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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Inspiriting the academy : weaving stories and practices of living women's spirituality Jordan, Nané Ariadne

Abstract

This doctoral dissertation represents a qualitative inquiry into the lived experiences and practices of seven faculty and student alumni, the author included, within an accredited Women’s Spirituality Master of Arts (WSMA) degree program, located in the San Francisco Bay area. This graduate course of study originates from the grassroots North American women’s movement, and prepares women for leadership in the pluralistic global culture of the 21st Century. The woman-centred curriculum re-claims women’s history, pre-history, spiritual experience, social contributions and creative expressions by integrating scholarly research, feminist perspectives and analysis, goddesses, activism, ritual, spiritual practices, and the arts. Through individual and collective processes of self-inquiry, healing and transformation, faculty and students contribute to new knowledge and social practices that can holistically address local and global challenges of gender, social and ecological justice. This dissertation artfully illuminates intersections of spirituality and feminism in education that remain little known or understood. The study responds to calls made by North American scholars for inspiriting the academy by attending to the spiritual dimensions of human experience. The author posits the WSMA as being an exemplar of innovations of spirituality in higher education. Stories and practices woven into this dissertation document, communicate, and commune-with, faculty and students’ experiences of self- formation and authorization, search for meaning and understanding, gender, social, and ecological justice work, and the relational embodiment of spirit- and heart- centred learning and renewal. Throughout this text, the author navigates the complexity of her ongoing path as a scholar who claims Women’s Spirituality as a site of learning and research. Stories and practices are woven through the life-based, artistic material metaphor and gesture of “red thread” into themes of “Beginnings,” “Gifts,” and “New Philosophies.” The author engages narrative, auto/biographic, and arts-based research methodologies through life writing and oral history stories, her mixed-media textiles and performance art practice, and the research persona of the philosopher-midwife, drawn from her working background in lay midwifery of being with-woman. She weaves, performs, translates and transmits co-participants’ stories and practices of living Women’s Spirituality, and that of herself, as being the central bodies/body of this research text.

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