Transformative learning refers to a learning process that goes beyond the mere acquisition of factual information and focuses on the transformation of the learner in some meaningful way through fundamental changes in perspective. The literature on transformative learning from an Asian perspective usually covers realms of knowledge acquisition involving deep introspection, contemplation, and reflection – most often approached as a form of meditation. Over these past decades attempts have been made to link Western science, more specifically the principles of Quantum physics, to traditional Asian practices that facilitate transformative experiences. This newer paradigm of energy flow has come to be known as bioenergetics. This paper presents the results of adopting a transformative approach to teaching a university course in the discipline of Asian Studies, entitled Interdisciplinary Study of Asia, which encompassed a broad inter-disciplinary representation of the social sciences, including economics, sociology, anthropology, health and education. Moreover, to this transformative perspective a strong link was made to bioenergetics and the potential of subtle energy to address fundamental issues in various Asian national settings, such as heightened awareness of the environment, greater sense of connection to the global community, holistic understanding of empowerment, and deeper appreciation of positive emotions to learning. This paper shares useful information on the instructional processes that guided the course, student reflections on course content and its mode of delivery, and qualitative feedback from students in the form of research essays and course evaluations. The interpretation of the impact of integrating a transformative dimension to a formal university course on development issues is discussed, focusing on practical instructional approaches to promote heightened student awareness, a greater sense of connection to the human factor behind an interdisciplinary approach to study Asia, and the validation of intuitive thinking and reflective development in addressing these issues proactively.
|Keywords:||Transformative Learning, Bioenergetics, Asian Studies|
Professor, Asian Studies/Centre for Spirituality and the Workplace, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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