Transformative Power of Identity and Dignity

Barry Hart

To attempt to understand the power of identity and dignity, especially in and through violent situations, participants will explore their own experiences, relevant writing, and community and societal-level factors related to identity and dignity violation and manipulation. Identity will be examined through contemporary issues of racial, ethnic, and class discrimination, as well as in large-scale and complex situations of violence and war.

Through the exploration of current events, recent research and class discussion, course participants will explore how identity is formed historically, culturally, politically, and through religious teaching and practice. They will examine how dignity, or an individual’s deep sense of value and worth, is shaped by identity, but also through developmental factors, social and cultural contexts, and ongoing life circumstances. Course participants will examine humiliation and shame (and related trauma), prejudice and stereotyping as salient factors in what threatens identity and dignity. Multi-level approaches will be developed that address identity and dignity violations, using these elements’ inherent power to help inform and begin to transform personal conflicts as well as complex and violent ones. An arts-based approach will be explored as part of this change process.

This course is being offered for training and for academic credit. The syllabus details the number of credits hours and associated course requirements.