Socially Engaged Spirituality

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Certificate in Socially Engaged Spirituality

Certificate Program Co-Directors: Joel Federman, Ph.D. and Louis Hoffman, Ph.D.


This Certificate program involves the interconnection of study, spiritual practice, engagement in the world, personal reflection, social analysis, and practical training. Students from any approach to spirituality are welcome.

Participants study varied traditions and ways of articulating socially engaged spirituality, such as the nonviolence of Gandhi, King, and Aung San Suu Kyi; the activism of Christian liberation theology; the Jewish prophetic tradition and the life of Jesus; socially engaged Buddhism; indigenous approaches; and contemporary spiritually-based approaches to feminism and ecology, among others. Students link this study with their own spiritual practice and engagement in the world, and to experiential training in such areas as nonviolent action, contemplative practice, ritual, multiculturalism, and ecological awareness.

This Certificate program is co-sponsored by the Consciousness, Spirituality, & Integrated Health and the Transformative Social Change Specializations, and is available to students in any Saybrook degree program as well as to non-matriculated students.

Certificate Description

The Certificate in Socially Engaged Spirituality consists of four, three-credit courses, a three-credit practicum demonstrating applied work in the field, and a one-credit integrative seminar, which includes a capstone paper integrating the work completed for the Certificate. Required courses include CSIH 6560: Approaches to Socially Engaged Spirituality, TSC 6610: Social System Transformation Theory, TSC 6510: Theory and Practice of Nonviolence, and one of the following electives: TSC 6500: Ecological Psychology, PSY/TSC 6010: Multicultural Psychology, TSC 6505: Healthy Communities, TSC 7085: Globalism and Power, and TSC 6590: Peace Studies. Course substitutions must be agreed upon in advance with the Certificate Director.


A practicum equivalent to one month of full-time effort is required (TSC 8151: Practicum in Professional Practice). While each learner is responsible for creating his or her own practicum, Saybrook faculty members are available to provide ideas and guidance. The practicum must be directly involved in some aspect of socially engaged spirituality.

Integrative Paper or Project

The final activity in the Certificate program is the writing of a culminating paper that integrates and advances the learning gained from the four courses and the practicum (TSC/CSIH 8950: Certificate Integrative Seminar).

Learning Objectives

Upon completing this Certificate, students will:

  • Understand a variety of spiritual approaches to engaged social, political, and environmental activism.
  • Be able to evaluate existing theories and strategies of nonviolent social change.
  • Develop a critical understanding of the relationship between religious and spiritual philosophical approaches and their socio-political implications.
  • Develop a critical awareness of the risks associated with ideological adherence to various religious and spiritual points of view, and an appreciation for a diversity of such viewpoints.
  • Be able to apply multiple theories, models, and strategies of nonviolent social change and socially engaged spirituality to real-world contexts.