the Transformative Learning Centre in the department of Adult Education at OISE/UT

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The TLC fully endorses the
Earth Charter initiative
and its principles




Expanding the Boundaries
of Transformative Learning

Essays on Theory and Praxis

Edmund O'Sullivan
Amish Morrell
Mary Ann O'Connor

"if we are to prevent global disaster, we need a totally different way of educating our children. The essays in this book take us an important part of the way toward the transformation we need."

--Rabbi Michael Lerner Editor,
TIKKUN Magazine and author,
Spirit Matters: Global Healing
and the Wisdom of the Soul

Copyright © 2003 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd
New York, NY 10010
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About the Book

Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race and gender; our body awarenesses; our visions of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of possibilities for social justice and peace and personal joy. The editors of this collection make several challenges to the existing field of transformative learning—the first is to theoreticians, who have attempted to describe the nature of transformative learning without regard to the content of transformative learning. The editors argue that transformative learning theory cannot be constructed in a content-neutral or context-free way. Their second challenge, which assumes the importance of content for transformative learning, is to educators as practitioners. The editors argue that transformative learning requires new educational practices consistent with the content. Arts-based research and arts-based teaching/learning practices are one example of such new educational practices. Education for the soul, or spiritual practices such as meditation or modified martial arts or indigenous peoples’ forms of teaching/learning, is another example. Each article in the collection presents a possible model of these new practices.

"Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning offers a new vision of global community and new strategies for political struggle. It is a book that does not limit social transformation to the narrow confines of the classroom, but locates learning in the larger arena of mind and spirit. The authors put praxis into the service of rebuilding a world devastated by global capitalism; it is a project that confirms how decolonizing pathways to the human heart can be instrumental in the larger anticapitalist struggle ahead. "

--Peter McLaren, Graduate School of Education and
Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

"The rates of social change, the movements of the world's people, industrialization, globalization, and militarization continue to escalate at an ever-accelerating pace. Educators face an unprecedented task. They must support people to become highly creative, collaborative, problem solvers, and critical thinkers. They must cultivate people's capacities to see the world from profoundly different perspectives. They must nousish people's capacities for connection and caring in a fragmented and divisive world. The authors of the essays in this volume have been wrestling with all of these questions. They push our thinking forward. Nothing is more important."

--Mary Field Belenky, co-author of
Women's Ways of Knowing and A Tradition That Has No Name

"This is truly a unique book. It challenges us to transform ourselves and our planet by being aware of the creative cosmic power that flows through ourselves and the universe we inhabit. Too often, alas, we abuse this power. These authors ask us to look deeply into our souls through 'others'' piercing eyes - those who represent our spectrum of humanity from activists to spiritualists. Such a vision will transform all who read these essays."

--Wm. E. Doll, Jr., Vira Franklin and J. R. Eagles
Professor of Curriculum, Louisiana State University


Introduction; E.O'Sullivan, A.Morrell & M.A.O'Connor
Towards Transformative Learning: Ecological Perspectives for Adult Education; D.Clover
The Labyrinth: Site and Symbol of Transformation; V.Compton
The Right to a New Utopia: Adult Learning and the Changing World of Work in an Era of Global Capitalism; B.Hall
The Culture of Peace; A.Goodman
Situating Spirituality in the Agenda for Transformative Learning' G.J.Sefa Dei
Transforming Research: Possibilities for Art-Informed Research?; J.G.Knowles & A.Cole
What is Curriculum Anyway?; M.Maxwell
Transformative Learning and the Tao of History: Spirituality in the Postindustrial Revolution; B.Milani
Learning From a Spiritual Perspective; J.Miller
Traces of the Forgotten: Photographic Ambiguity and Critical Histories; A.Morrell
Exploring Healing and the Body Through Chinese Medicine: Notes on Pedagogy and Embodiment; R.Ng
The Integrative Power of Fiction as Research: New Paradigms for Scholarship in Transformative Learning; M.A.O'Connor
Transforming the Ecology of Violence; E.O'Neill & E.O'Sullivan
The Transformative Power of Creative Dissent: The Raging Grannies Legacy; C.Roy
Bringing Latin American Traditions of Transformative Learning to the North; D.Schugurensky
Journey of Our Spirits: Challenges for Adult Indigenous Learners; R.Shilling
The Signature of the Whole: Radical Interconnectedness in Education; D.Selby
African Women, the Land, the Universe and Creation: A Spiritual Connection; N.Wane

Author Biographies

EDMUND V. O'SULLIVAN is the Director of the Transformative Learning Centre, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, at the University of Toronto.

AMISH MORRELL is a doctoral candidate, OISE, University of Toronto.

MARY ANN O'CONNOR is a doctoral candidate, OISE, University of Toronto.