The degrees offered in the Graduate Institute are generally a 48-credit, 4-semester Master of Arts degrees. To accommodate students who meet specific qualifications and are prepared to move more quickly through their graduate studies, Goddard College offers a 36-credit, accelerated study option. This option is designed for students who are interested in deepening their studies in a current practice and who have already conducted much of the exploratory work of a first semester student. Applicants will need to show clear readiness to engage in independent, graduate-level study to further develop expertise in their current field and with the intention of further growing their work in the field.
Therefore, ideal candidates will have engaged in previous work and study that deepened their knowledge and understanding in the area and where it sits in the wider context of the field. Additionally, they should have a clear sense of where they would like to focus their studies and how graduate-level study will advance their work.
Goddard’s approach empowers you to take charge of your education. Our graduate program is student-centered in that you choose your topic of inquiry and, with the help of your advisor and peers, design a program of study built around your unique interests and based on how you learn best. Goddard invites you to “think outside the box” about your topic by drawing from diverse and pertinent fields of study. This approach allows you to see a wider view of the theories and practices that connect to your work, which can contribute to a more holistic study and thesis project. This process enables you to learn about the passion that drives your study, your life, your challenges, your gifts, and what your study can contribute most to you and your community.
We encourage you to review the frequently asked questions about accelerated graduate study and to speak to an admissions counselor about your interest in the program.
Qualifications for Admission
Goddard College offers a 36-credit, accelerated study option to students who are interested in deepening their studies in a current practice and who have already conducted much of the exploratory work of a first semester student. Students should have a clear sense of where they would like to focus their studies and how graduate-level study will advance their work.
All applicants to graduate degree programs must supply evidence of having earned an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. Applicants seeking admission to the accelerated degree track should also have significant professional development in the degree or concentration track in which they intend to apply. Examples may include:
- Completion of a professional training program, such as the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program; Gaia Education’s Design for Sustainability course, the Transformative Language Art Network’s TLA Foundations certification, or another training program related to your focus of study;
- Publications and/or conference presentations;
- At least three years of experience working in your main focus of study or practice through businesses, nonprofit or community based organizations, foundations, government agencies and/or institutions; or
- Other learning experiences, leadership or creative engagement in initiatives central to your topic of inquiry.
If you are unsure if this program option is for you, or if you have any questions, please contact an admissions counselor at 800.906.8312 or email@example.com.
Charting Your Own Path
Goddard offers students the ability to chart their own paths and develop, or further develop, the habits and skills of life-long learning. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility since those in the 36-credit accelerated track will be expected to meet the program requirements in a shorter time-frame. Applicants will need to show clear readiness to engage in independent, graduate-level study to further develop expertise in their current field and with the intention of further growing their work in the field. This will be demonstrated primarily through a thoroughly articulated Preliminary Study Plan, as detailed in the application. In order to assist you in accomplishing this, the faculty in the MA Heath Arts and Sciences developed a series of modules, found below, to help you to organize and articulate your focus and familiarize you with some of the language and processes of graduate study.
You do not have to complete these modules, though we strongly encourage you to use them in preparation for your application. The modules provide you with an opportunity to review what you know and where you want to take it, and they are the start of your next learning venture.
Questionnaire: Is the 36-credit option right for you?
Find out if the Goddard College 36-Credit accelerated graduate study option in Health Arts & Science makes sense for you
The Master of Arts is a 48-credit graduate degree. We offer a 36-credit option for those who meet specific admissions criteria. Even if you meet those criteria, it is a good idea to consider if accelerated graduate study is a good choice for your learning goals and style. Take a moment to answer the questions below (select Y for yes and N for no.)
- Does it make sense to reduce the time you spend in completing your studies at Goddard College? Will three semesters give you enough time to complete a strong thesis or Graduate Project? This is a crucial question because for many students, this is a remarkable and rare opportunity to study an area about which they are passionate with academic support.
- Do you have significant prior experience and knowledge in a field or particular practice that would be considered the equivalent of graduate level learning?
- If you answered yes to question #2, was that learning intentional? Did you seek it out through professional training, self-directed reading and study, apprenticeships, social action work, internships, workshops, etc.?
- Is your prior learning and experience beyond what is common knowledge to most people who have completed an undergraduate degree?
- Could you describe in writing what you know (theories, traditions, skills, practices, questions you want to answer through your studies, methods through which you might answer your questions, resources you will use in your graduate work)?
- Can you demonstrate what you have learned through reflection, writing and descriptions of documentation of certificates of completion, professional training and practice, etc.?
- Are you willing and able to take on the pressure of accelerated work at this juncture in your personal and professional life?
- Do you have strong writing skills?
- Can you organize your time to accommodate 26-30 hours per week for your studies?
If you answered yes to all the questions, you may be a good candidate for the 36-credit graduate study option.
Module 1: Part 1 Graduate Education at Goddard
As are all studies at Goddard, graduate learning in the Goddard Graduate Institute programs are inquiry-driven and student-centered. Rather than following a predetermined set of courses, Goddard students design their own learning trajectory, guided by their unique inquiry and its related questions and concerns. Often, this means that Goddard graduate students engage in interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary studies – combining the knowledge and methods of more than one field of inquiry or moving into new, unexplored territory to answer their questions.
As students design their learning path, they are guided by holistic principles. Graduate students are expected to demonstrate their learning and mastery in the context of these general principles, often referred to in shorthand as Knowing, Doing and Being.
Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of existing theory about the matter studied; to be familiar with the relevant sources for theory and the differing points of view about it; to know, in broad outline, the historical development of that theory and the methodologies appropriate to work done in accordance with it; and to know and use the appropriate methods of presenting and documenting that theoretical knowledge.
Students are expected to have demonstrated the ability to apply theory in competent practice. Where appropriate, this should involve action research, qualitative research, experimental research, professional practice, etc. Students are expected to cultivate self-knowledge, which includes reflecting on their location in their studies, understanding their context and practicing open-mindedness.
As a matter of fact, we can also see Knowing, Doing and Being as a hologram – where each part contains the elements of the whole. For instance, we can see that Being contains Knowing and Doing – as we embody our knowledge, our way of being changes and our capacity for practice deepens. We’ll see this later as we move deeper into exploring these principles.
As a matter of fact, we can also see Knowing, Doing and Being as a hologram – where each part contains the elements of the whole. For instance, we can see that Being contains Knowing and Doing – as we embody our knowledge, our way of being changes and our capacity for practice deepens. We’ll see this later as we move deeper into exploring these principles.
The Alchemy of Graduate School
When we talk about mastery in the Graduate Programs, we are talking about achieving a degree of fluency in the conversations and ways of practice that are common to one or more fields appropriate to our inquiry. We are also talking about the way that this level of fluency deepens and focuses our primary question so that we are engaging it at a deeper level than what might be possible for a general audience.
This deepening and focusing process, this process of moving into mastery at the graduate level, can be likened to an alchemical distillation.
This process of “cooking” your ideas and questions, the process of focusing and refining, can often feel uncomfortable or foreign. We sometimes don’t want to move from a place of expansive exploration of ideas, into a more concentrated practice of articulation and mastery. Often, through the process of cooking, our questions may change form a little. We may find that we want to look at our question through a new lens, or that we want to let go of some perspectives that don’t speak to us.
At Goddard we have a rather famous phrase called “trust the process.” An alchemist is always noticing the subtle changes that are happening in the lab, and these changes teach the alchemist about the nature of reality.
Throughout the next few modules, you will begin to reflect on the way that your ideas and questions have already been cooked through theory, practice and reflection. You’ll be exploring the scholarly practices of knowing, doing, and being, and articulating your relationship to these principles at the present moment and with an eye to the future.
Question #1 – What are your metaphors for the creative process? (distillation, gestation, digestion, exploration)? How does your process work? (slow and steady, fits and starts, procrastination)? What inspires you or terrifies you about the notion of focus, concentration and distillation?
Module 1: Part 2
Since Goddard education is inquiry driven, it becomes important for students to have a strong sense of the question that drives their studies. As you move into an articulation of your primary question, you may begin with the question itself – and then later discover the fields or conversations that support your inquiry – or you may find yourself interested in a cross section of scholarly conversations, and a question may emerge from that exploration. You might find that a question arises naturally from life experiences that you’ve struggled with personally.
You will be asked, as part of the admission process, to articulate your primary question in whatever form it currently takes, with the understanding that the question has time to be further refined. Even throughout this tutorial, you may find that, through reflection, your primary question becomes clearer or more focused. In the beginning, this question may have not coalesced. An inquiry might look like an intersection of topics. Here are some examples:
You might enter thinking, “I am interested in youth development and urban sustainability.” Later, through an examination of literature, engaged practice and reflection, a more focused statement may emerge, “I am interested in how young people might cultivate a more nuanced understanding of sustainability by exploring ‘place’ and connecting to their environment and community through urban gardening and intergenerational exchange.” As you’ll see in this statement, there is a context that gives the inquiry relevance and meaning (place, environmental and community connection as dimensions of sustainability). There are also several disciplines that are engaged to deeply understand the question: place studies, sustainability, environmental science, community planning, social justice and social innovation, as they relate to means of engagement or intergenerational communication. Students may approach this inquiry through a combination of theory and practice. For instance students may create their own organization or work with an existing one to work with community residents to address community challenges through socially innovative processes.
For the Individualized Master of Arts:
You could come to Goddard because you want to study how children’s literature can help people overcome racism and learn about the world. Over time, through examining literature, engaging in your own practice, and reflecting on your studies, you could arrive at this statement, “Children’s literature can be a vehicle for children to learn greater appreciation for other cultures and deepen their understandings of race, privilege, and making community together.” Your study can then take you into the disciplines of children’s literature, sociology, American studies, child development, creative writing, and related fields. You might even find yourself writing a series of short books for middle-school-age children as the core of your thesis project, and studying in depth how books for this age group can have a profound effect on helping children grow to work for a more just world.
For the MA in Health Arts & Sciences:
You might start with the statement, “I am interested in child development and parenting strategies.” Later, through an examination of literature, engaged practice and reflection, this question may become more focused. “I know that many parents engage in time out as a form of discipline for children and I want to know how this practice affects emotional and cognitive development through looking at the neurobiology of shame.” As you’ll see in this statement, there is a context that gives the inquiry relevance and meaning (cultural parenting practices) and there are several disciplines that are engaged to deeply understand the question: cognitive development, emotional development and neurobiology. Your study might lead you to develop a study — based on research and a series of interviews you conduct — of best practices for non-shame-inducing redirection and discipline.
For the MA with a concentration in Transformative Language Arts:
Maybe you’re entering the Individualized MA program with the question of, “How can writing help people facing big losses in their lives?” Later, through an examination of literature, engaged practice and reflection, a more focused question may emerge, such as, “How can writing in community help middle-aged women develop greater resilience after losing parents and experiencing other life losses?” Such a focus can lead you into several fields and traditions to study your question, such as transformative language arts, grief studies, the genre of memoir writing, sociology, psychology, community-building through the arts, and related areas. You can approach this inquiry through theory and practice, such as piloting a writing workshop for the population you’re studying, collaborating with writers or storytellers on community projects, or a series of interviews or oral histories.
For the MA with a concentration in Consciousness Studies:
Perhaps you’re drawn to study the intersection of health and consciousness, particularly through mindfulness practice. As you consider your topic more, you may land on the question, “How can integrating mindfulness practices into elementary education help children make healthier choices in school and at home?” From there, you can consider literature, engaged practice and reflection, drawing on fields and traditions such as consciousness studies, child development, mindfulness practices and its roots in Buddhism and other traditions, education and pedagogy, children’s health, and related to that, diet, exercise and other health practices.
Write down several ideas or questions that interest you at this time. As you look at your list, notice which question has the most energy for you. Spend some time with your question or questions. What becomes clearer to you just by articulating them on paper? Keep in mind that you may become clearer on your question or questions as you move into the next modules.
Module 2: Being
Welcome to Module 2 of the online tutorial. This module will cover the “being” part of Goddard’s “knowing, being and doing” model. At Goddard College, we ask you to reflect on your way of “being” in your learning – how your learning changes you, how your learning locates you in time and place, and how your learning highlights the relationships between self and others.
In this module, you’ll write about your being as it relates to your intended learning at Goddard, and the work that emerges will become part of your admissions essay.
So let’s begin!
We all live in many contexts and our histories, experiences, capacities (both visible and invisible), and places in the world shape how we see, think and interpret experiences and knowledge. The ways in which we approach our studies hinge upon our values, biases, and social, cultural, and ideological roots. At Goddard we understand these larger contexts when we suggest that knowledge (knowing) and practice (doing) are not objective or neutral; rather they are affected by who we are as people in the world. Our perspectives and our expectations shape the choices we make when developing areas of inquiry and shape the way we interpret our findings.
In addition, as we learn we change. And as our learning grows, we come to embody that learning and hold our knowing as part of our presence in the world. Our capacity to understand and articulate the complexity of our learning lives not only in our words, in our “heads”, but in our being. In the GGI pedagogy, this embodied knowing becomes a node of well-being for ourselves and for our communities.
As a degree criterion, “being” involves focused reflection on learning and experiences, and how they shift our thinking, the way we see ourselves in the world and in relationship with others. Learning changes our “way of being.” As a degree criterion, “being” requires intentional mindfulness of the significance and use of knowledge, how it impacts the self and how it impacts others.
Through “being” you are asked to be mindful of your values, motives, biases, as well as biological, social, cultural, spiritual, political, and ideological roots, and to reflect on the ways that new learning contributes to your personal growth and your evolving sense of self. You are asked to synthesize your evolving self-knowledge with knowledge of the historical, cultural and epistemological dimensions of your study.
The act of being means thoughtful consideration of these kinds of questions:
- Who am I as a person in the world?
- Who am I as an agent of social change?
- Who am I becoming in the context of everything that I am learning?
- What are my intentions for the impact that I want to have?
Being “Locates” You and Your Primary Question
As we engage being, as we reflect on our position and location relative to our question, we may refine our perspective: Who are we who is asking this question? What sort of life experience do we have that informs our question? What sort of life experience do we not have and how does this inform our question? How is this question unique because we are asking it?
Activity # 1: Reflecting on Being as a Context for Learning
Who are you as a person in the world? Reflect on your social context as well as your personal experiences and the relationship between them. How do your experiences and your intersecting identities shape your understanding and the questions or wisdom that you bring to your studies?
Activity #2: How has your learning changed your “way of being?”
Reflecting on your knowledge and your practice thus far, who are you becoming in the context of everything that you are learning? What do you wish to embody as you grow in your understanding and practice of your topic of inquiry?
Module 3: Knowing
Welcome to Module 3 of the online tutorial. This module will cover the Knowing part of the Goddard’s Knowing, Being and Doing model. Scholarship in Knowing involves understanding of the academic disciplines and traditions that inform your area of study and of the location of these perspectives among other ideas about the subject. Development of this knowledge takes the form of traditional reading and research, and may take less traditional forms as well. Some examples of the latter would be artistic/creative activities, case studies, internships, contemplative practices, and embodiment practices.
In this module, you will be bringing a variety of lenses to thinking about:
- what you now know and
- what you hope to learn through your studies.
The questions at the conclusion of each section are meant to help you to visualize, organize, and express what it is you know and wish to know. You will draw from this information for writing your Educational Essay.
Overview: Knowing and the Construction of Knowledge
Increasingly, knowledge is being accepted as an ongoing, dynamic, co-creative activity. Ideas draw from and build upon what is known at a given time and context, tacitly and explicitly. From this perspective, the elements of our world, including knowledge, are understood as responsive aspects of interrelated living systems, in which change in any part affects change in the others and in the whole.
This represents a shift from earlier perspectives which held knowledge as more fixed sets of truths imparted by the more knowledgeable to the less informed. Those with the power to define those truths often held power in many aspects of a culture, and debate and diminishment of another’s point of view were methods of pursuing and maintaining that power.
From a more collaborative, egalitarian approach to knowing, multiple perspectives are brought to a question, enriching each person’s perspective and the collective knowledge. While some people do have more knowledge in an area than others, and some perspectives seem sounder than others, each person carries unique experiences, perspectives, knowledge, and wisdom to contribute to collective knowing.
This does not imply that all perspectives are of equal value. Discernment about which theories and ideas seem most coherent and vibrant for a particular context will be a part of your study.
Your Place in the Conversation
At Goddard College, we often refer to participation in the construction of knowledge as conversation. With your studies, you will contribute to the conversations in your fields of interest. You may contribute ideas, a unique way of approaching questions, and/or the particular style of engagement and experiences you bring. Your primary question, discussed in Module 1, frames the place you wish to locate yourself in the conversations you are engaging.
Activity 1: Return to your primary question. Are there revisions you want to make as you consider:
- What is the concern you wish to address with your studies?
- What problem are you hoping that your studies will offer an alternative to?
- What do you want to find out about it?
- What experience and approach to this question are you bringing to the conversation?
Academic Disciplines or Areas of Inquiry
Given the dynamic, interdependent, co-creative nature of knowing, doing, and being, students’ studies at Goddard often draw from multiple academic disciplines and fields of study. Each brings unique lenses to exploring the questions of the time. As such, each discipline or area of inquiry is engaged in a particular kind of conversation about a subject. Each frames the issues in a particular way, selecting and leaving out aspects based upon:
- Assumptions held
- Questions posed
- Information and aspects of an issue considered most relevant
- Language used to define and describe perspectives
- Tools and methods of research employed
Inquiries into such questions as how to restore one’s health, how to prevent violence, how to address climate change, or how to live a meaningful, fulfilled life will benefit from an understanding and integration of a variety of ways of examining multiple interpretations of causes, motivations, effects, and restorative remedies.
In recognition of this, students’ work at Goddard is usually collaborative and interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary. They bring the lenses of multiple perspectives to enriching their knowledge in an area. They do this through:
Activity 2: You may find it helpful to use Venn diagrams, as above, or mind maps in sketching out your areas of study and their relationship to one another. Again, do not expect yourself to know the answers to all these questions. They are an invitation to clarifying and discovering what you know and what you would like to know:
- What are some of the ways people have understood and addressed your primary question?
- In what academic disciplines or areas of study has this been explored? By which writers/theorists and in which key texts? What are the differing schools of thought or practice that have developed in response to the question?
- What are the ways each discipline approaches the question (such as their focus, the questions they pose, the language/terminology used, methods, and assumptions)? How has this influenced what they see and how they interact with their subjects?
- Who and/or which perspectives currently have the power to define our understanding, practices, and responses in the cultures you are considering?
Individuals shape and are shaped by their contexts, such as family, community, culture, and physical environment. We influence each other’s ideas, values, assumptions, perceptions, beliefs, qualities of being, and practices. Some influences are readily apparent, while others are difficult to identify, often embedded in our assumptions about the way things are. All of the contexts indicated in the following diagram are in constant interaction with one another, and, as holistic theory suggests, they are not as distinct from one another as a diagram suggests.
And this occurs in an historical context made up of institutions, values and assumptions, power structures, economies, faith systems, traditions, and roles—to name a few—which form and give form to those who live in its midst.
e.g. shifting paradigms:
And change in one context affects change in the others:
e.g. human response
e.g. sources of violence
Activity 3: In considering the contexts affecting the focus of your area of inquiry, choose those that seem most pertinent to your study. It can also be illuminating to examine a context you have not considered before. However, at this time, your focus is on what you now know and want to know.
- What are some of the root causes of the problem or concern that you wish to address? How does one cause affect another?
- What influences from its contexts have affected your area of interest?
- How has the way it has been understood changed over time?
- Where are your approaches, authors, schools of thought located in the wider cultural contexts?
Drawing from the notes as you write your admissions essay. Consider what you currently understand about your proposed study, including:
- your areas of interest for graduate study
- the academic disciplines or areas of study you wish to bring to it
- theorists/writers/practitioners and key texts you studied in your current practice
- your contribution to the conversation
- what you know and what you hope to learn
You are now ready to move on to Module 4…
Module 4: Engaged Practice
Welcome to Module 4 of the on-line tutorial. This module will cover the “doing” part of Goddard’s “knowing, being and doing” model. In the language of the graduate programs, we talk about engaged practice, or transformative practice, or simply, practice. This practice becomes one of the key degree requirements.
In this module, you’ll be guided to reflect on and write about your practice, and to compose the piece of your work that will become part of your admissions essay.
So let’s begin!
John Dewey and other progressive educators have talked about the importance of learning through experience, and the general purpose of practice is for you to live out your area or areas of study through a personal, social, spiritual or other practice that is an expression of your core inquiry.
We’ll be talking about the many ways that we can learn through doing, many ways of engaging in practice, but first, we’ll revisit together some familiar themes.
Practice Refines the Primary Question
As we’ve seen in earlier modules, the primary question – that question which lives at the core of your studies and which guides your learning – spends some time “cooking” in the crucible of knowing, being and doing.
Your initial interest becomes focused and refined through your engagement with knowing, being and doing.
We have seen that as we engage knowing, as we engage the scholarly conversations that are relevant to our inquiry – the literature and the theory, the disciplinary, interdisciplinary and perhaps transdisciplinary knowledge – our primary question becomes refined and clarified.
Similarly, we have seen that as we engage being, as we reflect on our position and location relative to our question, this also refines our perspective. Who are we who is asking this question? What sort of life experience do we have that informs our question? What sort of life experience do we not have and how does this inform our question? How is this question unique because we are asking it?
So in a similar way, doing also helps to refine the question. Sometimes we engage in a practice in order to deepen our understanding of the question. A personal practice or contemplative practice may serve this function. Sometimes we engage in a practice (for instance qualitative research) expressly to answer a question. And we may discover as we do that research that the question gets clearer.
Activity #1: What have you learned from actually doing your practice that has changed how you understand the work?
One more thing that we want to acknowledge together, and this will feel familiar, is that knowing, being and doing are, again, aspects of one whole experience of learning. They inform each other, yes, but they also live within each other. Remember the metaphor of the hologram that we used in Module One.
We can see that practice contains elements of knowing and doing.
Praxis is a term that you will hear at Goddard to signal the relationship between theory, practice and reflection.
Sometimes we say that praxis refers to “putting theory into action” – but a more complete understanding of praxis is that it is the unity of practice, theory and reflection.
Practice – can take many forms;
Theory – the shared, contextual knowledge;
Reflection – on the value and effectiveness of the practice, on its potential for development, on how we are changed and grow in our learning.
Forms that Practice May Take
In the Graduate Institute, engaged practice usually takes one or more of the following forms. As you contemplate this list, consider what resonates with you, what is familiar and what is unfamiliar, and what intrigues you. Also, know that this list is not exhaustive. You may be working with more than one practice.
Also, know that this list is not exhaustive. You may be working with more than one practice.
- Working in a health modality, artistic practice, or educational tradition
- Engaging in some sort of community work and/or testing a social innovation
- Engaging in a personal practice, such as a religious and/or spiritual practice or personal artistic practice
- Designing and implementing qualitative research
- Inventing a new practice
In all these cases, the practice becomes a source of questions, inspiration and deeper understanding of the context of the inquiry.
Let’s look at each of these in detail.
Sometimes learners come to Goddard already trained and practicing in a modality – for instance as community organizers, yoga teachers, nurses, artists, business owners, health coaches, community leaders, educators, arts administrators, body workers, writers, life coaches, etc. In these cases, they want to use their work as a location for deeper reflection and learning.
Community Work as Engaged Practice
Many learners come to Goddard engaging in work in and with their communities. They may have a community practice or they may be inspired to expand into one. For example, if they’re working on toward an SIS degree, they may be creating and testing a social innovation or implementing a sustainable approach to their work
Personal Practice as Engaged Practice
Some learners have been engaged for some time in rigorous and ongoing practices, including body practices, contemplative practices, art practices, among many others. These practices tend to cultivate and draw on new “ways of knowing” that can lead to new understandings of self and world. For example, a student in the Consciousness Studies concentration may have a long-time contemplative practice.
Qualitative Research as Engaged Practice
Learners may sometimes design and implement qualitative research studies using a variety of methodologies – ethnography and fieldwork, participatory research, heuristic research, arts-based inquiry – and using a number of methods – fieldwork, interviews, case studies, collaborative projects.
Activity #2: Describe your practice… years in the field … marriage vs an affair
How a practice fits into academic work
- At Goddard College, learners are asked to pay attention to the complexity of questions that arise when they design and articulate their practice in the context of their studies.. What am I doing? How am I doing it? With whom? What are the risks or benefits? For me? For others? How will I share what I learn? These are a few questions.
Our questions, and the answers to our questions, lead us toward the articulation of our methodology.
Methodology is a term that refers to the “logos” of our methods, the principles that are the ground of our methods, or (more simply) their logic. So the term methodology actually involves several components.
Methods – methods are the actual things you do.
- In qualitative research (QR), the methods may be case studies or interviews
- In personal practice, the method may be daily yoga practice or journaling
- In community practice, the method may be workshops or organizing
- In terms of modalities, your method may include coaching, delivering babies, writing herb formulas.
Epistemology – refers to how we construct knowledge.
- In a community practice or QR project, is knowledge co-constructed?
- In a personal practice, how do we describe multiple ways of knowing?
- In a clinical practice, who holds the knowledge and power? How is knowledge shared?
Positionality – refers to where we are located in our practice
- What does it mean to be practicing yoga in the United States?
- How am I situated in the culture of nursing?
- Who am I in relationship to my community, or to a community I want to study?
Ethics –How do we protect and respect others in our practice?
- Who speaks and who is spoken for in my practice?
- What sort of reciprocity exists between my research participants and myself?
- Am I professionally qualified to engage in this particular modality?
- How will I protect the confidentiality and privacy of participants?
- How am I influencing … / what am I bringing BEING
This is just a beginning. Lots of questions to ask.
As you write the admissions essay, consider the practice that will be an integral part of your Goddard studies.
How does this practice inform your primary question? How might it inform your inquiry?
Using questions asked in this module, write about your current understanding of your methods, your epistemology, your positionality and your ethics.
Module 5: Creating Your Study Plan
Welcome to Module 5 of the on-line tutorial. This module covers the creation of your Plan for Three Semesters of Graduate Study.
In this module you will be guided to map a plan of study that will help you and your advisors plan, track your progress and refine your process as you move through your semesters. Your plan will include your primary question(s), the learning areas that you expect to study to acquire the knowledge and skills that may answer your primary question(s), a preliminary bibliography and a preliminary title/shape for your Thesis/Final Product.
So let’s begin!
Materials for this Module
To make this process easy, assemble the following work from your previous Modules before moving forward:
- The primary question(s) that will guide your study
- Your list of areas of learning that you expect to study (fields, disciplines) to answer your primary question(s)
- Your description of what you already know, which may include
Summary of learning acquired in other graduate programs
Summary of learning acquired in professional programs
Summary of learning acquired through personal practice, experiential processes, research
What You Intend to Study
- What you need to know
- Methods for acquiring new learning, skills, knowledge, etc.
- Methods of documenting learning
- Your preliminary list(s) of resources, learning activities and/or methodologies\\
- Any notes you have about what you might want your Final Product/Thesis to be
Final Product/Thesis: At this time, how do you envisage your final product?
Summary of Learning Overview
By requesting entry into an accelerated graduate study program, you are saying that you have already completed the equivalent of at least one full semester of graduate-level thinking, practice and research related to a study you are passionate to pursue.
Your prior learning may have been acquired through previous coursework, professional training, work in your field or experience in the world. Keeping your prior learning in mind can help you create the map of what’s left to study and the best kinds of resources, learning activities, methodologies, and methods of analysis you hope to use to answer your research question(s). The Study Plan you design will move you towards completing all requirements for a graduate degree that will support your professional and personal goals.
A Note of Reassurance: The preliminary study plan that you craft is your starting point. It changes once you meet with Faculty advisors and peers.
Creating your Summary of Studies for Three-Semesters
Since you are planning an accelerated graduate study, you will have an idea of your primary question and focus, and a sense of previous learning and experience most relevant to the study you want to pursue. You will also have a picture of the flow of your time in the accelerated program. The clearer you are about your direction during the application period, the smoother your experience will be as a student.
Your first semester of studies should demonstrate that you have done the exploratory work that usually comprises the first semester of graduate study. During your second semester, you will determine what you will study and do to move toward completion of your Final Product/Graduate Thesis. The third semester is devoted entirely to completing the Final Product/Graduate Thesis.
OK, so here’s how the work of your semesters will flow:
- First semester and some of the second semester: you will focus on developing greater MASTERY of your learning areas.
- Second semester: you will apply your learning to “real life” situations through development of your current practice (practicum, workshops, conferences, research, etc.). This is your LEARNING BY DOING semester. In addition, you will begin to shape and create sections of your Final Product/Thesis.
- Third semester: you will bring together your research and experiential learning into a FINAL PRODUCT that makes the outcomes of your study accessible to others. Though all Final Products have a written component, Final Products vary–they can be a traditional, research-based thesis; a social-action project or a body of creative work with essays that contextualize its form and content in larger disciplinary and social conversations.
Remember, you are creating a preliminary study plan for three semesters of graduate study. We do not expect your plan to be perfect or fixed. Just work to be clear enough to show where you have been and where you hope to go.
Hints for Focusing a Study if Your Interests Feels Too Vague or Vast
If you are still a bit uncertain about how to focus your interests, find resources or think about what you will do, take some time to go online and look at some colleges’ graduate-level courses that sound related to your interests. This is a great way to see how broad interests can be turned into concise descriptions with lists of outcomes and references.
Here are some examples for the MA in Social Innovation & Sustainability and the MA in Health Arts & Sciences. Please feel free to apply these approaches to IMA studies as well as Consciousness Studies or Transformative Language Arts in HAS, SIS and IMA.
For the MA in Social Innovation & Sustainability
Having worked as a grassroots community and environmental activist for a few years you are attracted to the Social Innovation and Sustainability degree because you want to use your studies to both educate others and to have a positive impact on your own community. Suppose you do some initial searching on the Internet and discover that you are intrigued by the emerging “reuse” industry. You know of an organization empowering socially marginalized citizens in environmentally degraded communities to turn trash into building blocks for community centers, schools, gathering places and affordable houses. You learn that there are more and more organizations and individuals involved in “creative reuse” work. You can imagine how you might publicize the good work being done to inspire your own and other communities.
You begin to see the value in using your studies to create a blueprint for reuse projects while working on developing a model project locally. You realize, too, that it would be strategic to make the case for reuse by documenting the extent of waste produced and the effects of landfills on the environment. You determine that understanding our culture of mass consumption is also necessary to get at the root of the problem.
You begin to map out a study plan based on three broad areas of interest and relevance: 1. mass consumption culture 2. applied principles of social innovation and sustainability 3. the state of the reuse industry. You do an online search to identify resources and activities relevant to these areas. Perhaps you investigate the work students are doing in related degree programs and the content and syllabi for those programs. Your ideas regarding how to structure your own learning to accomplish your degree goals are becoming clear. You know what you need to learn and have an idea about what you want to accomplish on the ground.
You are now ready to enter study areas, activities and sources into your Grid and bibliography. This will be linked with your narrative essay to give a snapshot of what you have done and what you hope to do in your time at Goddard.
For the MA in Health Arts & Sciences
Suppose you know you want others to hear about a wonderful woman from Latin America who brought her culture’s health practices to community health clinics near you (in the southwestern U.S.). You realize that this sounds like creating a biography so reading biographies to understand and think about what makes a successful, interesting biography is a good place to start. You also imagine that what you do could be used by those who teach or take workshops or courses in public and community health, women’s studies or cultural studies, etc. You also start to realize that your Thesis might be in the form of creative project (a biography) with an essay that contextualizes the content and process of your work.
You’re not quite sure about books or the kinds of learning activities you hope to do, so you decide to jumpstart your thinking by doing a search online. You take two approaches.
- You do a general search for Biographies of Women (especially people that interest you); Biographies of Women of Color: Biographies of Famous Latinas; or Famous Women in Healthcare .
- You look at the Table of Contents or Index in the back of books that sound useful to get ideas about how you might want to design your study
- You look at the Bibliography or References List at the back of books that sound useful to get ideas about the kinds of resources that might support your work
- You do a search for graduate-level course descriptions (syllabi) offered at other colleges. These show you what is expected of graduate students in traditional courses related to the study you are developing for yourself.
If you know that you need and want to study: How To Write Biographies; Famous Women In Public Health; Latinas and Community Health Projects In The U.S., you already have three substantial areas of learning. After your online adventures looking at graduate level syllabi, you will also have ideas for resources and types of learning activities that you may want to include.
When you feel you have a clear, coherent flow of study areas and activities, as well as titles for a preliminary bibliography, enter your content into your Grid. This will be linked with your narrative essay to give a snapshot of what you have done and what you hope to do in your time at Goddard.