Fielding Graduate University Students, Faculty, and Alumni to Gather in Alexandria, VA for the Annual All School Summer Session
Alumna Judy Zeidel, PhD, (HOD '11) shares about her Alumni Track Session titled "Living Dialectics."
To enrich the students’ educational experience, many of Fielding's programs hold events throughout the year in different regional locations. It is with great anticipation and excitement that the Fielding community prepares to gather next month for the All Schools Summer National Session at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, VA. At national sessions, the Fielding community gathers for a week of learning and community-building activities. These gatherings include workshops; seminars; meetings with mentors; and student-led events geared toward research and writing, practical applications of scholarly work, personal growth, and social action. Students also meet with their dissertation committees, and make or observe final dissertation presentations. Guest speakers, alumni presentations, and community celebrations add to the excitement of national session. The culminating event is graduation.
This session is an important community gathering for Fielding alumni to network and reconnect, and to participate academically. The Alumni Track was designed by the Alumni Council in collaboration with the university’s Office of Advancement and Development to broaden advanced learning, collaboration, and success for Fielding alumni scholars and practitioners, and provide the opportunity to reconnect with the Fielding community face-to-face.
One of the alumni track sessions offered in July provides an excellent example of how Fielding community members excel at collaboration. Alumna Judy Zeidel, PhD, (HOD '11), along with current Human & Organizational Development (HOD) student Susan Herrmann, LCSW, are co-presenting at an Alumni Track session titled "Living Dialectics." Zeidel created a theory of society’s complicity in child abuse, based upon an ecofeminist explanation of the Logic of Domination. Integral to her theory is the use of personal and social dialectics. Herrmann is a clinical social worker who works with perpetrators, victims, and survivors of abuse.
Zeidel recently wrote an article describing the journey and intention for her Alumni Track presentation with Herrmann titled "Living Dialectics:"
Many of us came to Fielding because we wanted to change the world. We had visions of such things as better organizations, better educational systems, and better human interactions. What some of us learned–particularly those of us in the Transformative Learning for Social Justice concentration (School of Human & Organizational Development) –is that a necessary precursor to social transformation is personal transformation.
It isn’t that we must transform ourselves because we are flawed, but we must transform ourselves so that we may recognize and overcome our self-imposed limitations and the limitations created by unjust social systems.
But how is this accomplished and how do we continue to do this after we’ve graduated? It takes an understanding of the processes of personal journeys, of relational dialogues, and of social critique and action. It also takes a commitment to remain on the path of personal and social transformation. This means remaining open to exploring our stories and continuing to challenge the interpretations of these stories. The “Living Dialectics” offers a guide for personal transformation, dialogical activism, and social justice outcomes.
As human development scholar practitioners, it is vital that we each continually work on our own issues, doing our best to remain in an aware state, lest we project our issues onto others and use them, unwittingly, to re-enact our past dramas and traumas. Furthermore, with the use of Barnett Pearce’s LUUUUTT Model, we can also become aware of the power of stories Unknown, Untold, Untellable, and Unheard, juxtaposed with the stories Lived, the stories Told, and the manner of the story Telling. Without this awareness, and an understanding of the power of the generational waves of abuse, those on the journey to healing may unthinkingly re-traumatize their students, their clients, their patients, their significant others, or their children.
In explaining my own journey, I have begun to articulate a path of how stories might unfold and be received. The purpose of this was to explicate the ways that conversations can move from the re-telling of personal stories of abuse to enactments of dialogical activism. At Winter Session, 2013, Susan and I performed a re-creation of such a conversation. What came out of our preparation for that presentation was a theory Susan named, “Living Dialectics.”
“Living Dialectics” begins with acknowledging one’s own lived taboo story. Taboo stories are those that are not spoken about in casual or “polite” conversation. The phrase “stories of abuse,” too often evoke thoughts of narrow, theatric, or archetypal narratives–there must be a victim and a villain, and likely a plot involving innocence and guilt, rescue and punishment. Lived stories of abuse are much more complex. The phrase “taboo stories” seems to hold room for that complexity.
Key to moving from recounting one’s story to dialogic activism is the recognition that in your story I hear my story, and in my story I feel your story. Together we name the world not as we were told to, but as we have known it. As we lift the veils from our family narratives, veils also fall away from the social narratives that surround us. “Living Dialectics” means questioning one’s truths, and questioning the truths of one’s society. It also means learning to live with and exploring the larger contradictions in life. “Living Dialectics” reveals the interweaving nature of personal dialectics that arise from an individual’s conscious path with the social dialectics that arise from relational paths of social systems. This Summer Session we are holding a space to introduce you to “Living Dialectics” and to engage in some dialogic activism. The shape of this session depends entirely on who shows up.