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Sam M. Crowell, Jr.

University of Virginia, Ed.D. 1992

Radford University, M.S.
Carson-Newman College, B.A.

 
Sam is professor emeritus from California State University, San Bernardino where he was the recipient of both the Outstanding Teaching Award and the Outstanding Professional Accomplishments Award. He is the founder of the Masters Program in Holistic and Integrative Education and a founding member of the Network in Spirituality and Education. In addition, besides being part of the faculty at SDGI, he is an affiliate faculty of the UNESCO Chair and Center for Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter at the United Nation’s University for Peace. Sam’s books include Mindshifts, The Re-Enchantment of Learning, and a new book with David Reid-Marr entitled Emergent Teaching: A Path for Significance, Transformation, and Creativity.

He describes himself as a “reconceptualist” because his work has focused on reframing educational practice, exploring especially the implications of the “new” sciences of quantum mechanics, adaptive open systems, chaos and complexity sciences, socio-neurobiology, and the overarching concepts of connectedness, wholeness, relatedness, self-organization and emergence. He has authored and co-authored several books on brain-based learning as well as articles and chapters dealing with new paradigms in education, holistic pedagogies, spiritual perspectives, and educational reform. He is currently teaching master classes internationally that explore a values-based approach to incorporating the International Earth Charter into educational cultures, especially promoting Education for Sustainability and Well-Being. His latest book with David Reid-Marr, Emergent Teaching: A Path of Creativity, Significance, and Transformation, is his latest attempt to bring these ideas and interests together

Main Interests/Focus Areas

Education for Sustainable Development; Instructional Leadership in Higher Education; Brain-Based Learning Principles; Meaning Centered Curriculum; Integrated Curriculum; Holistic Education; Academic Literacy and the Arts; Spirituality and Education; Creating Sacred Environments for Learning; Spiritual Foundations of Holistic Education; School Restructuring and Change; Collaborative Action Research; Thematic Planning; Interdisciplinary Instruction; Complex Instruction and the Teaching of Science; Complex Instruction and Social Studies; Building Community in Classrooms; Rights, Respect, and Responsibility; Diversity & Conflict; The Art of Storytelling; Teaching through the Writing Process; Differentiated Instruction: Gifted Students in Regular Classrooms

Sam lives in Idyllwild, California

Sam lives in Idyllwild, California

Personal Statement

scrowell-location3Being a “teacher” is one of the strongest identities I hold; teaching is part of my creative impulse, my service to the world. But I have had to constantly redefine for myself what it means to “teach” and thus have discovered the power of unlearning, and how learning and unlearning are part of a dynamic whole.

Although I studied English and philosophy in college, as a young graduate I found myself teaching in a small elementary school deep in the hills of Appalachia. In this insular social setting where the outside world truly seemed far away, I learned a great deal about a sense of place, the bonds of culture and tradition, and the differences between simplicity and poverty. The opportunity to stretch the boundaries of conventional education, both as a teacher and an administrator, is something I will forever be grateful for. The lessons I learned from these experiences stay with me still.

I became interested (passionate) very early in my career in the possibility of a changing paradigm that would bring into being a new world view in which wholeness, interconnectedness, and integration would become dominant themes. I was particularly drawn to explore provocative ideas from physical and biological sciences and new research from the neurosciences that emphasized connections, relatedness, complexity, and wholeness. They connected with me philosophically and spiritually. They became the basis for my own theoretical development of educational practice.

When the implications of these ideas were embedded in educational practices, I discovered they led to amazing results in terms of student achievement and intellectual development. And when these new assumptions took hold in schools, organizational change was both dramatic and natural. Unexpectedly, what also became apparent was that when individuals shifted their perception to an interconnected, relational, participatory worldview, the personal transformation that followed was often described as “life-changing.”

scrowell-location4The challenge of making these ideas and understandings a part of my life and teaching has consumed me for the past twenty-five years. It led to creating a holistic education masters degree at a state university, shaped my consulting and writing, and has had a lasting impact on the spiritual direction of my life.

For me these ideas are interwoven also within the assumptions of the International Earth Charter and I have taken it as my mission to help make them come to life in a way that transforms educational practice and culture. Working directly with educators committed to the values of care, sustainability, justice, and peace and well-being has engaged me in a heart-felt commitment. I see this work as my way to contribute to the transformation of our time with a spirit of love and joy.
I so appreciate the interactive learning that takes place in SDGI and it is inspiring to be engaged with SDGI learners who are changing the world in their own unique and powerful ways.

SDGI Courses

PM 534 Emergent Teaching: Educating for Creativity, Significance, and Transformation (3 credits)
Learners in this this course engage in a journey toward responsive learning, where knowledge becomes connected to who we are as human beings—not just intellectual capacities but our capacity for altruistic concern, selfless service, collaborative action, and creative wisdom.

The sciences of complexity, chaos, and cognitive constructive theory share some common assumptions that include an emphasis on holistic relationships, dynamical change, and emerging patterns of organization. These themes are particularly relevant to discussions that deal with teaching the whole person, new understandings of process, project-based learning, transformative learning, incorporating story and narrative, and building community in the classroom.

There is a resonance with wisdom traditions that have informed human history for millennia and remain with us as guides and reminders of our innate wisdom. Learners in this course explore some of the key foundational principles of emergent systems, with an emphasis on the importance of connectedness, relatedness, dynamic change and process in the context of teaching and learning. This is not merely a scientific or abstract study, but rather a narrative inquiry into creative emergence and transformation based on stories and experience. The course highlights how the development of community as an open, adaptive, self-organizing system can enhance learning. Our exploration expands the notion of context to include issues outside the classroom and inside the person. The course also addresses the holistic, embodied nature of the learning process and the importance of the arts in constructing meaning.

PM 535 Earth Charter Pedagogy: A Values-Based Approach to Sustainable Well-Being, Ecological Integrity, and Social Justice (3 credits)
Learners in this course gain an introduction to the vision and substance of the Earth Charter (EC) and how it can be incorporated into schools and classrooms as a foundation for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The course focuses on content and pedagogy, as well as the creation of an EC culture where students experience the values and ethical dimensions of sustainability. The Earth Charter provides a transformative force and offers an essential foundation for sustainability. Perhaps the most inclusive international document in history, it was created “…to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy and a culture of peace.”

This course is about more than sustainable development. We will look holistically at what it means for an individual or a community of learners to act from a place of understanding, compassion, and love; to understand nature from a perspective of biophilia, deep connection, and as one source of our identity; to work in local and global communities to create an inclusive society that is pluralistic and just; and to open up spaces for democratic participation based on non-violence and open-hearted peace. The assumptions of interconnection and universal responsibility are applied to multiple contexts and the flourishing and thriving of the human spirit are applied to an exploration of well-being, service, and spiritual wisdom.

PM 536 Holistic Education: An Integrative Paradigm for Learning, Knowing, and Being (3 credits)
In the field of holistic health there are six interactive elements identified that contribute to the well-being and health of an individual. They include the mental, emotional, social, physical, environmental, and spiritual conditions of life. These elements have been affirmed within the mainstream medical community even though they are not universally applied. If we explore the current research in the neurosciences, cognitive theory, social-psychology, and learning it is clear that these categories can be applied to education. Importantly, these holistic elements are not isolated but are continually interacting together to create an integrative view of a living organism.

This vision is part of a paradigmatic change leading not to just an alternative cultural narrative, but to a new way of living and being. Holistic Education represents not just another way of teaching, and it is not just an extension of progressive education models. It is a fundamentally alternative perception of the world and within that perception comes the challenge to think, act, and live differently.

Learners in this course will explore this new mapping of reality from the implications of enactive and embodied processes of learning to new research methodologies to new understandings of curriculum, schooling, and organizations.

Websites

Dr. Sam Crowell on his 2013 program with the Earth Charter

Sam is a Faculty member, Earth Charter Center and UNESCO Chair for Education for Sustainable Development and the Earth Charter, University for Peace, Costa Rica.

A new UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development and the Earth Charter has been established through the Earth Charter Center on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), the University for Peace (UPEACE), and UNESCO for a period of three years. The purpose of the Chair is to promote transformative education experiences that cultivate the fundamental values and ethical vision necessary to move towards a more sustainable world.
The uniqueness of this project is that it will work at the intersection of education, sustainability, and ethics using the Earth Charter as a framework. It will develop workshops and courses for educators, young leaders, and business groups. The courses will also offer an opportunity to further explore the practical implementation of the sustainability paradigm and the Earth Charter principles in management, leadership, and education settings.

The Reenchantment of LearningEmergent TeachingPublications

Articles and Papers

  • Emergent Teaching: A Path of Creativity, Significance, and Transformation
  • The Re-Enchantment of Learning, and Mindshifts.
  • A Holistic Vision of Peace Education and Sustainability Using the Earth Charter. 2015. UNESCO
  • “Teaching From the Inside Out,” with David Reid-Marr in Spirituality, Ethnography, and Teaching: Stories From Within, edited by Diana Denton and Will Ashton. New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 2007.
  • “Applying Illich and Whitehead to Educational Alternatives,” with Lourdes Arguelles. White Paper for The Legacy of Ivan Illich. 2004.
  • “The Spiritual Journey of a Taoist Educator,” In Nurturing Our Wholeness: Perspectives on Spirituality and Education, edited by John P. Miller and Yoshiharu Nakagawa, Brandon, VT.: Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2002.
  • “Restructuring as an Integrative Process,” with Renate Caine, in Restructuring for Integrative Education: Multiple Perspectives, Multiple Contexts. Bergin and Garvey, 1997.
  • “Landscapes of Change,” lead chapter in Integrative Learning as a Pathway to Teaching for Holism, Complexity, and Interconnectedness. Mellon Press, 1995.

Chapters

  • “A Holistic Vision of Peace Education and Sustainability Using the Earth Charter,” a book to be published by UNESCO. 2016.
  • “Teaching From the Inside Out,” with David Reid-Marr in Spirituality, Ethnography, and Teaching: Stories From Within, edited by Diana Denton and Will Ashton. New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 2007.
  • “Applying Illich and Whitehead to Educational Alternatives,” with Lourdes Arguelles. White Paper for The Legacy of Ivan Illich. 2004.
  • “The Spiritual Journey of a Taoist Educator,” In Nurturing Our Wholeness: Perspectives on Spirituality and Education, edited by John P. Miller and Yoshiharu Nakagawa, Brandon, VT.: Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2002.
  • “Restructuring as an Integrative Process,” with Renate Caine, in Restructuring for Integrative Education: Multiple Perspectives, Multiple Contexts. Bergin and Garvey, 1997.
  • “Landscapes of Change,” lead chapter in Integrative Learning as a Pathway to Teaching for Holism, Complexity, and Interconnectedness. Mellon Press, 1995.

Consulting Topics

  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Holistic Education and Learning
  • Instructional Leadership in Higher Education
  • Brain-Based Learning Principles
  • Meaning Centered Curriculum
  • Integrated Curriculum
  • Academic Literacy and the Arts
  • Spirituality and Education
  • Creating Sacred Environments for Learning
  • Spiritual Foundations of Holistic Education
  • School Restructuring and Change
  • Collaborative Action Research
  • Thematic Planning
  • Interdisciplinary Instruction
  • Complex Instruction and the Teaching of Science
  • Complex Instruction and Social Studies
  • Building Community in Classrooms
  • Rights, Respect, and Responsibility:
  • Diversity and Conflict
  • The Art of Storytelling
  • Teaching through the Writing Process
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Gifted Students in Regular Classrooms

Earth Charter Pedagogy: Integrating Peace Education and ESD

Sam Crowell

 

We . . . keep going toward

That blessed light that yet to us is dark.

– Wendell Berry –

 

Those who work in the fields of Peace Education and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to a large extent come to embrace the mystery and paradox of an obscure future – one that is imagined and hoped for and one that often seems to be an unimaginable manifestation of our deepest fears. Both hope and cynicism are choices, and while these chosen dispositions may certainly affect a call to action, neither is adequate for the creation of a more peaceful and sustainable world.

  1. Buckminster Fuller suggested that “you never change things by fighting existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” (in Renesh, 2012, p. 20). This chapter will present a pedagogical model based on the values and assumptions of the International Earth Charter. In applying this model to Peace Education and Education for Sustainable Development, the emphasis will be on outlining an Earth Charter pedagogy whereby the content and goals of Peace Education and ESD can be experienced and applied. This also means addressing the traditional frameworks of education and imagining a different kind of educational culture in which peace and sustainability become living ideas emergent with creative potential.

Stop the killing, or

I’ll kill you, you

God-damned murderer!

– Wendell Berry –

Our lives and our institutions are fraught with contradictions. In terms of education, the difficulty of addressing the issues of peace and sustainability in an effective and meaningful way is tied to the structure of education itself. Hart (2014) observes that historically many well-intentioned educational initiatives either did not succeed or became diluted and distorted from their original intent. He noted that too often, partially implemented and new programs are difficult to sustain (p. 8).

This is because the underlying assumptions that created modern schooling continue to reinforce a philosophical framework that acts as a hidden curriculum: 1) Learning is segmented and fractured with little integration or interdisciplinary relationship; 2) School goals are elevated over life goals or social reconstruction; 3) Both individual and institutional progress are measured by evaluation models that are primarily deficit driven; 4) The curricula is largely dissociated from students’ lives and their quests for meaning and significance; and 5) There is an obsession with objectivity and facts divorced from value, application, and human capacity (Crowell, Caine, and Caine, 2001, p. 25).

When such assumptions prevail, the impact of Peace Education and Education for Sustainable Development are limited and reduced. The Dalai Lama (1999) wrote that “education is much more than a matter of imparting the knowledge and skills by which narrow goals are achieved. . .We must show children that their actions have a universal dimension” (p. 181). The emphasis of showing rather than telling is repeated when he explained that “the importance of concern for others is learned not from words but from actions. . . .” (p. 182).

Values-based curricula require values-oriented processes where the learning activities as well as the learning environment become not just consistent with, but part of, the curricula. When Peace Education and ESD are manifested and embodied into the learning culture and become the basis for the way we treat one another and the environment, then concepts, information, and skills become relevant and real in the lives of students.