University of Utah
Confirmation of spiritual diversity in love and community
Honors 472
by David Derezotes, LCSW, PhD
Associate Professor
Graduate School of Social Work,
801-585-3546

If "spiritual hunger" is the dis-ease (or principal unmet need) of our era, perhaps it is most apparent in the disconnectedness many of us report we feel in our relationships with our selves, our lovers and families, and our local and global communities.

Participants in this class will explore the dynamics of and interrelationship between maturing love, the healthy community of diversity, and life-span spiritual development. In addition to discussion and lecture, the instructor will utilize role plays, small group discussions, and other experiential learning strategies. Students will turn in weekly journal assignments, and will develop a personal research project in which they study spiritual development. This five credit, one semester University Honors Program class will be taught Spring Semester, 1998.

Students will have opportunities for service learning as they identify, interview, and work with adults in their community whom they feel have achieved spiritual maturity. It is anticipated that many of these adults will be aging people with various unmet psychosocial needs. The instructor is a clinical professor of social work with 25 years of practice experience.

Criteria for designation of service-learning classes:

(1) Elderly individuals who are in need of a visitor will be identified with the help of LifeCare Services, a Hospice care organization, or a similar organization

(2) Students will learn more about what spiritual maturity is by interacting with and serving these adults.

(3) Each week, students write a reaction paper which summarizes what they learned in the classroom and in the "field". The instructor will respond to each paper and provide a grade. In addition, class discussions will provide opportunities for guidance, questions, and dialogue.

(4) (see (3)). Students will also write a summary paper in which they develop their own theory of what spiritual maturity is and its relationship with human love and healthy communities of diversity.

(5) The serivce recipient will be involved in the evaluation of the students' service. Either the professor or teaching assistant will send a letter to each service recipient requesting feedback which will include an evaluation form and a self-addressed and stamped envelope.

(6) Both civic and career-oriented learning will be fostered through the service learning opportunities. The instructor will focus upon these interrelated goals during in-class experiential learning and dialogues.

(7) Assigned readings and lectures will cover issues that are relevant to student's service placements. Class time will include discussions of the service being done, and reflection sessions to facilitate integraitng the readings and the students' service experiences.

(8) Each class will include dialogue and experiential learning exercises during which students can learn from each other.

(9) No student is required to participate in a service placement that creates a religious, political, and/or moral conflict for the student.

Introduction

If "spiritual hunger" is the dis-ease (or principal unmet need) of our era, perhaps it is most apparent in the disconnectedness many of us report we feel in our relationships with our selves, our lovers and families, and our local and global communities.

Participants in this class will explore the dynamics of and interrelationship between maturing love, the healthy community of diversity, and life-span spiritual development. In addition to discussion and lecture, the instructor will utilize role plays, small group discussions, and other experiential learning strategies. Students will turn in weekly journal assignments, and will develop a personal research project in which they study spiritual development.

Theoretical Framework

Spirituality (literally the "breath of life,,) is defined in the course as an intrapsychic dimension of human development, in which the individual strives for "higher" states of well-being, consciousness, or meaning. The literature suggests that there are many interrelated aspects to spirituality. Spirituality has been variously defined as a "relationship to a force greater than oneself" (Netting et al., 1990, p. 6), and the individual's effort to transcend the self and relate to the ultimate (Joseph, 1988, p. 444). One premise of the course is that spirituality is an innate characteristic of all people. The concept of spirituality also includes such aspects as the desire for meaning and purpose, tuning into intuition or "inner vision", the desire to unite with an ultimate reality, and the desire to realize one's true Self or inner potential (Cowley, 1993; Cowley & Derezotes, 1994; Canda, 1989; Siporin, 1985). The hunger for spirituality has been identified by many authors as a key factor associated with most of the significant psychosocial problems of our times (e.g., Grof & Grof, 1989; Bettelheim, 1983; Small, 1982; Maslow, 1971; Fabry, 1968).

Spirituality is not to be confused with "religion" or "religiosity." Religion (literally to "bring together") is defined in the course as a system of beliefs, rituals, and behaviors, usually shared by individuals within an institutionalized structure. Religiosity has often been equated with theology in the literature and has been variously defined as "a relationship to or membership in an organized faith community that institutionalizes a system of religious beliefs, attitudes, and practices," (Netting et al., 1990, p. 6), and/or as an "external expression of faith" that is "comprised of beliefs ... that unite an individual with a moral community" (Joseph, 1988, p. 444). Siporin (1985, p. 211) has defined religion as a system of beliefs, precepts, and practices, generally contained within an institutional structure. It is within communal organizations and congregations that people become members and take on religious roles, identities, and relationships. The distinction between spirituality and institutionalized religion is emphasized in the course, and boundaries between the two maintained.

Students will:

(1) Explore the relationships between spirituality and the great psychosocial issues of our times, as described in the literature. These issues include the decline of (a) the global ecology and the global community, (b) the local community, and (c) the postmodern marriage and family.

(2) Explore the literature of Transpersonal Theory, the "Fourth Force" of psychology and selected doctrines from major religions. Transpersonal Psychology attends to the spiritual dimension of human development.

(3) Explore Postmodern models of spiritual, relationship, and community development for men and women across the life span.

(4) Utilize the academic learning outlined above to help inform their own personal, ongoing multidimensional development.

Textbooks and Other Resources:

Moore, T. (1994) . Soul mates: Honoring the mysteries of love and relationship. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Brothers, B. J. (Ed.) . (1992) . Spirituality and couples: Heart and soul in the therapy process. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.

Mindell, A. (1995) . Sitting in the fire: Large group transformation using conflict and diversity. Portland, OR: Lao Tse Press.

Peck, M. S. (1987) . The different drum: Community making and peace. New York: Simon& Schuster.

Assignments and Grading

Self-graded class participation: (20 points)

Students will grade themselves on class participation, utilizing a final report form supplied by instructor.

Personal Journal (reaction papers: (80 points)

Beginning on the second week of class and continuing each week through the last class, each student will submit a journal which contains the following:

(1) Reactions to the class experiences from the week before

(2) Reactions to the class readings for the current week

These materials will be returned each following week by the instructor. They will be graded on the basis of content, thoroughness, creativity, and organization.

Spiritual maturity interview: (30 points)

Each student will conduct a face to face (or if necessary telephone) interview of the most spiritually mature man and an interview of the most spiritually mature woman that the student knows. The interview questions are included with this syllabus. On the last day of class, students will submit summaries of the interviews (responses to questions).

Model of spiritual development and maturity: (70 points)

Each student will also submit on the last day of class her or his own model of adult spiritual maturity. This model should reflect what the student has learned in the class assignments and experiences and should include:

(a) What spiritual development and spiritual maturity is

(b) what seems to foster and what seems to obstruct spiritual development across the life span

(c) Any differences and similarities between spiritual development in men and in women

(d) Relationship between spiritual development and religion

(e) Relationship between spiritual development, love, and family

(f) Relationship between spiritual development and community

(g) Where student sees herself or himself on this model of spiritual development


Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 16:02:17 MST
From: Renee Buchanan <RBUCHAN@ssb1.saff.utah.edu>
To: crews@csf.colorado.edu
Subject: Honors 472 -- Derezotas