1st Edition

The Theory of Being Practices for Transforming Self and Communities Across Difference

    247 Pages
    by Routledge

    247 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book presents a state-of-the-art, robust, and adaptable process, the Theory of Being, that offers strategies for working across Difference, and for embarking on constructive dialogue around the issues that drive us apart, both individually and collectively. Whether around racial, gender, and/or social class inequity, core beliefs, uses of power or other points of cultural conflict, this book offers a research-validated approach, developed and refined over twenty years, to engage in difficult dialogues. The Theory of Being includes personal, relational, and community practices that support individuals and communities to better work through the difficult dialogues necessary to transform systems of structural inequity. It describes and offers applications of Being to help the reader understand and apply principles and practices that invite openness to controversy through facilitating deep reflection and shifting the focus of conflict from individuals to centering the issue of contention as a Third Thing about which participants can more safely express experiences and emotions.Via cases and narratives, the editors and contributors demonstrate how, through productively situating feelings of vulnerability and anger, individuals, organizations, and communities can work together to continuously evolve responsive, inclusive, and equitable practices that value social and cultural differences. This book focuses on strategies for the “how” we interact, demonstrating an orientation to process rather than prioritizing outcomes. A process-orientation can increase the quality of interaction between individuals, and the likelihood of traversing problems associated with controversial social difference in ways that result in sustainable strategies to disrupt systems of oppression. A range of applications exemplify this approach throughout the text.The primary audience is higher education leaders and leaders-in-training including student affairs professional staff, campus administrators, higher education and student affairs faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students. However, the approach has broad implications for any persons who want to productively engage across Difference in their personal and/or professional lives.

    List of FiguresList of TablesForeword—Parker J. Palmer Preface PART ONE. Introducing the Theory of Being Part One Introduction —Sherry K. Watt 1. Being with Paradox and Possibility. The Origins of The Theory of Being—Sherry K. Watt2. Living into The Theory of Being. A Process-Oriented Research Approach—Chris R. Patterson, Duhita Mahatmya, and Multicultural Initiatives Consortium PART TWO. Introduction to Personal Ways of Being Part Two Introduction —Sherry K. Watt 3. Empathy—Chris R. Patterson 4. Shame—Audrey Scranton 5. Silence—Charles R. Martin-Stanley II PART THREE. Introduction to Relational Ways of Being Part Three Introduction —Sherry K. Watt 6. Interpersonal Communication—Audrey Scranton, Aralia Ramirez, and Brian Lackman 7. Resistance—Steve Malvaso and Kira Pasquesi 8. Boundaries—Milad Mohebali and Janice A. Byrd PART FOUR. Introduction to Community Ways of Being Part Four Introduction —Sherry K. Watt 9. Truth—DaVida L. Anderson 10. Otherness—Duhita Mahatmya and Saba Rasheed Ali 11. Research—Kari E. Weaver and Amanda L. Mollet Epilogue—Gordon Louie Appendices

    1. The Theory of Being Brief
    2. Being Touchstones
    3. The Practice of Third Thinging
    4. The Practice of Asking Open and Honest Questions
    5. Privileged Identity Exploration (PIE. Model
    6. Supplementary Applications
    Editors and Contributors Index


    Sherry K. Watt, Ph.D., NCC, LPC is a professor in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program the University of Iowa. She is also the co-creator of the Multicultural Initiatives (MCI) Research Team. Prior to becoming a faculty member, she worked as a residence life director and a career counselor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina State University, and Shaw University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from University of North Carolina at Greensboro and masters and doctoral degrees in Counselor Education, with an emphasis in student affairs, from North Carolina State University. She is also founder of The Being Institute (thebeinginstitute.org). Sherry is a facilitator prepared by the Center for Courage and Renewal. She is the editor of Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications, and Facilitator Considerations (Stylus, 2015). She has over 25 years of experience in designing and leading educational experiences that involve strategies to engage participants in dialogue that is meaningful, passionate, and self-awakening. Duhita Mahatmya, Ph.D. is an Associate Research Scientist in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. As a research methodologist for the college, Dr. Mahatmya provides conceptual and analytical support to projects that examine equity issues in K-12 and higher education. Currently, she works with interdisciplinary teams to understand the role of informal learning environments and school-based interventions on academic and psychosocial outcomes of students from historically excluded communities. Her own research interests broadly focus on examining how family, school, and community environments shape the attainment of developmental milestones from early childhood to young adulthood. She has been a part of the Multicultural Initiatives Research team since 2016. Milad Mohebali (he/his) is a Doctoral Candidate in Edu

    From the Foreword:

    "The dialogue process described in this book is rooted in real-life experience and sound theory, tested and proven in practice, and illustrated with compelling stories. It’s a process that works for individuals and groups, one that can help us find our way through the complex, conflicted, and high-stakes era in which we live and emerge more unified on the other side.

    If you have been holding the question of how to conduct ‘constructive dialogue around the issues that drive us apart, both individually and collectively,’ now you are also holding a treasure trove of answers in your hands. We have much to learn from Sherry K. Watt and her colleagues, and much to learn from the great diversity of folks with whom we can walk while never losing sight of our shared ‘human being.’”

    Parker J. Palmer, Founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center of Courage and Renewal

    "An important and innovative book that should be part of personal libraries, especially for those seeking new ways to work across difference via conversations hoping for self and institutional/community transformation. The 'Theory of Being' approach is oriented to a long-term process and practice design rather than the outcome-based models of more traditional dialogue efforts. The Theory of Being makes a significant contribution to the practice addressing difficult dialogue work."

    Nancy "Rusty" Barcelo, PhD, Equity and Diversity Consultant

    "What a wildly timely book. The concepts and personal narrative contained within these pages are like signposts for the fog of reckoning--racial, gender, class, climate--we are all in. I know I will return to it again and again as I continue to deepen my relationships within various communities that I hold dear, none of which are simple, all of which are quite beautiful and sacred to me."

    Courtney E. Martin, author of Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from my Daughter's School