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The Spirituality and Health SIG submitted the following description of the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University as an example of how faculty from a variety of institutions and disciplines may come together with common interests with little expense to collaborate and discuss ideas that might result in productive projects. For a small amount of money to fund lunch, colleagues can brainstorm together as well as benefit from each other's expertise and wisdom. We hope that this article encourages others to consider how they could use this model to help enhance their research and practice through transdisciplinary and trans-institutional collaborations.
Karen Hye-cheon Kim, PhD
The Spirituality and Health Institute (SHI) at Santa Clara University:
The Spirituality and Health Institute (SHI) at Santa Clara University was developed in 2002 by SBM fellows Thomas Plante and Carl Thoresen to provide a forum for quality multidisciplinary and multi-site collaborative research and practice in the area of spirituality and health broadly defined. With a modest grant from the Santa Clara University Ignatian Center, a small group of faculty from Santa Clara, Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Graduate Theological Union joined several community professionals from the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose and Hospice of the Valley. Faculty represent a variety of academic disciplines including psychology, public health, religious studies, English, engineering, philosophy, among others. While some of the faculty and community professionals are actively engaged in their spiritual and religious traditions and practices that represent Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist and others, some are religiously unaffiliated. The group includes a number of SBM members in addition to Tom and Carl mentioned above such as Doug Oman, David Feldman, and Shauna Shapiro.
Grant money since 2002 has funded quarterly lunch meetings at the Santa Clara University faculty club. Collaborative projects and ideas are discussed without particular detailed agenda to allow freedom to follow the will and inspiration of the group. Interested members often collaborate in small subgroups and periodically bring in other professionals as desired for specific topics and projects. There are approximately 12 SHI members at any one time with guests from a variety of specialties also included as desired.
What is remarkable to me is that bringing thoughtful, motivated, talented, diverse, and interested people from multiple disciplines and institutions together with a common focus on spirituality and health research and practice can result in so many creative and productive projects with very little financial support. I jokingly refer to our numerous projects as being funded by "lunch money."
Recent projects have included hosting a spirituality and health pre conference event at Santa Clara University in association with the Society of Behavioral Medicine's national convention during March 2006. SBM members from across the country attending the San Francisco convention were bused to Santa Clara University (about an hour south from the convention site) for the pre conference day. Additionally, members of the SHI group presented a symposium at the American Psychological Association convention during the summer of 2007. Several of us will present at the APA convention in Boston this summer. The group also recently published an edited book in 2007 by Greenwood that was co-edited by Tom and Carl entitled, Spirit, Science, and Health: How the Spiritual Mind Fuels Physical Wellness. Finally, the group has published a large number of collaborative empirical research projects in recent years. These projects have focused on meditation practices and health outcomes, the development of and health benefits of compassion among other topics.
Our model and process could easily be incorporated at other university settings. All that is needed are motivated, interested, and diverse professionals who are focused on spirituality and health research and practice fueled by a little bit of lunch money.
Those interested in further information may wish to check our web site at http://www.scu.edu/ignatiancenter/spirithealth/index.cfm or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 554-4471.
Submitted by Thomas G. Plante, PhD, ABPP