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Integral Education

New Directions for Higher Learning

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Jonathan Reams, Olen Gunnlaugson

Publication Year: 2010

Leading researchers and practitioners explore the frontiers of education from an integral perspective. The educational challenges being faced today are driving us toward a new step in the evolution of educational theory and practice. Educators are called to go beyond simply presenting alternatives, to integrating the best of mainstream and alternative approaches and taking them to the next level. Integral Education accomplishes this by bringing together leading researchers and practitioners from higher education who are actively exploring the frontiers of education from an integral perspective. It presents an overview of the emerging landscape of integral education from a variety of theoretical and applied perspectives. Key characteristics of integral education include: exploring multiple perspectives, employing different pedagogical techniques (e.g., reflective, dialogical, empirical), combining conceptual rigor with embodied experience, drawing on developmental psychology, and cultivating a reflective and transformative space for students and teachers alike. Integral Education provides the most comprehensive synopsis of this exciting new approach and serves as a valuable resource for any integral effort within education.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Integral Theory


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pp. v-vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

When the idea for this book first materialized three years ago in conversations between us, there was a recognition that this book was waiting to be written. The rich and increasingly diverse interpretations of integral education needed to be gathered and woven together as a way of strengthening this field in the making. By calling upon the visionary and trail making roles of our colleagues, our ...

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The Emergence and Characteristics of Integral Education: An Introduction

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pp. 1-16

It is mid-morning in a college classroom with a view of the surrounding hills reflecting soft light into the otherwise stark room. The professor is aiming to help his students find their way through the various theories they have been exposed to over the last four weeks of this course. One young woman raises her hand ...

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Western-Islamic and Native American Genealogies of Integral Education

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pp. 17-33

What apt meanings or identifications can be given to integral education?1 To address this question one might imagine a dimension of semantic possibilities ranging from the contracted to the expansive. The former might involve (i) restriction to integrative notions arising from the lineage of one author such as Aurobindo or Wilber; (ii) restriction to explicit usage of the term integral itself—thus for instance ...

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Elements of the Underacknowledged History of Integral Education

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pp. 35-46

This chapter seeks to facilitate adequate breadth and depth in integral education theorizing through identifying hitherto underacknowledged yet pertinent historical streams (focusing on mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries) which have explicitly embraced the term integral education. Emphasising leading protagonists, prioritization will be given to socialist and Catholic integral education streams, with additional mention of the (perhaps more familiar) Aurobindean and Gebserian ...

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The Complete Yoga: The Lineage of Integral Education

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pp. 47-54

The word “integral” has entered the vocabulary of higher education. It has no single definition, admitting of a myriad of meanings and understandings in practice. But many in the West respond to the word nearly instinctively, as if it provides a resonance of possibility that is lacking in contemporary experience, not only in the educational realm. For the purposes of this chapter, I will use the meaning of ...

II. Distinct Approaches

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pp. 55

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Integral Theory in Service of Enacting Integral Education: Illustrations from an Online Graduate Program1

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pp. 57-77

Both mainstream and holistic approaches toward education have much to recommend. Thus, it is unfortunate that proponents of alternative education all too often pit themselves against traditional education. As a result, they often overlook the strengths of traditional models and fail to see their own holistic blind spots. ...

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Integral Transformative Education: A Participatory Proposal

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pp. 79-103

Our main intention in this chapter is to introduce a participatory approach to integral transformative education in which all human dimensions—body, vital, heart, mind, and consciousness—are invited to cocreatively participate in the unfolding of learning and inquiry. After some preliminary considerations about the basic elements of an integral curriculum and the “horizontal” and “vertical” dimensions of integral education, the first part of the chapter situates our ...

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A “Developmental Action Inquiry” Approach To Teaching First-, Second-, and Third-Person Action Research Methods

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pp. 105-126

In this chapter, we suggest that it is only through action and inquiry processes such as those enacted by Developmental Action Inquiry (DAI) (Torbert, 1976, 1987, 1991; Torbert & Associates, 2004) that education, work, and leisure actually become mutually transforming and thus truly integral. In support of this assertion, the introductory section offers, first, brief descriptions of three integral qualities of DAI not focused on by other developmental approaches (e.g., Kegan, 1994; Wilber 2000). ...

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Teaching Integratively: Five Dimensions of Transformation

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pp. 127-148

I teach to transform myself, others, and the world, and to realize I cannot change things. Many educators face related paradoxes. The word comes from the Greek para- for “beyond” and dokein for “to think”—literally “beyond thinking.” On one hand, for example, learners struggle with written grammar. But they also struggle to express themselves deeply, a skill which often requires deliberately ignoring errors and the internal critic. ...

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Encountering the (W)hole: Integral Education as Deep Dialogue and Cultural Medicine

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pp. 149-165

The crisis of our times, as we see it, is at root a failure of the human imagination and chronically entrenched hermeneutical patterns. Progressive educators feel the current call to relevance in their practice, to claim in the classroom and curriculum the power of human communities to forge a better, more sustainable, and just world. Yet all too easily, the project of connection and integration glossed under ...

III. Case Studies

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pp. 167

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Jazz, Creativity, and Consciousness: A Blueprint for Integral Education

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pp. 169-184

In the Winter 2000 semester, I proposed a Bachelor of Fine Arts curriculum in Jazz and Contemplative Studies (BFAJCS) at The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. The curriculum was designed to combine a full slate of coursework in jazz and overall musical training with about 25 credits of coursework that included meditation and other contemplative practices and studies.1 It seemed like a perfect fit: Jazz’s improvisatory core brings the field into ...

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Grounding Integral Theory in the Field of Experience

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pp. 185-192

Inspired by the promise and potential of being able to make a difference that matters in a world full of suffering, Pacific Integral was born out of the commitment of four entrepreneurs to pursue a path of discovery. Pacific Integral is a privately run educational program for professionals interested in leadership development from a variety of backgrounds, focusing on applying integral theories as informed ...

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An Open Way of Being: Integral Reconceptualization of Mathematics for Teaching

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pp. 193-214

Mathematics for Teaching (MfT) is a burgeoning branch of math education research framed by the question, What mathematics do teachers need to know in order to teach mathematics? In this chapter, we offer a genealogy of the field by correlating the evolutions of the objective, subjective, interobjective, and intersubjective strands of MfT. In the process, we point to multiple evolutionary tensions, including stability ...

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Written in “Three Voices”A Turn Toward Integral Higher Education

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pp. 215-228

Scholarly academic writing has traditionally identified with standards of objectivity, logic, and rationality, aptly depicted by the white lab coat of the researcher. Most course syllabi and course assignments similarly affirm the perspective of the objective, rational, and analytical approach. And, student works are generally assessed on the basis of evidence from scholarly references, typically avoiding comments about personal points of view, biases, and ways of knowing. ...

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Integral Education, Integral Transformation,and the Teaching of Mind-Body Medicine

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pp. 229-244

Mind-Body Medicine offers a unique opportunity for transformative education in medicine and health. Through the use of Integral Theory, Mind-Body Medicine (MBM) has the potential to act as a lightning rod for personal transformation. In teaching Mind-Body Medicine in John F. Kennedy University’s Master of Arts in Holistic Health Education, Integral Theory facilitates the integration of conventional, post-conventional and integrative classroom approaches. This integration ...

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Matching Educational Intentions with Assessment: Using an Integral Map

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pp. 245-256

Looking more closely at what and how we assess is a critical component to consider when creating a class and building the container in which learning occurs. Assessment provides feedback to both those inside (teachers and students) and outside (parents, administrators, politicians, and the general public) about what is happening in the learning process. The importance of assessment is reflected ...

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Expanding Our Vision in the Teaching and Design of University Science—Coming to Know Our Students

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pp. 257-267

In this chapter I focus on two moments in a collaborative university action research project which aimed to improve teaching and learning within a physics faculty. I unravel some of the issues that lecturers grapple with: changing teaching cultures and beginnning a process of coming to know their students better. I juxtapose this with reflections on my own movement toward an integral/holistic teaching ...

IV. Looking Ahead

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pp. 269

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Integral Mind, Brain, and Education

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pp. 271-288

A recent survey of 200 educators in an international sample revealed that the majority believed that understanding how the brain works was important “in the design and delivery of educational programs for children and adults” (Pickering & Howard-Jones, 2007, p. 111). Most educators had heard about or used so-called “brain-based” education programs and generally found them useful. At the same ...

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Embodying Integral Education in Five Dimensions

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pp. 289-301

Reflecting on my experience as a student while immersed in a program feels like basking in a nutrient-rich prairie lake while tracing riparian edges of the landscape. Immediate experience is coupled with objective views, near and far. And as with any study of the natural environment, what is looked at, how it is seen, and who the seer is all contribute to the art and science of understanding the natural ...

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Opening Up the Path of Integral Education: Reflections on a Case Study in Changing from a Holistic to Integral College

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pp. 303-316

In the mid-nineties a small group of Scandinavian educators, social visionaries, and philanthropists gathered in rural Sweden with a provocative dream to develop an alternative college program in personal and global change studies. Inspired by social anthropologist Margaret Mead’s visionary insight that the coordinated actions of small groups of concerned citizens play a central role in changing the world, Holma College of Holistic Studies (HCHS) soon emerged. Convinced of the need ...

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Contemporary Integral Education Research: A Transnational and Transparadigmatic Overview

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pp. 317-330

This chapter is a tentative, condensed overview (with an appendix listing associations and programs with urls) of contemporary academic-level research and development within and on integral and likeminded educational approaches. Such an overview has to cope with serious tensions: between the requirement to give a global account across streams and schools of thought, the reality of an unbalanced geopolitics of ...

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Spirituality and Integral Thought in Higher Education

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pp. 331-343

JR: I would like to begin by thanking you for taking this time to reflect on your experience and share perspectives on some of the trends and forces that are moving higher education toward an integral approach. Your extensive history in researching higher education, especially around issues of spirituality will hopefully shed some new light in these areas. Could you begin with a brief overview of your research within HERI? ...

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Evolving Higher Education Integrally: Delicate Mandalic Theorizing

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pp. 345-361

This chapter provides a broad theoretical contribution to integral higher education by contextualising it within an evolution of consciousness narrative. Within this narrative there are three major discourses that identify and/or enact the emergence of new patterns of thinking and being: the adult developmental psychology discourse on postformal reasoning (Commons & Richards, 2002; Cook-Greuter, ...

Author Biographies

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pp. 363-368


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pp. 369-386

E-ISBN-13: 9781438433509
E-ISBN-10: 1438433506
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438433493
Print-ISBN-10: 1438433492

Page Count: 398
Illustrations: 22 tables, 6 figures
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1
Series Title: SUNY series in Integral Theory

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Educational change -- United States.
  • Education, Higher -- Aims and objectives -- United States.
  • Education, Higher -- United States -- Philosophy.
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