Towards an understanding of spirituality in theory and practice: the case of Holton Lee

Reinhart, Carolyn Jean (2003) Towards an understanding of spirituality in theory and practice: the case of Holton Lee. DProf thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Holton Lee's mission is "... empowering and resourcing people, particularly carers and disabled people through creativity, environmental awareness and spirituality". We are a voluntary sector charity with longstanding Christian roots committed to be inclusive, non-discriminatory and provide equal opportunity. Our "research and development" need and question was "How can Holton Lee best establish and embed an informed, authentic spirituality within its praxis?" We first had to design an appropriate research approach with which to consider the new academic fields of spirituality and spirituality at work or organisational context. Since spirituality is understood through the lens of praxis, we started our Participative Action Research in the only place we could, the "here and now" of our current practice, committed to build affirmatively on the existing vision, mission and ethos with the fifty-seven year old roots of The Then, through The Now of the research process, for the sake of The Tomorrow. As researcher/worker 1st person ethnographer I worked with five 2nd person co-researchers in the organisation. We functioned as an informed reading group with mutual shared responsibility throughout our four year non-linear, cyclical iterative lived inquiry and process in which we were committed to resolve emerging conflict. We had monthly meetings and several half day events/workshops designed to facilitate 3rd person awareness/consciousness raising and dissemination within the organisation, which enabled us, as insiders, to become more fully informed and self-critical, and to guard against projection, manipulation, biases or prejudices. We were engaged in a bottom-up process of experiential and embodied learning rather than attempting to find a party line to impose top-down theory, doing to others as objects. Completing all the stages of the Leaming, Pastoral, Hermeneutical and Action Research cycles along with the Discernment Process, and Heuristic Approach resulted in the creation of further action, empowerment, liberation and the creation of knowledge, as we integrated intervening impacts and development which informed and shaped subsequent steps and future cycles. Data was continually cycled and re-cycled as we were able to be responsive, learning on the run, with enhanced understanding. The parallel process of on-going reflection and discernment helped us as we formulated more informed plans for action. In this way our practice was changed. As a Case Study we relied on extensive literature review in order not to be isolated but rather find interconnected solutions with research and action outcomes as by-products of our process to insure informed action. Second and third person interviews and writing contributed to the writing up of our story. Fruitful dialogue between critical reflection and participative engagement enabled spirituality to be woven throughout the organisation. The adequacy or worthwhileness of our participative research project was determined by the degree to which transformation and emancipation was achieved and lived out. Thus the research process, which connected power and knowledge, did contribute to the flourishing of those involved in our community of practice with the fruit and outcome of deep, connected and embodied triple loop learning, change, transformation and empowerment at individual, group and organisational levels with shared power and voice. As result of identifying and correcting gaps between the vision/theory and practice, our organisational system changed from a hierarchical to flat structure and deeper and more sound foundations were laid as theory and practice continually informed each other with resultant generalisable and transferable grounded living theoretical underpinnings extrapolated. A Personal Growth and Spirituality Statement and Policy and Job Description were written along with the development of a Basic Model of inclusive praxis as well as a Model for Understanding and Developing Spirituality Praxis. Guidelines and principles were identified to help Holton Lee and others understand how to appropriate spirituality praxis within their own local contexts, environments and milieu with consideration for our global home/community.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Additional Information: Submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Professional Studies (developing a spirituality praxis within an interdisciplinary organisation).
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 10760
Depositing User: Adam Miller
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2013 09:43
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 02:37

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