Saybrook University


Meet our new students


Saybrook held its spring Residential Orientation for new students last week, and forty two new students enrolled at Saybrook for the Spring Semester, coming from California, Canada, Switzerland, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, New York, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, and other points across the globe. 

They come to Saybrook with experience at a variety of schools, including Seton Hall, Kent State, Mills College, St. John’s University, Naropa, the Bangalore Theological Seminary, San Diego State, UC Berkeley, Syracuse Unviersity, and more. 

The average age of the spring class is 40, befitting a graduate school most focused on established career professionals, and a slim majority – 22 – are pursuing PhDs. 

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Does that compute? Saybrook seeks community input on instructional technology


A school is defined by its people, yes: but at Saybrook, more than many schools, technology impacts how much access we have to our learning community, and how we can interact with it. 

That’s why Eric Fox, Saybrook’s new Dean of Instruction, is conducting a survey of faculty and students to find out how they use and relate to technology.  What do they want, what do they need, and what’s the best way to connect them to their peers?

“This survey is designed to give both faculty and students a voice in the use and selection of educational technologies at Saybrook,” Fox says, “and the results will inform an educational technology plan being developed.”

It will also outline current and future needs – giving Fox a heads up if there are needs not being met, or challenges appearing on the horizon. 

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How to pick a cabinet that's ethical AND effective


It stunned a lot of us:  no sooner had President Obama begun nominating people to fill his top posts, than stories of scandal began swarming around his choices.  No one, including some of the most respected names in contemporary American politics, seemed immune:  from tax problems to lobbying concerns, nominees began dropping out almost as fast as they took the call.

It was, many observers agreed, a profound indictment of a Washington culture that assumed perks and privilege come with power. 

But it also put President Obama in a bind:  on the one hand, he’d vowed an ethical and transparent administration.  On the other hand, the nation is facing big crises:  people with experience in government could be key to getting desperately needed work done. 

When it comes to making a choice between ethics and experience, how do you choose?  How important is it that the people making decisions pay their taxes properly, and how much does it matter if someone called upon to make fundamental change is a system is a product of the old, failed, culture?

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Mi casa su casa: Visit Saybrook's open house this week


Saybrook will be holding a spring open house for prospective students in its San Francisco offices on Thursday, March 12, from 5:30 - 8 p.m.

Accessible in person, by webcast and teleconference, the open house will feature presentations on:

  •  Saybrook. LIOS, and the new University structure;
  • Academics at Saybrook, including our humanistic tradition and our model of community-based distance learning;
  • Overviews of our degree programs (psychology, mind-body medicine, organizational systems, and human science)
  • Financial aid

In addition, there will be break out sessions on specializations and concentrations.  Snacks will also be served, and the admissions staff will be available to answer questions. 

For more information, or to register, email   

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There is no substitute for solitude. Is it gone for good?


Meister Eckhardt, the 13th century mystic, once said “There is nothing so near God as silence.”  But he never had to deal with somebody text messaging in church.

Technology has not only improved our ability to communicate with one another:  it’s allowed us to communicate at all times, wherever we are.  The result, for many people, is a cacophony of personal connections that never stop.  We’re never out of touch. 

Now, for the first time in human history, a whole generation is coming of age having never had to be away from their friends;  for whom the very idea of being “alone” is alien. 

A recent essay in the Boston Globe’s Sunday Magazine put the issue in stark terms.  The “never off” nature of communications technology “is dulling our very capacity to ever be alone, or alone in our thoughts … we're seeing this capacity weakened, whether we're in public places known for contemplation, like churches and libraries, or whether we're just sitting by ourselves at home, losing the fight to resist answering our BlackBerries (just ask our new president) or checking our laptops for Facebook updates.”

Writer Neil Swidley says there is now a gripping terror of being alone among many people who have never had the experience of solitude, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if they did.  “This is particularly true among young people,” he writes, “mainly because they don't know life when it wasn't like this.”

Is that true?  Saybrook psychology faculty Eugene Taylor says yes – up to a point. 

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Leading political ethicist to offer internships to Saybrook students


Students join Saybrook’s Social Transformation Concentration because they want to make a difference in the world:  now Saybrook can offer them an opportunity to help reform government while they study. 

This month Saybrook, the global leader in humanistic education and thought, has announced an agreement with Public Citizen, one of America’s leading consumer advocacy organizations.

Dr. Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s Legislative Representative and an ethics consultant for the Obama Administration, has agreed to take on interns from Saybrook for his office.

“I research and manage issues in lobbying, campaign finance, and government ethics, so an intern for me would do work in these areas,” Holman said.  “That sort of research invariably is used to make policy recommendations. Hopefully, we’ll have Saybrook students helping improve our understanding of these issues in a way that will impact the way government operates.”

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Saybrook announces agreement with TRANSCEND Peace University


Saybrook students now have the opportunity to learn with some of the world’s leading scholar-practitioners in peace and development. 

In an agreement signed February 3, Saybrook will incorporate into its Social Transformation Concentration curriculum two online courses developed for TRANSCEND Peace University (TPU). Based in Austria, TPU  draws faculty from among the leading peace scholars and practitioners in their fields internationally. It is the educational arm of the TRANSCEND Network –connecting 350 individuals and institutions from 80 countries working to reduce structural violence through action, education, dissemination, and research. The two courses, which will be available to all Saybrook students, are  Peaceful Conflict Transformation – the Transcend Method, taught by Drs. Johan Galtung and Sara Horowitz, and The Human Right to Adequate Food, taught by Dr. George Kent.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for Saybrook students to explore the cutting edge of conflict transformation and global social justice issues with stellar faculty who have world-wide reputations in their areas of expertise,” said Joel Federman, who directs Saybrook’s Social Transformation Concentration.

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The tragedy of war could put Obama's agenda at risk


If those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it, then America really needs to crack the books, according to Marc Pilisuk. 

As a new, hopeful chapter in American history dawns, the Saybrook psychology faculty member is warning that the mistakes we’ve made before will be no less disastrous if we make them a second time around. 

The last American president who promised to fundamentally change American society was Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ).  The Great Society, the War on Poverty, the civil rights movement:  his progressive agenda stretched from top to bottom and promised to fundamentally reinvent America to be more just, equitable, and prosperous.

Both the national unity and the money needed to make this a reality disappeared in the jungles of the war in Asia. 

“LBJ had big dreams.  Big plans.  It was all sacrificed to the war,” Pilisuk remembers.  “Lyndon Johnson, who could have been a great president, walked out in shame.”

Last week President Obama ordered 20,000 more troops to go to Afghanistan, giving Pilisuk a sense of déjà vu.  
In 2009 Pilisuk worries, Obama could be headed down the same bleak road, sacrificing a promising, desperately needed, progressive agenda to a war that he didn’t start but is expected to finish. 

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Learn to life coach, and make changes that last


One of the basic tenants of Mind-Body Medicine is that doctors can’t do it all:  people get healthier if they take an active role in their own health.

For many people, that means seeing a Mind-Body specialist, but many others are looking to life coaches to help them make lasting lifestyle changes. 

“With health care costs spiraling out of control and a rapidly deteriorating level of public health the need for wellness coaching has grown dramatically in recent years,” said Saybrook psychology alumna and professional life coach Dr. Lisa Mastain.  “Corporations, hospitals, treatment centers, health clubs, and independent consumers are seeing the benefits of investing in health and wellness coaching.”

Now Mastain, in collaboration with Saybrook’s Integrative Health Studies program, has developed a class for Saybrook students on life coaching for health and wellness (IHS 4110: Health and Wellness Coaching).  It will also be offered as part of Saybrook’s new degree in Mind-Body Medicine.

A crucial insight in life coaching, as in Mind-Body Medicine, Mastain said, is that “better health information is not enough.”  People need help making that information meaningful to them, and then acting on it.  Life coaching can be one of the most effective ways that someone can make and maintain lasting lifestyle changes. 

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Alumni Support Saybrook's Golden Heritage


by George Aiken

For the Saybrook Alumni Association, supporting Saybrook’s long standing tradition of humanistic thought and education is of primary importance. We believe that our humanistic roots are critical to Saybrook’s role as a viable, important, and necessary educational institution in the world today.

Over the past year, we have worked to create new ways to support Saybrook’s educational ideals through several venues, including:  the Quarterly Alumni Newsletter the HOMEPAGE, which features the accomplishments of faculty and alumni in the hope that the wider Saybrook community will be encouraged to continue the traditions that fostered these successes; the monthly, alumni, HOMEPAGE UPDATE lists current scholarly and vocational opportunities, and announces events relevant to the continued education of our alumni; the newly revised alumni blog, Provocative Discourse, where alumni can discuss issues relevant to their own life and work, and the health and well being of Saybrook and its ideals; and finally, a new alumni webcast, The Alumni Community Gathering: Keeping Up with Saybrook, A Monthly Informational Forum, where alumni discuss topics relevant to their careers and to Saybrook’s mission. It is the Alumni Association’s hope that these efforts will contribute in some small way to a long and healthy future at Saybrook.

These new approaches for keeping the alumni community connected have been successful because alumni are passionate about the traditions and heritage that have transformed their personal and professional lives. Saybrook alumni hope to see these traditions continue to enrich the lives of students, alumni, and the community at large for many years to come. 

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