Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Encouraging Imagination and Resilience: Two Opportunities to Learn, Play and Practice

by Lifelong Learning Staff

“Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God’s changing world” is a phrase that is coming to life on the seminary campus, as we engage in visioning, self-assessment, preparation for reaccreditation visits, and curriculum review.  As a partner in the learning lifecycle for clergy, educators, church professionals and other leaders, Lifelong Learning has long sought to provide opportunities to spark the imagination, and provide periods of renewal, re-creation and refreshment for church leaders. 

A good deal of attention is being paid to how imagination and resilience are nurtured. Dr. Anthony Ong, Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development, Cornell University, has conducted research that leads him to conclude that positive emotions are the basic building blocks of flourishing in the face of adversity. In his article, “A Life Worth Living: The Science of Human Flourishing” Ong concludes “that the notion that positive emotions have adaptive value is no longer contestable, but what precisely this means for individual lives and societies has not been fully appreciated. He adds, “that one thing is for sure: When our positive emotions are in short supply—when we feel hemmed in by negative emotions such as fear and sadness—we become stuck in a rut and painfully predictable. But when our positive emotions are in ample supply—when we feel lifted by the centripetal force of our closest relationships—we take off and become generative, resilient versions of ourselves.”[i]

Two classes scheduled for this summer and fall will engage participants in ways sure to inspire imagination and reflection.  Both make room for the different ways learners engage content – different learning styles and preferences, in other words.
The first opportunity, “Embodied Spirituality: Embracing the Fullness of Life,” will be led by Debra Weir on September 20-23. Weir’s course will engage the physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of learning. Re-creation – and downright playfulness – will allow for what we hope will be a truly incarnational learning experience.
The second class will be led by Jane Vennard, November 11-16. Retired from Illif School of Theology, Vennard is in demand throughout the country as a leader for spiritual direction and spiritual practices workshops. In this class, learners will explore “Spiritual Practice: A Way of Life” in ways that go way beyond sitting in a chair and taking notes.This class will examine and experience many spiritual practices, traditional and organic, available to us and to our congregations. Vennard will invite learners to play with a mix of intentional and spontaneous practices in ways that converge into authentic expressions of meaningful practice for congregations, groups and individuals.

[i] For more information, visit the Human Development Outreach & Extension website of Cornell University where additional copies of this article and many other resources are available: