Creating Inner and Outer Sacred Space: An Adult Learner Program’s Wholistic Approach to Supporting Low-Income Women Who Have Been Impacted by Violence

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter Taylor


At our Adult Learner Program, we have identified that women who have experienced violence need various supports in order to effectively learn upon their reentry to school. Using three broad definitions of violence, I have investigated the impact of violence on low-income women’s learning at our literacy program. We have found that if our program supports transformation of the inner and outer sacred space of a woman, then she can gain the qualities she needs to learn throughout her time at our program, but for lifelong learning. “Sacred” in the sense used here denotes something worthy of respect. This paper documents the curricula, activities, and transformation of the sacred space that our Adult Learner Program has given attention to, especially during the past five years. Our curricula include activities that acknowledge that the essence of a human being is comprised of four inseparable aspects: the mind, body, spirit, and emotions. Using the First Nations’ medicine wheel, we have developed lessons that “bring the whole person to learning (Horsman, 2000).” The curricula also focus on empowering learners through cultivating a greater sense of self (understanding the interconnectedness between the four aspects of the person) and developing a sense of place (establishing the self with a supportive community). We explored ways to construct a sacred learning environment for the women in the program. By catering to all the senses in the classroom, we wanted to create an environment, which we felt our learners were worthy to be in. We took on the challenge to transform a sacred space that reflected the value we knew our students possessed.


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