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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The role of the body in leading and learning: A case study of a somatic leadership development program
by Bennett, Carmela Celeste, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2012, 282; 3508571
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this case study was to better understand the ways that learning through the body impacts leaders/participants' understanding of both leadership and leadership practice. Although the academic discourse on the need to incorporate whole person/multiple ways of knowing and learning into adult learning and leadership is increasing, the literature and research has yet to explore the ways somatic learning and pedagogy facilitates adult learning and leadership development.

A qualitative research approach was used to explore the perceptions and experiences of 15 leaders from a variety of industries. Purposeful sampling was used to select participants who had completed the Strozzi Institute's somatic leadership development program within one year of the study. A focus group of participants who had completed the same program two or more years prior to this study was conducted to triangulate the data and confirm the findings.

Literature from authentic and transformational leadership theory, whole person adult learning, and selected literature on somatic learning was utilized to create the conceptual framework. Heron's (1992) epistemological "theory of personhood" grounded in the assumption that bodily experiences are a valid source of knowing was used as theoretical scaffolding.

The research reveals that leaders perceived that engaging in somatic learning processes and practices enhanced their understanding of the body as a source of knowing largely through its capacity to increase self-awareness, significantly influence their ability to become better aligned with their individual leadership vision, and positively impact their leadership practice. More specifically, their communication skills, relationship-building capacity, and ability to manage emotions and conflict resolution were impacted. The researcher posits that these findings suggest somatic learning and pedagogy be considered as a fundamental, rather than adjunctive, source of knowing and learning. Recommendations focus on increasing the quality and quantity of somatic learning practices within adult learning and leadership development contexts, particularly within those focused on whole-person self-development

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yorks, Lyle
Commitee: Miller, Lisa
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
Department: Organization and Leadership
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pedagogy, Adult education
Keywords: Authentic leadership, Leadership development, Mind-body learning, Somatic learning, Transformative leadership, Whole person learning
Publication Number: 3508571
ISBN: 978-1-267-34309-3
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