Date of Completion

Spring 5-26-2015

Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter J. Taylor

Second Advisor

Jeremy Szteiter


My synthesis is a sharing of my journey, the accomplishments, struggles and practices essential to embracing courage from a different space of intention, from a space of supporting others, while I continue to journey myself. But it’s also a journey of tensions scaffold by walls built long ago that kept my tree from joining a collaborative forest. Through the repetitive process of revisiting, letting gestate, and revising my personal narrative, written papers, professional workbooks and daily writing practice, I share how the Science in a Changing World (SICW) program has manifest in my workplace and a growth of courage to practice. The inclusion of contextual personal narratives I’ve shared help demonstrate the complexity of how important process is as the structural roots of our learning, ever working to slowly reveal and shape new awareness much like how stories are working on us all the time, reshaping us in the way that flowing water gradually reshapes a rock. I believe story is the connective tissue that builds empathy and support for risk-taking rather than a weakness lacking academic or scientific rigor.

More importantly, what I’ve come to understand is that just because a story defined me at one time in my life, it doesn’t necessarily define me now. Much like a child who speaks later than expected developmental models, I too am finding my voice, my way of finding clarity, through a combination of creative modalities developed asynchronously yet in concert with each other. I share how experiences I once saw as broken limbs on my tree are now gifts in my own personal development. In tree physiology, these wounds compartmentalize rather than heal; they are always part of the tree, but hidden from surface awareness as calluses grow to cover scars. Only later in the life of the tree may these wounds become apparent again when the tree is stressed by wind.

I invite the reader to see extended strands of the braid connected to their own life experiences by paying attention to what resonates or brings up tension for you, noticing the beginning of possible meta-awareness; to make conscious the story just beneath the surface of our talk and invite us to speak it. My synthesis helps readers to connect with an awareness that:

• Story has power to shape our thinking, beliefs and behaviors and that our beliefs can grow but are always connected with the deeper layers of our narratives

• Dreams and burdens are essential to the beauty of the journey

• Courage and empowerment are grown through practice and community

• Co-creative spaces of supportive non-judgment allow for risktaking as a serious practice of learning and growth

• Others need scaffolding to support their own growth and practice that might be similar or different than our own

• Transparency of intentions may help build community despite tensions of differences.

Through my research, I’ve come to appreciate that my original inquiry is deeply rooted in my quest to understand my own connection with nature in the context of my life purpose and work. And I have been and continue to be on a journey framed in working to support exploration and change at the individual level of awareness rather than the bigger scale of the environmental movement. Yet I’ve also come to understand that the power of change is held within me and that supporting myself in this environment will translate into supporting others. My capstone synthesis is focused, therefore, on my development as a leader/mentor of people I work with while also honoring my personal development as a reflective practitioner.