Date(s) - 24/10/2017
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

O'Connor / Pilkington Rooms



Contemporary Spirituality: Understandings and implications for the education and wellbeing of young people.

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Marian writes, “My research for more than twenty years has been into the understandings of spirituality in the contemporary world and what that means for young people’s education and wellbeing. The ambiguous nature of the concept of spirituality has provided many challenges for researchers and it is one of the problems that I have focused on in recent years. The second challenge has been to identify spirituality as a distinct entity rather than confuse it with religiosity. These ideas have been foundational to my work. My early research was influenced by notions of relational consciousness as discussed by David Hay and Rebecca Nye in 1998. Subsequently, I have examined spirituality as pertaining to the relational dimension of being and expressed through the connectedness that an individual feels to the inner self and to all others that are not the self. With this understanding it becomes clear why spirituality is and should be an important aspect of education for all students. However, this is still not well represented in policies and practice. Moreover, when we consider spirituality as connectedness, there are significant implications for a world divided by plurality and influenced by global trends in terms of prejudice and racism and also in terms of belonging and identity which relate to nonconscious learning, empathy and the influences and effects of the shadow side of spirituality. Ultimately, my work in education was about developing ways to nurture spiritual wellbeing for all students across the curriculum to promote a sense of self and place (belonging and identity) which, in turn, provides young people with a sense of purpose and a framework for meaning making.”

Dr Marian de Souza spent over forty years in Catholic Education. She spent twenty years teaching music, drama and English in secondary schools followed by the next twenty years at ACU, teaching in Educational Foundations and Religious Education. Marian has presented papers and published extensively on her research into the contemporary understandings of spirituality and the implications for the education and wellbeing of children and young people. She has also examined non-conscious learning as a factor that can promote or impede spirituality in terms of the connectedness a person feels to others which is an important consideration in a global, plural world where inclusivity and social cohesion are desirable factors. Marian was Chair of The International Association for Children’s Spirituality (IACS) from 2009 -2016 and is currently serving as Chair of the Program Committee for the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values (ISREV). She is an Honorary Associate Professor at Federation University and an Honorary Fellow at ACU. Her most recent publications are:


de Souza, M. & Halafof, A. (in press for 2017). Re-Enchanting education and spiritual wellbeing: Fostering belonging and meaning-making for global citizens. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

de Souza, M. (2016) Spirituality in Education in a Global Pluralized World. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

de Souza, M., Bone, J. & Watson, J. (Eds). (2016). Spirituality across disciplines – Research and practice: Perspectives from mysticism and secular cultures, education, health and social care, business, social and cultural studies. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.


de Souza, M. (2017). The complex reasons for missing spirituality: A response to ‘Democratic foundations for a spiritualliy responsive pedagogy’. Democracy and Education 25(1).

de Souza, M. (2016). The spiritual dimension of education in addressing issues of identity and belonging. Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education 7(1), pp. 125-138




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