learn from looking and listening within. Coming at a time when there has been increasing scholarly and applied focus on spirituality across a variety of fields - ecology, education, medicine, nursing, social work, hospice care, management, police work, prisoner rehabilitation, psychology, communication, sociology, sports, among others - this pedagogical approach provides students a foundation for lifelong investigation, learning and application.

In: Spirituality: New Reflections on Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy

Contemporary work on spirituality in the field of communication and media studies consists of three principal areas: theoretical development, field praxis and pedagogy. Yet, we can also imagine non-human consciousness. Fundamental is the conceptualization of spirituality as the creation of meaning, the sharing of which defines the parameters of communication. If animals and plants can comprehend their surroundings, create and share meaning and change their behaviours accordingly, then we must conceive of an inclusive spirituality in which all life is engaged. The implications of this, looking through the lenses of quantum spirituality and plant communication, provides the foundations for spirituality that is more inclusive than a human-centred spirituality.

In: Spirituality: An Interdisciplinary View

Spirituality is an operating concept in three inter-related areas: as a focus of social scientific and humanistic inquiry, as a significant aspect of humanistic and community praxis, and by educators reaching towards spirituality as a means to foster critical consciousness from the inside out, in the words of Paulo Freire. It also provides the foundation for Hope for, as Albert Schweitzer pointed out: ‘The only conceivable way of bringing about a reconstruction of our world on new lines is first of all to become new men (sic) ourselves... Everything else is more or less wasted labour, because we are thereby building not on the spirit, but on what is merely external’.1 Hope and Spirituality are intertwined. Without hope, what is the point of seeking the spiritual dimensions of life? Without seeking the spiritual, where is hope to be found? This chapter interrogates more closely how people can overcome their material experiences of loss and pain in order to heal by forgiving, both themselves and each other. The experiences of pain and loss, the desire for healing, and the search for greater meaning and purpose, have fostered examinations of the spiritual dimension of the human experience throughout time, across civilizations and cultures, for women and men, of every age, rich and poor, gay and straight, north and south, east and west. All of this is grounded in the sense of the possibilities for better futures, i.e., Hope.

In: Phoenix Rising from Contemporary Global Society

Quaker contributions to spirituality and a better society spring from the same centre: acts of faith that involve outreach to the world. In particular, Quakers are known for their opposition to war and the use of violence as a solution to personal and global disputes. A lesser-known example of the Quaker commitment to nonviolence is the Alternatives to Violence Project. This programme, which originated in an upstate New York prison, teaches skills and attitudes that can be used to address conflict non-violently. Workshops are now offered in prisons, schools and communities in 31 U.S. states and in 50 countries. An AVP program involves close cooperation between incarcerated and free participants, using the communication principles of affirmation, respect, cooperation, community building and trust to transform attitudes and lives. Individuals and groups work toward achieving greater ‘wholeness’ and make meaning while coping with what has been termed ‘senseless suffering.’ This chapter will draw on Habermas’ notion of communicative action to describe the peace-making communication principles that inform an Alternatives to Violence workshop.

In: Spirituality: New Reflections on Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy

Of the many changes emerging from the ongoing ‘Arab Spring’ of December 2010 to the present, none has been more significant than a newly found hope for political, social, and economic reform throughout the region. This hope has grown in a region replete with authoritarian and repressive systems, abetted by state controlled mass media that had dominated the various countries for many years. Information flow prior to the Arab Spring had been vertical, i.e., from the topdown. The unfolding of overt activity among people would have been hard to detect, much less predict, even a few months earlier. Indeed, for close to 40 years, research demonstrated that a Spiral of Silence (where people fear to dissent publically and then, hearing no supportive voices through mass media, would feel alone and isolated in their dissent), did exist in such circumstances. And yet, the Arab Spring occurred in 2011, resulting in revolutionary changes throughout the region. Among the many factors that have contributed to these changes have been the growing availability and use of what have been called ‘social media’ (e.g., the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, iPads, etc.), as well as the television network Al-Jazeera, headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Their growing availability and access, outside of government control, has allowed people to interact with each other horizontally, overcoming the monologic media dominated by state control. In so doing, they have facilitated a new phenomenon that we have labelled a Spiral of Voice. This chapter will trace the uses of social media in the Arab Spring, and the ways in which people have been using them to generate this Spiral of Voice. We argue that hope for a new political, economic, and social contract is both the foundation for, and the result of, this Spiral of Voice.

In: Hope in All Directions

Quaker contributions to spirituality and a better society spring from the same centre: acts of faith that involve outreach to the world. In particular, Quakers are known for their opposition to war and the use of violence as a solution to personal and global disputes. A lesser-known example of the Quaker commitment to nonviolence is the Alternatives to Violence Project. This programme, which originated in an upstate New York prison, teaches skills and attitudes that can be used to address conflict non-violently. Workshops are now offered in prisons, schools and communities in 31 U.S. states and in 50 countries. An AVP program involves close cooperation between incarcerated and free participants, using the communication principles of affirmation, respect, cooperation, community building and trust to transform attitudes and lives. Individuals and groups work toward achieving greater ‘wholeness’ and make meaning while coping with what has been termed ‘senseless suffering.’ This chapter will draw on Habermas’ notion of communicative action to describe the peace-making communication principles that inform an Alternatives to Violence workshop.

In: Spirituality: New Reflections on Theory, Praxis and Pedagogy

The emerging discipline of Spirituality Studies has undergone sea change in recent years. Once considered incompatible with academic scholarship, the field has proliferated in terms of institutional homes and peer-reviewed journals. While spirituality remains problematic—in terms of its subject, methods, pedagogies and even foundational definitions—its emergence as a field has been robust, spanning academic approaches, geographic locales and practical applications. This paper attempts to serve as a roadmap to the field. Moving from a religious concept to a sociological theory, the study of spirituality has been re-framed as a question of human experience. Scholars have broadened their interest to secular spirituality, and changing outlooks on the human condition have been employed to make sense of modern history. If spirituality is about the process of making and expressing meaning, important new questions have arisen with the growth of communication technologies and applications. New possibilities for expression and connection have necessarily reshaped current conceptualizations of spirituality. It has been operationalised in the study of all manners of physical and mental healing. Psychologists have examined its role in aging and dementia; addiction, coping, and resilience; and even creativity and personality. Nursing, social work, palliative care, psychiatry and other professions have reexamined its potential and place in the theory, teaching and praxis. These are especially meaningful because they mark the penetration of a once mystic concept into qualitative and quantitative science. Likewise, spirituality has become entwined with the emergence of environmentalism, giving birth to spiritual ecology, in keeping with the Gaia hypothesis. A further parallel, bio-spirituality has been coined to encapsulate the beliefs of those whose spiritual beliefs integrate with their vegetarianism. Drawing broadly on spirituality and its interdisciplinary literature, this paper assesses the state of the discipline, its current directions, and moves toward both consensus and enriching diversity.

In: Understanding New Perspectives of Spirituality