Course of study

The centerpiece of our programs is a course of study focusing on the theory and practice of satyagraha. This course presents Gandhi’s experience as a starting point for a much broader discussion. The roots of satyagraha will also be explored in other spiritual and cultural traditions like indigenous spirituality, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker movement.

Several resident faculty and a variety of visiting resource people will guide our exploration of the following core topics. For each tradition, we will explore theory, personal lives and practices, satyagraha in action, successes, failures, and lessons learned. The format includes instructor presentations and group discussion.

• Satyagraha as a method of social change
• Nonviolence in the tradition of Mohandas Gandhi
• Nonviolence in traditions of indigenous spirituality and culture
• Nonviolence in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement
• Nonviolence in the tradition of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement
• Nonviolence in traditions of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and secular pacifism
• Conflict resolution theory
• Tools for conflict prevention
• Tools for conflict resolution / Working with individuals
• Tools for conflict resolution / Working with groups

the arts

The summer institute will explore, in theory and in practice, how the arts interact with satyagraha in the work of social change. Artists have the power to help us reconsider how we might interpret challenges, approach conflicts, and engage uncertainties. The arts can help us shift perspective and see new options. The arts can inspire bold action. These are all dynamics that can support the work of social change.

community life

An important goal of the summer institute is to strengthen the community of practitioners, teachers, and future leaders who are committed to experimenting with satyagraha. We expect that important relationships will develop in the course of our living and studying together.

Additionally, the program emphasizes two aspects of community life that are integral to the work of satyagraha. First, all participants will share in bread labor, simple manual labor to support the basic needs of the community.

Second, sustainability will be an ongoing reference point during our time together. As we work for social change, we will regularly assess the long-term impact of our daily living practices.

the inner life

The practice of satyagraha requires attention to the inner life. As Gandhi, King, and many others have demonstrated in their words and actions, the practitioner must commit to investigating, challenging, and training his or her heart. The summer institute will encourage attention to the inner life in several ways:

• The course of study will include exploration of how different spiritual traditions provide foundations for nonviolence.
• The daily schedule will include ample time for rest, personal reflection, and individual spiritual practice.
• There will be regular opportunities for group meditation, as well as instruction on training the mind to be more at ease and attentive.
• The daily schedule will include a time for discussion of various topics related to the inner life (such as developing our ability to offer patience to difficult people, monitoring our intentions, and preparing ourselves to enter difficult situations).