Brain science is the new frontier for scientific and human sciences. Since the ‘decade of the brain’ in the 1990’s, fundamental discoveries are shedding light in why, how, when and where the brain/body/mind functions and develops. These discoveries are influencing not only neuroscience but beckoning to radically change a host of disciplines from anthropology, sociology, motivation and emotion, psychology, traumatology, addiction recovery, medicine, and law; and are being influenced themselves by mathematics and physics. A new synthesis of these disciplines is called interpersonal neurobiology and suggests the arrival of a relational revolution across the spectrum of areas of study including philosophy and theology. This relational revolution may exceed the significance of the Copernican revolution.
Brain science, just like the Biblical record, suggests we are essentially relational beings. This stands in contrast to world views that highlight the individual will, domination of creation, and the power of rationality. The answers to the great theological questions of “Who am I? “Who are you, my God”, and “What is the good life?” have different nuances in a relational rather than cognitive foundational world. We will offer the radical proposition that Joy is central to brain physiology and human and spiritual well being. Values, morality, and ethics all are more grounded in a relationally determined world than they are in our current cognitive world view.
In the realm of human growth and development, we will teach that God’s ideal design was for us to mature from infant to child to adult to parent to elder with specific relational skills and roles needed to be mastered at each stage in order to produce a life giving, multi-generational community. A multitude of relational failures on both individual, community and societal levels including trauma, mental illness, chronic stress related diseases, bullying, etc. are better understood and repaired from this perspective than from the now current perspectives.
This ten-week class provides a major expansion of the five-week class that has been previously offered. New in part 2 of this class are an emphasis on actually learning relational skills rather than being introduced to them; new focus on decision control models of the brain that suggest why we do what we do; correlations between brain science and theological constructs like peace, joy, hope; the interpersonal neurobiology of identity formation and repair; implications for addressing mental health issues and healing; and integrating these findings with Biblical truths.
This is a very practical course. The experientially learned relational exercises will change your brain structurally and functionally to experience more joy. You will become kinder to yourself and improve your ability to restore joyful relationships to community, family, and individuals.
This is a very challenging course. The most difficult task in growing up is transforming old beliefs. There is also so much new factual material that even PhD trained folks would be challenged to learn it all. The goal is to provide a new framework for learning.
This may also be a very exhilarating course. When you hear words put to truths that you know on an intuitive level but have never heard verbalized, your heart jumps for joy. When you learn a missing relational skill, life is easier and better.
If you have read this far and are confused but still curious, take heart. The experience of teaching versions of this class four times shows that every student, from the PhD psychologist to the student who has had almost no science in their life, will be successful in the course. It may even be advantageous not to have much background; you will have much less to unlearn. We appreciate and respect a skeptical mind. The class is designed to require about two and a half hours of work outside of class time per week for non-credit and baccalaureate and a more for master’s level students. Non-credit students must do all assignments.
There is no primary text. Please see annotated bibliography for major sources. Instruction will be a combination of lecture and multimedia and with exercises and small group discussion. Doing this in the new socially distancing environment is challenging, particularly because relational learning through relational experiences are foundational to the class. The ideal setting for the live class would be for the participants to recruit one or two close friends to be your relational group. As of this writing we are contemplating offering both classroom and virtual versions of the class. Master’s level participants must take live class.