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Semester Program & Course Descriptions

The Sophia Center's basic academic course of study offers a Master's degree in nine months. It is designed for those who can become full-time students for a traditional late August through May academic year. A rich diversity of courses designed to focus and amplify your spirit.

At the heart of the Sophia Center's course of study is the fourfold wisdom that Thomas Berry offers as a guide to the future: the wisdom of indigenous peoples, the wisdom of women, the wisdom of the classical traditions and the wisdom of science. Our nine-month program for a master's degree or Sophia certificate offers a rich choice of courses that focus and amplify this wisdom.

Students may also attend this program on a part-time basis, completing their course of study on a schedule that fits their personal needs. Residential arrangements are available on campus. This program may also be taken on a part-time basis over more than two semesters.

Fall 2014: Fourfold Wisdom


Spirituality of Earth, Art and Spirit

A new cosmology (the emerging narratives of universe, evolution, and geo-justice) that is reshaping human experience on earth and drawing us forward toward an engaged cosmology through the celebration of compassion, creativity and depth.

Jim Conlon, PhD is the director of the Holy names university/Sophia Center. he has degrees in chemistry, theology, social science and culture and spirituality.

K. Lauren de Boer is a composer, essayist, and poet with a special interest in human-Earth relations.

Brian Swimme, PhD is a cosmologist and a professor on the graduate faculty as the California Institute of Intergal Studies.

The Healing Ecstasy of Sound

Vibration is at the core of all that exists in the universe. Many cultures have long believed that the world itself was created through sound, and some believe that illness is a musical problem, a result of a lack of harmony in the system. In this class we will explore music as a spiritual practice and a path to opening our hearts and uncovering our true nature. We will engage in a wide range of musical experiences from traditional and contemporary traditions, designed to open our hearts and create equanimity, joy, ecstasy, and healing. Our time together will include sessions of toning, chanting, harmony and rhythm, improvisational sounding, meditation and silence, in a safe, humorous and sacred environment. No musical experience is necessary.

Jennifer Berezan, MA is an internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter/recording artist and teacher. She is a unique blend of poet, musician and music healer.

Sacred Space in Afro-Cuban Lucumi Tradition

This course will explore how plants play a central role in the spirituality, cosmology and theology of an African diasporic religion in the Caribbean. We will trace the origins of plant lore to sacred texts and oral histories, which originated in West Africa and became culturally adapted in Cuba and the Caribbean. We will create an awarenes of the centrality of enviro-conciouness as a foundation of indigenous religion and foster this awareness in students as a method of spirtual transformation and enlightement. Plant identification and use will be taught and the students will be shown how to make use of common plants for emotional and spiritual balance.

Maria “Ogun Gbemi” Concordia, Afro-Cuban Lucumí tradition-Metal Artist-Anagó Language Specialist Maria has been a student of the Afro-Cuban Lucumí Religion for over 30 years and is one of only 5 women in the world to have achieved the level of Oba Oriate. The Oba Oriate is a position of importance for the transmission and preservation of Lucumí religious cosmology and practice. It requires the memorization of hundreds of prayers, chants and songs in the Anagó language, a deep knowledge of traditional plant use and folklore, and knowledge of Lucumí theology and cosmology. She received a Master’s Degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University and her thesis “The Anagó Language of Cuba” was given the award for best thesis in the department in 2012.

Tai Chi

A Chinese exercise system that emphasizes deep breathing, centering energy and slow, balanced posture to enhance coordination and awareness.

Michelle Dwyer, AA has been teaching Chinese healing and art and martial arts for over 30 years

Painting as Spontaneous Expression

We will use painting as a tool for self-discovery and spiritual exploration. The "Point Zero Method" is a radical way of dissolving creative blocks.

Kathy “Kat” Davis, MA, has a background in art and intuitive energy healing and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, having worked with children, families and individuals for over 20 years.

New Cosmologies and Spiritual Practice

Humanity, throughout history, has lived in awe of the Great Mystery. This awe has manifested in many different manners of worship which have been the expression of humanity’s spiritual life and of its eternal search for an ultimate meaning. During the last century, and continuing today – through the early years of the 21st century – we are being faced with new cosmological outlooks derived from revolutionary scientific discoveries as well as from any new insights originated with other human disciplines. The object of this course will be to explore how these new visions of reality will affect the manner in which we worship, to explore how the awe derived from the Mystery illuminated by this new light will affect our spiritual practice.

Josefina Burgos, AIA, PhD. Born and educated in Santiago, Chile; came to the United States in 1976 and was a practicing architect for 16 years. She completed her MA and PhD studies at California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, where recently she presented a forum entitled: Becoming: The Concept Where Science and Philosophy Can Meet.

Archetypal Mythology in Dream-Work

In this course we will discuss major archetypal motifs from our own and other cultural mythologies. Exploring through dream-work is a creative and alchemical experience which can be powerfully transformative and healing.

Barry Friedman, PhD, MFT is a psychotherapist and historian of religion practicing in the East Bay.

Mystics and the New Story

The persistence and universality of mysticism raises crucial questions: Are we all, by our very nature, mystics-in-the-making? Visionaries under heavy cover? Out of the great “flaring-forths” of spiritual awareness – in ancient India, for examples, and the Middle East, and medieval Europe… come riveting stories of men and women whose lives seem to challenge everything we thought we knew about evolution… and ourselves… suggesting that mysticism is, indeed, a powerful evolutionary force in human consciousness.

Carol Lee Flinders, PhD specializes in medieval studies and is author of Enduring Grace, Enduring Live and At the Root of This Longing.

Opening to the Sacred in the Age of Distraction

What we give our deepest attention to ultimately forms who we are, as individuals and as a species. In an age of information overload that increasingly distracts us from deeper thought, how do we cultivate opportunities for creative reflection? What sanctuaries can we create that allow for contemplative space in the flurry of everyday life? This intensive explores accessing the inner landscape through stillness, sound, original music composition, and poetry. Participants will explore and reflect on their own unique ways of nurturing creative thought.

K. Lauren de Boer is a composer, essayist, and poet with a special interest in human-Earth relations. For many years, Lauren was executive editor of EarthLight, a magazine of spirituality and ecology. He studied music composition with Korean composer JooWan Kim, exploring the intersection of classical and contemporary musical genres. He is author of a 2008 collection of 95 poems, Where It Comes From. His essays have appeared in a number of publications and anthologies, including, most recently, the Sierra Club Books anthology Eco-Therapy: Healing with Nature in Mind.

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