Intellectual Shamans


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Recently, I attended the Spirituality and Creativity World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. I was presenting a couple of papers but focussed on the other presentations offered rather than my own. I was fascinated by a presentation by Sandra Waddock of Boston College entitled “Intellectual Shamans and Difference Makers: Creatively Working to Heal a Troubled World”. I immediately bought her book, inhaled it …  and now, am sending it out to you. There are many of us in academe who are here because we love teaching, love our students and hope to make a contribution to our field. It may not be the public perception of teaching, but I assure you, we are not here for the money!  The hidden pressure in academe is to conform, to repeat what has been done before and to not “rock the proverbial boat”.  To go against the norm, to innovate educational programs or create new (thus different) bodies of work is not encouraged and can limit if not ruin your academic career. Keep your head down and your citations up.

Waddock’s book “Intellectual Shamans: Management Academics Making a Difference” rocked my world. She defines intellectual shamans as scholars “who become fully who they must be, and find and live their purpose, to serve the world through three capacities: healing, connecting, and sense making, and in the process seek or come to wisdom.” Waddock interviewed twenty-eight thought leaders who have dared to challenge and then change the face of education. She tells their stories truthfully … meaning the painful trials and tribulations of questioning the oldest priesthood on the planet. People who now are revered in management education tell tales of how they were laughed at, ridiculed and in some cases fired for being ‘different’.  It is a book that gives me hope, much needed inspiration and maybe even a kick in the butt to try a little harder.  If you live now in academe, or are considering graduate work in any field, this book should be compulsory reading.

Waddock states: “If we reinvent education, if we reinvent universities, if we reinvent organizing, if we reinvent societies, economics, and sustainable enterprise of all sorts, we can perhaps tap the potential within human beings to reinvent our relationships with each other and change our world for the better. We have to dream a new world into existence.”

It gives me courage to keep going. I hope you read it.

Intellectual Shamans: Management Academics Making a Difference

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