Naropa University Oakland
Master of Liberal Arts Program in Creation Spirituality


Spirituality and Homelessness  
Art of Community Building
Units: 1

Instructor: Michael Mansfield             
Telephone number: 510-525-2347

Email address: [email protected]

Fall 2004
November 6-7  
Saturday 9am-6:30pm
Sunday 9am-1pm

Course Description:
Participants engage in an informational and practical exploration of the spiritual dimensions of homelessness in ourselves, our community, and our universe. This weekend expands the participant’s understanding of "the anawim” as spiritual guides for our time", a central tenet of Creation Spirituality.  Participants and homelessness resource-colleagues contribute to and help co-create the weekend's learning. This weekend class includes forums, on-site practicums, and times for reflection. 

Course Objectives:
1. To begin to dissolve the differences perceived  in any "us/them" approach to the question of homelessness, and to become conscious of the spiritual and physical arenas of our "shared" homelessness, recognizing our interconnectedness in these times on planet.
2. To attempt to mine the spiritual homelessness underpinnings and justice questions that arise in their visible forms of illiteracy, adultism, sexism, heteroseism, racism, disease, classism, ability-ism, "job market", dysfunctional family dynamics, substance abuse/materialism, mental illness, ageism, militarism, and religion.
3. To walk through some of the "homelessness doors" with respect to education, youth, women, sexuality, race, AIDS/cancer, disability, class, "right work", family, addiction, privilege, peace, health, and faith. Participants may enter this compassion practicum through the door that surfaces as their strongest interest and deepest passion.
4. To engage in theological reflection on our experience as a way of deepening our understanding of the connections between homelessness and our spiritual lives.
5. To speak publicly about our learnings. 

Pre-Course Requirements:
Physical and spiritual preparation for this course includes:
- reflect on this question: What does 'home' mean to you?
- discern a chosen method for reflection for the weekend (paint, theater, short story writing, movement, journaling, poetry, photography, or another form and bring the appropriate supplies to make this possible)
- seek out and bring/find some printed or audio-visual contribution of learning resources for the UCS Library related to questions of homelessness in society and culture that we will donate and leave as a resource center  (e.g., pamphlets, articles, books, magazines, statistics, documents, videos, audio cassettes, or lists of homelessness resources/info in your city or  community)

Full attendance to the weekend in these ways:
Participation in preparations, forums, and activities             40%
Participation in the compassion practicum                          20%
Participation in the library addition and final presentation           40%
Saturday 9 - 12
Opening the Door (Welcome and Overview)

Saturday 12 - 1
Walking through the Threshold (Immersion and On-Site Learning)

Saturday 1 - 3

Telling Stories at the Kitchen Table (Theological Reflection)

Saturday 3:30 - 6:30
Sharing a Cup of Tea (Discernment and Collaboration)

Sunday 10 - 1
Returning to the Welcome Mat (Service Learning and Transformation)


Naropa University-Oakland will provide accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  To request an accommodation, or to discuss any learning needs you may have, contact the Dean of Students, (510) 835-4827 ext 15.