Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Listening, Learning, and Resilience: Supporting the Productive Engagement of Diverse Perspectives on Social-Ecological Issues through Suspension and Mindfulness
by Mason, Jennifer, Ph.D., Prescott College, 2018, 263; 13423949
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation research was conducted to explore means to better enable listening, learning, and collaboration among those who think differently. Working to understand and address complex social-ecological challenges requires the engagement of stakeholders who experience and think about the issues differently; however, listening to, and productively interacting with those who have diverse perspectives can be profoundly difficult. When our views are challenged, self-protective responses block the flow of information, and inhibit learning and collaboration. Using a participatory methodology called cooperative inquiry, this study was initiated to investigate the role of mindfulness in supporting David Bohm’s notion of suspension in multi-stakeholder dialogue about a contentious social-ecological issue; to discover the challenges and opportunities associated with bringing a mindful approach to suspension to those who are new to it; and to examine the relationship between a mindful approach to suspension and learning. Mindfulness practice was found to be useful in supporting various aspects of suspension and self-compassion played an unexpected role in several of the steps of the process. One of the central contributions of this study is the articulation of linked steps or aspects of the mindful approach to suspension that offers a practice pathway for listening to those who think differently. This research could have use for individuals and groups of all kinds in situations where diverse perspectives are encountered. As a means to build the capacity to notice and manage internal responses in the face of different ways of seeing and understanding phenomena, and allow for critical reflection, a mindful approach to suspension has value in supporting learning at both the individual and collective levels. Participants experienced several transformative benefits from this project including an increased willingness and improved ability to engage with those who think differently. In the current climate of political divisiveness and intolerance, this has clear value. From a resilience perspective, the willingness and ability to engage with those who have different views has potential in terms of enabling tight feedbacks within a system, which builds general resilience and/or transformability and supports sustainability.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Caniglia, Noël Cox
Commitee: Gelinas, Mary, Gunnlaugson, Olen, Southern, Nancy
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 80/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Communication, Education
Keywords: Dialogue, Mindfulness, Resilience, Suspension, Sustainability, Transformative learning
Publication Number: 13423949
ISBN: 9780438764378
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