Saybrook Graduate Aurora Sidney Ando Shares Her Perspectives on Creativity and Helping At-Risk Communities05/11/2015
Aurora Sidney Ando, a 2015 Saybrook University Ph.D. graduate in Psychology specializing in Creativity Studies, used her dissertation research to create a community art project to help marginalized youth in at-risk communities in Anchorage, Alaska. We asked her about what motivated her to pursue Creativity Studies and to use it to support others in her community.
Saybrook student Joel Sereboff is completing his Ph.D. dissertation this semester in the Creativity Studies specialization in the School of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Inquiry. His research includes narrative inquiry and an autoethnographic exploration of his own creative process as an inventor. In this interview Sereboff explains his reasons for doing the research, and doing it at Saybrook.
Saybrook University student Monisha Rios tells us about her experiences as a U.S. veteran, concerns with the mental health industry, and how Saybrook has helped her.
Tell us about what life was life before Saybrook:
The foundation for my work was laid by my personal experiences in seeking services from the VA. It all began in 1998. I was freshly discharged from the Army and fully equipped with advice from one of my drill sergeants. She told me to go straight to the VA for counseling as soon as I got out, since going to mental health on active duty was certain death for your career. I did as instructed but was turned away because, according to the staff member I spoke with, despite my having been sexually harassed and assaulted multiple times, I had not been penetrably raped, so therefore I did not “deserve” to ask for help. To make matters worse, they told me I was not eligible for any care because I was discharged before 24 months, even though my service was honorable. The Army told me I was a veteran deserving of care, why was the VA disagreeing? The only way I could get care at that point was if I had been medically discharged or attained a disability rating. Since I had been conveniently denied a medical board evaluation prior to discharge there was only one choice. On I went through the ridiculous claims process.
by Diana Rivera
The Academy Awards could be a time to honor professional artists who have impacted the entertainment industry and the world. Many have told stories that have challenged history, defied reality, and surpassed former limitations of storytelling and technology. In some cases the awards have become a who-is-who industry game, a competition between artists, and the focus on glamour and parties that celebrities attend often overshadow the powerful vehicle of human expression that is film.
This years award program proved to be a space for artists social and political commentary. Patricia Arquette spoke of wage increases for women, while Alejandro Inarritu made a shout out to improvements in the Mexican government. The stage became a soap box to those who were honored, allowing them to highlight areas of deep personal concern. Graham Moore’s speech also illumined some important humanistic concerns: suicide, authenticity and human potential.
Saybrook alumna Dr. Dr. Aurora Sidney-Ando isn't the only member of the Saybrook community to be interviewed on ServiceSpace.
Dr. Ruth Richards, a legendary scholar on the creativity of everyday life and member of our faculty, has also been profiled and interviewed there.
by JoAnn McAllister, PhD, Director, Human Science Program
The last few weeks I have received several announcements from organizations that I belong to about Black History Month. This includes PBS, NPR, San Francisco Friends of the Library, education and non-profit organizations. The last one asked me to speak to the “themes of diversity and Black History Month.” Even though I have done my share of civil rights actions for a variety communities and causes over the decades, I felt alienated from this request. Wondering what was at the core of my angst, I started to pay more attention to what was going on in the media, especially the ones I pay attention to most:. Every forum had stories connected to Black History month (officially African-American since 1982); some stories were even critical. Wow, I thought, that takes courage in this day of instant backlash if one “mis-speaks” about a social or cultural issue.
The various designated cultural heritage months are the result of Congressional legislation in a long history of attempting to recognize and reconcile the many ethnic/racial and cultural communities that make up the American stew. Note, I didn’t use the proverbial “melting pot,” since it is plain we haven’t melted.
As a child, Saybrook alumna Dr. Aurora Sidney-Ando was so shy she used to hide behind books.
But it was the arts - especially painting - that helped her overcome that burden. At Saybrook, she studied how the arts can be used to help others, and worked to help teenage girls express themselves through paintings.
Dr. Sidney-Ando tells us all about it in a moving interview she gave ServiceSpace.com, which you can read here.
We see new forms of protest, powered by social media and a new approach to art, popping up around the globe. What are they? How do they work?
At the January 2015 Saybrook Residential Conference, Dr. Joel Federman, director of Saybrook's graduate program in Transformative Social Change, gave a 20 minute lecture explaining this phenomenon, what he calls: "Open Source Politics."
We've put it up online, complete with slides. View Open Source Politics here.
Of course, anyone can take these principles and participate. That's the point.
With problems such as climate change, unsustainable population growth, and increased disparity between the economic classes staring us in the face, it seems obvious that a new social conversation is needed. We no longer have time to argue the details; it’s all to clear that we need to change our behavior as species without delay or all could be lost. The trans-disciplinary Human Science approach to studying our problems is urgently needed in order to understand how we got here and how we are going to fix it.
Regardless of culture, religion, race, or political leanings, all humans love their children and hope for a better future for them. To understand the obstacles that may stand in the way of that, research that strives to shed light on the human condition and understand the why of financial systems, philosophies, societies, governments and individuals is needed. Broad-mindedness and ingenuity in exploring new solutions will bring the best and brightest to the foreground. This is precisely what Human Science scholarship and research does. The common thread that runs through all areas of study in H.S. is the goal for humans to have a more meaningful, gratifying experience of their lives.
One of the first programs of study offered at Saybrook University was Human Science. Grounded in European social science theories, Human Science is a lens that focuses on a holistic understanding of human behavior rather than reductionist explanations. It approaches inquiry about the human condition through questions about the nature of knowledge, how it is acquired, and who controls it. Researchers from a wide variety of disciplines may benefit from exploring their areas of interests through this lens.
Most important things about human behavior cannot be easily measured. Under the umbrella of Human Science, researchers across many fields have developed, and are continuing to develop, trans-disciplinary ways of studying these intangibles. A Human Science degree allows students to approach areas of research that interest them, but do not fit neatly into predetermined boxes. Current Saybrook Human Science students are researching subjects as varied as ethics, sex trafficking, dream therapy, diversity in higher education, women’s education in the Middle East, and the intersections of art, justice, and social change. These are wildly diverse topics, but what they have in common is the 360-degree way the researcher is approaching them. Each of these students is considering the beliefs, historical influences, systems, and global contexts of their topic in order to develop an understanding of the issues and the meaning that people attribute to their experiences.