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Religious & Spiritual Life

Soul and Role

Soul and Role Dialogues in Higher Education: Healing the Divided Self

Snow on a DU statue        A group of faculty and staff gather in a conference room in the student union to share experiences with the soul/role divide at work and in the classroom. They sit around a table of natural wood with inlaid geometric patterns made from an eclectic assortment of colorful woods. The walls of the room are painted in earth tones and adorned with large-scale photographs of mountains. The meeting begins with a reminder of the groups conversational norms that invite deep reflection and a safe place for the soul. The facilitator reviews the topic for the meeting by telling a brief personal story relevant to the theme. A poem, with accompanying journal prompts, is distributed and read out loud. Several minutes of silence follow as each participant underlines words, circles passages, or writes margin notes on the poem, as everyone moves into a familiar and comfortable sense of being present with each other. The facilitator opens with a question inviting participants to share stories of personal meaning emerging from the poem. For the next hour the discussion moves back and forth between the poem, shared examples of personal meaning, and increased understanding of the depth and productive power of the soul/role divide in higher education. The purpose of the meeting is exploring the deep heart-felt and heart-broken nature of work in academia, developing a sense of the shared journey, and examining ways of working productively in the tension between soul and role in higher education. (This is the opening paragraph of an article on Soul & Role at DU, co-written by Paul Michalec and Gary Brower. The full article can be accessed below.)

Paul Michalec (Clinical Professor Curriculum Studies and Teaching at Morgridge College of Education) and Gary Brower (University Chaplain) will co-lead the discussions.

You are invited to join in the conversation!  It is fulfilling. It is sustaining.  If you have any questions, please contact Gary Brower by email, or at 303-871-4488.

Upcoming programs

For the Fall of 2018, Soul and Role Dialogues will use these prompts:

September 21 -- The prompts for September's meeting can be retrieved here.

October 19 -- The prompts for October's meeting can be retrieved here.

November 16 -- The prompts for November's meeting can be retrieved here.

2016-2017 Programs

For the academic year 2016-2017, Soul and Role Dialogues used these prompts:

September 15 -- The prompts for September's meeting can be retrieved here.

October 20 -- The prompts for October's meeting can be retrieved here.

November 17 -- The prompts for November's meeting can be retrieved here.

January 19 -- The prompts for January's meeting can be retrieved here

February 16 -- The prompts for February's meeting can be retrieved here.

March 16 -- The prompts for March's meeting will be found here

April 20 -- The prompts for April's meeting will be found here

May 18 -- The prompts for May's meeting will be found here


A copy of the article co-written by Paul Michalec and Gary Brower based on the Soul and Role experience at DU can be retrieved here.

Some of the poems and journal/discussion prompts used in prior Soul and Role discussions are available below:

About the facilitators

Dr. Paul Michalec is a Clinical Professor in the Morgridge College of Education. He has over 30 years of teaching experience in K-6, higher education, and alternative education settings. He is a nationally trained Courage to Teach facilitator hosting retreats for K-12 educators designed to renew their inner calling to teach. His research and teaching interests include: teacher formation, the spiritual dimensions of teaching/learning, effective instruction, history of education, philosophical traditions, and mentoring/supervision.

Chaplain Gary Brower's bio can be found here.