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JAN 186: Disconnect, Power Off, and Unplug: Embracing the Lost Art of Solitude in an Immersion Experience on the Big Island of Hawaii
Hilo, United States; Kailua, United States (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Jan Term
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: SMC-CA applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Description:
Course Title:
Disconnect, Power Off, and Unplug: Embracing the Lost Art of Solitude in an Immersion Experience on the Big Island of Hawaii

Course Description:
Solitude and self-reflection is a lost art in these times of ultra-connectedness.  Most of us find it difficult to disengage or disconnect. That’s why we all have cell phones, laptop computers, tablets, e-mail, social media pages, electronic calendars, etc. -- somehow we can't function unless we’re plugged in.  Modern communication wizardry surely has its place, but we can easily end up being servants to it.  While the energy and beauty of the connected global community is stunning, there is a need for the sake of the soul and person to step back from time to time.  As the world spins faster and faster, we mortals need a variety of ways to cope with the resulting pressures. We need to maintain balance and a sense that we are steering the ship of our own lives.  One of the best ways to regain perspective -- and liberation -- is by seeking and enjoying solitude in a dynamic and energetic celebration of its benefits.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself.  Solitude is desirable -- a state wherein you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.  Solitude is a time that can be used for reflection, spirituality, growth, or enjoyment of an activity.  It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to appreciate the worth of sharing with others.  Key to the pursuit of solitude is the learning and enrichment that results from immersion in a time and place.  This January Term course will include:

*One and one-half weeks on campus to study, discuss, and prepare written assignments in response to a variety of relevant readings about:  (1) ancient and current scholarship, philosophy, and accepted wisdom about the approaches, methods, and benefits solitude and reflection and (2) the history, cultures, linguistics, natural environment, and spiritual traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Big Island of Hawaii and their descendants residing there today.  Course activities will include close reading (texts, essays, and articles), small and large group discussions, reflection papers, and journal writing, collaboration with the SMC Legacy Garden, as well as a local outing conducive to reflection and meditation.

*Two and one-half weeks travel to locations on the Big Island to focus on spaces providing new learning, reflection, meditation, imagination, creativity, and spiritual renewal:  Hilo and surrounding areas, and Kona and surrounding areas.  We selected the Island of Hawaii (the "Big Island") because of the rich history, culture, spirituality, traditions, and ecological ethos that defines America's 50th and most extraordinary state.  For significant periods of time we will unplug, disconnect, and disengage, and in facilitated solitude, contemplate a variety of themes that enrich our lives through additional day and evening class sessions, readings, journaling, music, art, walking, reflection, meditation, as well as planned events and activities.  Our travel will be centered around deep contemplation and meaningful sharing that we anticipate will be transformative in the beauty of mountaintops, dynamic volcanoes, massive waterfalls, prehistoric forests, caves, ancient ruins, sacred grounds, and other historic sites.  While Christianity is the mainstream orientation on the Island of Hawaii, we will engage with a variety of peoples who show great respect for ancient religious practices.  We will visit a number of locations, including Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Puuhonoa O Honaunau National Historic Park, Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Summit and Stars, Lepakahi Historical Park, Kamehameha I birthplace, and students will learn and appreciate how much the Hawaiian people’s animistic roots are still manifested. Locals, especially the native Hawaiians, still believe that spiritual power, which they refer to as “mana,” is strong in many of these locations.  These special places will provide wonderful opportunities for students to observe, experience, record by writing, and expand the learning they gained on campus during the on-campus segment of the course.  The Big Island and all the Hawaiian Islands are complex and fragile ecosystems.  Hawaii has the highest number of endangered and threatened native plant and animal species of any place on the planet.  During our stay, we will partner with the Friends of Hakalau Forest organization to perform a service project in the area.  Our goal is to make a modest contribution to the sustainability of the Big Island. 

Upper Division

Permission of Instructor
Collegiate Seminar 001-Critical Strategies and Great Questions
Collegiate Seminar 002- Western Tradition I
Collegiate Seminar 003-Western Tradition II (preferred)

Reading List:
John Barbour, The Value of Solitude: The Ethics and Spirituality of Aloneness
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
Linda Menton and Eileen Tamura, A History of Hawai'i
Daniel Harrington, Timeline Hawai'i
Course Reader (including articles and essays related to solitude, reflection, issues related to modern technology, Hawaiian history, culture, and spirituality).

Basis for Final Grade:
25%   Active, thoughtful participation and engagement in all on- and off-campus class discussions, activities, events, and interactions
15%   Journal assignments
15%   Weekly reflection papers
20%   Small-team presentation
25%   Final essay

This program is currently not accepting applications.