Saybrook University


Survey says email is good, collaboration is better


A recent survey conducted on Saybrook’s technology tools shows that most Saybrook classes are barely scratching the potential of communications technology.

According to the online survey, developed by Saybrook’s Dean of Instruction Eric Fox, the vast majority of students (73%) usually keep in touch with faculty via email, and almost never with text messaging or chat with audio or video.  About half of students reported using listservs to develop group discussions in classes, and less than a quarter reported that classes use blogs, wikis, or online portfolios.
By the same token, email is by far the most popular technology asked for, with an overwhelming majority (80%) saying they were “very interested” in contacting faculty through email.  No other technology scored as well, but 80% students reported that they were at least “somewhat interested” in the use of online bulletin boards, videos, self-paced online tutorials, and audio clips/podcasts. A majority of students also expressed interest in the use of online chatrooms or instant messaging, phone conferencing, blogs, wikis, electronic portfolios, listservs, and audio or video chats.
Students also say they’d like opportunities for increased collaboration.  Just over half of students (57.4%) would like to collaborate more with other students on projects or courses, and a majority of students (74.7%) either felt that Saybrook’s technological tools were insufficient for building community among students, or were neutral on the question.

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Saybrook announces the Jim and Elizabeth Bugental scholarship fund


Admirers, alumni, and friends of Saybrook have established a scholarship fund in the memory of Saybrook founder James F.T. Bugental, PhD, and Elizabeth Keber Bugental, PhD. 

The scholarship will support Saybrook students interested in studying the tradition of existential and experiential psychotherapy developed in the teaching and writing of Jim and Elizabeth. 

“Many in the Saybrook community have been deeply moved and influenced by Elizabeth and Jim,” said Saybrook President Lorne Buchman, “and the creation of this annual award is an opportunity to demonstrate our gratitude for and recognition of their enduring contributions to humanistic thought and practice. 

In the commencement address that Elizabeth gave to Saybrook graduates in 2006, she encouraged our students to “bear daily witness to the glory of the human spirit, the power of determination, the joy of connection, and the endurance of love.”

“In their lives, Elizabeth and Jim did just that,” Buchman says, “and we are proud that their names will continue to be connected to Saybrook through this new scholarship.”

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Dreams are made of better stuff


It was, according to the New York Times, a breakthrough in the study of dreams.

“(S)ocial scientists now have answers,” about what dreams “mean,” wrote Times science blogger John Tierny, “and really, it’s about time.”

He was referring to a meta-analysis published by the APA showing that “people engage
in motivated interpretation of their dreams and that these interpretations impact their everyday lives.”

In other words, there is a selection bias in the way we interpret dreams:  we’re more likely to act on the basis of dreams that reinforce our existing prejudices, and less likely to believe in dreams that tell us things we don’t want to hear.

Voila! Tierny wrote.  These “suspiciously convenient correlations” mean that your dreams mean “whatever your bias says.”  Problem solved.

Saybrook’s experts in dream studies are not impressed. 

“I find it interesting and not a little amusing that one should do studies to show that our cultures and belief systems influence how we interpret dreams,” says Claire Frederick, a faculty member in Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine and Consciousness and Spirituality programs.  “From a strictly neuroscience point of view, this seems obvious.”

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Be a Librarian: See the World


For Annemarie Welteke, the only problem with her job as a librarian is the marketing:  she thinks the Navy stole her slogan.
“You know how they used to say ‘see the world, join the Navy?’” Saybrook’s librarian asks.  “I always think of it as:  see the world, become a librarian.  I know it’s not so common an experience, but really the job of librarian is much the same throughout the world.  Having worked in five different countries, I can practice as a librarian anywhere.”
Recently she had a chance to prove it, when – as the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Senior Specialist award – Annemarie served as a peer advisor to the national library of Bahrain, and to the library of the University of Bahrain. 
For anyone else, this might have been the opportunity of a lifetime.  But for Annemarie, it was one more stop in a lifetime of opportunities. 
Annemarie’s career has taken her from Japan (three years) to Ethiopia (nine years) to India (one year) and to the U.S.  Here at Saybrook, she found her intellectual home – but of course she wanted to travel again.  

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Research Opportunity: Discover the "Power of Place"


We’ve all been to a “special place” – even if we couldn’t explain what that meant.  Some places are romantic, others profound, and some have history written all over them.

How does that happen?  How do they get that way?  Most importantly, could such places, and the way we relate to them, cultivate them, and care for them, have a powerful impact on what happens there? 

Saybrook Organizational Systems alumna Renee Levi is heading up a new research project on the Power of Places to influence people and events. 

The Powers of Place Collaborative (website currently under construction) is an 18-month initiative supported by the Fetzer Institute and the Berkana Institute that will “catalyze a new field of study and practice based on the premise that right relationship between people and the places in which they gather offers the potential for transformative action needed change in the world,” Levi says. 

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Is a "Nanny" state a "healthy" state?


It didn’t get much buzz in America, but across the pond Britons are still talking (so we’re told) about a BBC commentary made last month by Dr Alan Maryon-Davis, the President of the UK Faculty of Public Health.

In it, Dr. Maryon-Davis says that public health has become a significant enough social issue that the government must intervene at far more significant levels to ensure participation and effectiveness.  Sound like a “nanny state?”  Yes, says Maryon-Davis, it does:  and that’s not a bad thing.

“Is the government 'nannying' us too much” to help prevent killers like heart disease, strokes, and cancer?  Maryon-Davis writes.  “Is it trying too hard to micro-manage our health?  I say firmly - no.”

Here at Saybrook, many faculty have been advocating a changing governmental role in health care for years:  Mind-Body Medicine faculty member Marie DiCowden, for example, has overseen public hearings on the way the government – at all levels – can encourage best practice. 

But at the same time, DiCowden says, the idea of “nannying” doesn’t seem to get it quite right.

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Building America's first "green highway"


Imagine a highway stretching along the coast from California to Mexico – with alternative, eco-friendly fuels available at every rest stop.  Need compressed natural gas?  Electricity?  Biodiesel?  Hydrogen?  They’d offer it to every car that passes by.

That’s the dream of three state governors - Gov. Chris Gregoire in Washington, Gov. Ted Kulongoski in Oregon, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California – who envision America’s first “Green Highway” across 1,300 miles of coastland. 

If the idea can clear federal and state regulations … not to mention opposition from business groups who say alternative refueling stations at rest stops would take business away from nearby private entities … it would be a milestone in both American environmentalism and inter-state cooperation. 

Nancy Southern, who directs Saybrook’s Organizational Systems program, says it also might be a good reason to finally buy an alternative fuel vehicle.

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Saybrook Save the Dates


Saybrook has some great community programs coming up in the months ahead.


Thursday, April 2

The Saybrook Dialogues kick off 2009 with “Leadership, Wisdom, and Making a Difference.” Organizer Marc Lesser, the founder and president of coaching and facilitation company ZBA Associates and the former director of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, will focus the conversations on making meaning of our personal and professional lives during uncertain and challenging times.

For more information, or to RSVP, call Terry Hopper at 415-394-5220


Tuesday, April 14

An Alumni Community Web-Cast Gathering featuring Saybrook faculty Don-Moss, who will present on the new Mind-Body Medicine degrees and college at Saybrook, followed by a Q&A. 

To sign up Contact:

Saturday, June 13

Alumnus Brian Kolodiejchuk, PhD ’01, Author and Editor of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light and the Superior General of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Fathers, and Alumnus Joseph Bobrow, PhD ’80, Zen Roshi and Founder and Director of the Coming Home Project will give a joint talk at the Saybrook Residential Conference.



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Emotion is at the heart of the heart


It seems that anger really can kill you:  a furious heart can burst, and a sorrowful heart can break.

That’s the result of recent research published in the latest issue of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  According to the research, anger leads to irregular heart rhythms, which increase the chance of mortality, especially among those with already weak hearts.  The effect has been observed, according to the researchers, across whole populations put under stressors – like the loss of a World Cup match. 

That may be news, but it’s not a surprise to scholars and practitioners of complimentary medicine.

For decades Mind-Body Medicine has been following the way that both emotions generally, and in tandem with the heart specifically, really do impact health and mortality, according to Donald Moss, director of Saybrook’s program in Mind-Body medicine. 

In fact, as Moss wrote in a chapter of a forthcoming book on anger and heart disease, the idea goes back a lot farther than that. 

“This is not a new perspective,” says Moss.  “Aristotle believed that the heart was the center of the human body, the seat of the soul and the emotions, and a primary sense organ of the body. For example, he defined anger as a seething heat in the region of the heart.  The ‘cardiocentric’ theory was widespread in the ancient world, and included an assumption that the heart was the seat of mental processes including thinking and memory.”

Okay, clearly they got some of that wrong – but not as much as cardiology once thought.  Research has shown for some time that there is a clear two-way communication between the heart and the brain – and the effects can be big. 

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Bargain hunting for religion


First the Obamas had the country in a tizzy over what dog they were going to pick.  Now they’re looking for a church. 

You better believe that’s getting press coverage. 

But amid the clamor and hype about the first couple “church shopping,” a fundamental truth about American life is being brought into focus:  people really do “shop” for their places of worship today in a way that they never did 50 years ago. 

The very idea that selecting a family church could be viewed through the same lens as selecting the family dog is a difficult one for many places of worship to swallow:  it puts them in a “marketplace,” a competitive, sell-or-die, environment where their parishioners are “customers” – and they can’t count on customer loyalty.  In fact, 44 percent of American adults have switched churches and even religions, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life. 

“Constant movement characterizes the American religious marketplace,” their survey says.

Lois Koteen, a Saybrook student getting her PhD in Organizational Systems, is familiar with these trends:  her consulting work specializes in helping synagogues change their governance structures and staff approaches to better serve and attract congregants.  In her experience, places of worship greet these with a sense of panic.

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