Kegan will examine demands of modern life in campus lecture, workshop and seminar

Feeling frazzled and besieged by competing demands on your energy and attention? Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out with trying to cope with the demands of modern society? In other words, do you feel like you're in over your head?

You are not alone. Research by Robert Kegan, educational chair of the Institute for the Management of Lifelong Education at Harvard, says that as many as two out of three of us are in over our heads. A much sought after speaker, Kegan is known for his colorful lecturing style and penetrating analysis of the present challenges in education and society.

In a lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Cannon Chapel, Kegan will discuss his 20-year research project on the hidden curriculum of adult life and how well we are doing to "pass the course." He promises, however, that no exam will be given at the end of his lecture. Instead you can grade yourself on how well you're doing.

Kegan's lecture, along with a workshop on teaching for faculty and a seminar for graduate students, is being sponsored by the Ethics Center in conjunction with the University Commission on Teaching and the Center for Teaching and Curriculum.

"Kegan brings together a focus on cognitive and emotional development in a framework that more clearly helps us see the mental and moral demands of the systems in which we live and work," explained James W. Fowler, director of the Ethics Center. "Kegan is an excellent communicator, making complex things engaging and clear with plentiful illustrations and stories."

Kegan is the author of two books, The Evolving Self and In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life (Harvard University Press, 1983, 1994). In his earlier book, Kegan presents a theory of human development that sees "meaning-making" as a core need and central activity of human beings. He proposes a series of developmental stages that succeed one another throughout life, in which our meaning takes on new shape and breadth.

His more recent book applies this developmental perspective to examine the stress-making demands of modern life, especially those involving interaction with other people. Basically, Kegan sees mental and emotional development in relation to five developmental stages. Being "in over our heads" occurs, says Kegan, when the complexities of modern life confront people who have not made the transition to the fourth developmental stage where they are able to marshal new meanings for themselves when confronted with conflicting and contradictory meanings. "Kegan should provide some strategies for getting into that fourth stage and some ideas about how we can keep from getting in over our heads," said Fowler.

Kegan's appearance at Emory is one of several ways the Ethics Center is trying to help foster greater interaction among those within the Emory community. "In a year when we are giving a great deal of attention to strengthening teaching and to the examination of the curriculum, the Ethics Center thought it would create a stimulating conversation to have Keagan among us," said Fowler.

The interactive seminar for graduate students, "Students Grow Where Teachers Grow: Transformational Learning for Educators," is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in Cox Hall Ballrooms 2 and 3, followed by an interactive workshop on teaching for faculty, "Transformational Learning: Reflective Practice and Adult Development" from 2 to 5 p.m. in Winship Ballroom. Seating is limited and reservations can be made by calling 727-1789.

The workshop will acquaint participants with transformational learning processes and practices aimed at enhancing work as a climate for personal and professional growth. The seminar addresses the question of how professionals or future professionals create conditions for themselves and their colleagues that promote the possibility of real ongoing growth and development at work. "We all need to experience our continuing growth in the context of work, not just learning more, but knowing differently," said Kegan.

A lifespan developmental psychologist, Kegan studied with Erik Erikson and Lawrence Kohlberg, and is a colleague of Carol Gilligan. He is senior lecturer in Harvard's Graduate School of Education, serves on the faculty of Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and is a founding fellow of the Clinical Developmental Institute.

--Bob Keaton

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