Three Big Idea Episodes Showcase Justice Work at Antioch

We’re nearing the one-year anniversary of the founding of this show. To cap off a great year for the Seed Field Podcast, we’re putting together three mini-episodes that revisit interviews from this season and pull out the themes that consistently run through them. 

Big Idea: Environmental Justice and Environmental Education at Antioch

“You must praise the mutilated world,” wrote the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. But in an age of worldwide environmental crisis and collapse, how do we cultivate this appreciation, knowledge, and love? Across three recent conversations with Antiochians engaged in the work of environmental justice and environmental education, we heard multiple creative approaches. Here we look for common themes and bigger answers.

Big Idea: Mental Health Justice at Antioch

Access to mental health care should be a right, not a privilege. In the second episode of our bonus series, we take a look back at conversations with mental health professionals at Antioch, and how they have used their work to address social injustices in our society. Whether it is helping us confront our unconscious biases, advocating for culturally responsive therapy practices, or creating more accessibility to these professions, Antiochians are continuing to break boundaries and push their field in the direction of justice.

Big Idea: Teaching for Social Justice at Antioch

It’s easy to say you want to imbue social justice into a program’s curriculum—but how do you actually do it? Across conversations from this season we heard about how different disciplines are embracing ideas of literary citizenship, decolonizing their curricula, and advocating for a more inclusive definition of leadership. All while building on Antioch’s 170-year history of social justice education.

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Transcript for “Big Idea: Environmental Justice and Environmental Education at Antioch”


[00:00:04] Jasper Nighthawk: Welcome to the Seed Field Podcast, the show where Antiochians share their knowledge, tell their stories, and come together to win victories for humanity. I’m your host, Jasper Nighthawk. Last week, we released the final episode of season two and we’re nearing the one-year anniversary of our founding of this podcast.

To cap off a great year for the Seed Field Podcast, our editor, Lauren Instenes and I wanted to do something special and a little different, so we’re putting together three mini-episodes, minisodes if you will, that revisit interviews from this season, and pull out the themes that consistently run through them.

The themes we’ve seen emerge in our conversations this year really go back to the core of Antioch’s mission. I want to actually read that mission statement out loud because it’s really good, and also it’s just one sentence long. Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. I really liked that whole sentence, and especially the last part. I do think that what sets Antioch apart from many other universities is its explicit dedication to advancing social, economic, and environmental justice.

This really goes back to our first president, the famous education reformer, Horace Mann, who told the first graduates of Antioch to “Be ashamed to die before you’ve won some victory for humanity.” In today’s Antioch, you can see this directive placed at the core of everything we do. For instance, we use it as the tagline for this podcast. In a broader sense, this rallying cry inspires teachers to do their best to prepare students to join today’s most pressing challenges.

These questions of how to create more social, economic, and environmental justice are what drive this show and keep us excited to make it because we get to talk to scholars and educators, and students, and alumni who are passionately and brilliantly involved in solving them. For the next three episodes, we’re going to look back at how guests, this season, address these problems. For today’s minisode, I’m going to look at the creative ways Antiochians are tackling questions of environmental justice and education.


[00:02:44] Jasper: Learning about environmental justice can start in the classrooms of our youngest students. Jon Garfunkel, who teaches in the education program at Antioch Seattle told us about an aspect of environmental justice that isn’t always emphasized, looking closely at food. For myself when I was in elementary school, and through high school, and even into college, eating was always this thing that was separate from learning. It happened during breaks or at lunch. I think the only time food entered the classroom was if we’d earned a pizza party for good behavior, but maybe that was a missed opportunity on my teacher’s part.


[00:03:26] Jon Garfunkel: What we realize is that doing things through food can accomplish things that we often think we can accomplish without food, but through food, either accomplish it in a better way, more successful way, more enduring way, more sustainable way and that’s one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned and I think we collectively in all this work have learned, is that through food, we can address issues of climate change, economic injustice, racial injustice so many problems that we have in the world can be accomplished without food, but through food, they can be accomplished for the very reasons you were just giving that example, it brings people together. It’s that notion of convivium, community through food, food through community.


[00:04:15] Jasper: The key here, as John told our guest host Mair Allen, is to help students see what they eat is connected and part of global food chains and ecosystems and environments and really, the wider world. In some ways, food is the most tangible and intimate way that we can interact with our environment and ultimately, in his quest to bring edible education to students around the country, Jon is working to help students leave the place of passive consumption, and instead become active participants in preparing and even cultivating their own food. Jon believes that this is something that everyone can do, even with extremely modest resources.


[00:04:58] Jon: Reclaiming the commons or one’s own personal public space from parking strip in front of one’s yard, to an empty building, or even parts of parks that are unused, even public spaces like fence lines that go across public institutions, the idea of using those places and reclaiming them or repatriating them as places to grow food is as much a political act as anything else. I think in this day and age, statements like that send powerful, diverse messages to numbers of different stakeholders about the importance of those places, the use of those places, and the opportunity to grow food in places that serve the public, not just ourselves.


[00:05:53] Jasper: This idea came up again, and again, through these conversations that going outside, seeing what’s there, and getting your hands dirty, can be liberatory and transformative. Here’s Ellen Doris, faculty at Antioch New England, talking about outdoor education.

[00:06:11] Ellen Doris: When we spend time outdoors, one of the things that we see is how intricately everything is connected, and how we’re part of it all so I guess I’d like listeners to remember that they’re part of it all and important and that we each have work to do and things to offer and joy to find and even small moments outside can help us on our way.


[00:06:43] Jasper: Here’s Jim Jordan, from Antioch New England, talking about how important it was for him as a child to be taken outside, to go to specific places, and to learn about the world.

[00:06:56] Jim Jordan: When you’re in grade school and you take field trips, and I did too, and a few of them just resonate with me to this day, maybe eight or nine years old, 10 years old, had nothing to do with environmental studies, but they were out in the field and, boy, I just viscerally remember some of the things we were looking at, so many experiences. It’s transformative, it sticks with.

[00:07:24] Jasper: I love how these teachers we talked with emphasized over and over how important it was to foster in young people, this interest and this sense of wonder and love of the outdoors. In our conversation with Ellen, we also got to talk with Liza Lowe, who teaches at Antioch New England and runs our inside-outside network. She told us about how during the Coronavirus pandemic, many teachers have begun bringing their students outside.

[00:07:52] Liza Lowe: There have been so many more teachers who are interested, who have come to nature-based education or outdoor learning because really early on, we knew that being outside sort of the transmission of COVID was a lot lower, it was a less of concern, because of the airflow and whatever outdoors and so just taking your students outside was a safer place to be so there were a lot of teachers who jumped on board because of that. However, once they started taking their students outside, I think it was pretty quick that they noticed the benefits.

One of the things that we often talk about is children who don’t thrive as learners inside a typical classroom, go outside, and all of a sudden, not only their teachers and the other adults in the school, but their peers also see them shine and they can recognize how, “Oh, this child who I didn’t realize, has this strength.”

[00:08:52] Jasper: It moves my heart a little bit to think of a young person who’s having trouble in school, finding their strength outside. Another of our guests, Dawn Murray, who teaches at Antioch online sees the same potential to reach learners in new ways when she leads her college-level students into the field.

[00:09:13] Dawn Murray: We would meet at various locations, at a mountain, at a beach, at a river, at a lake, and just learn about conservation issues, ecology, endangered species, managing those areas. There is something very inspiring for kinesthetic and visual learners, something so important about being in the field, seeing the plant, touching it, smelling the land, the dirt, seeing the landscape that just settles with them and it’s something they don’t forget.

[00:09:55] Jasper: Here’s Jim again, taking what Dawn said even further.

[00:10:02] Jim: I think just as important is the building of community that just is unparalleled, in a curriculum, to go and spend time with a group of people and become colleagues, visit with experts in the field and these indigenous groups, with stakeholders, and really gel together as a group of folks on this learning endeavor is unparalleled, it’s transformative.


[00:10:47] Jasper: Finding and creating opportunities to connect with the world around us, both the land and everything that lives on it. To do this in a supportive learning environment, it truly benefits everyone, whether through doing field studies somewhere far from home or planting tomatoes in our backyards, these experiences leave us with newfound strengths and knowledge. Maybe most importantly, they give us a greater appreciation for the land and communities that sustain us. Thanks for listening to our first minisode exploring the larger themes running through the Seed Field Podcast.

I hope you’ll join us next week when our editor, Lauren Instenes takes us on a dive into mental health justice at Antioch. For full show notes, as well as transcripts, prior episodes and more, visit our website, The seed field podcast is produced by Antioch University. Our editor is Lauren Instenes. A special thanks to Karen Hamilton and Melinda Garland. Thank you for spending your time with us today. That’s it for this episode, we hope to see you next time, and don’t forget to plant a seed, sow a cause and win a victory for humanity. From Antioch university, this has been the Seed Field Podcast.


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Transcript for “Big Idea: Mental Health Justice at Antioch”


[00:00:04] Lauren Instenes: Welcome to The Seed Field Podcast, the show where Antiochians share their knowledge, tell their stories, and come together to win victories for humanity.


I am your guest host today, Lauren Instenes. I am normally behind the scenes editing each episode, but in this minisode, I’m going to lead us on a journey back into the podcast archives from this season. I hope you’ll join me as we take a closer look at our focus on mental health at Antioch University.

At the core of Antioch’s mission is the idea of serving our communities and working to win victories for humanity. I think one of the most service-oriented careers in the world is that of a mental health professional. Every day they strive to help their clients and communities heal and grow, helping us to become the best versions of ourselves.

Unsurprisingly, as the goals of these professions align so well with Antioch’s mission, we have a long history of training mental health practitioners. As early as 1982, Antioch’s first doctoral program in clinical psychology was founded on New England’s campus. Today, Antioch offers over three dozen programs in counseling, therapy, and psychology. New programs are continuing to be developed all the time.

This season of The Seed Field Podcast, we interviewed counselors, therapists, and psychologists. As I was doing research for this episode, I started to ask the question, what’s the difference between these professions? Is there one? I thought that might be a good place to start. The key distinction is the level of education. Counselors and therapists have Masters or Doctorates while psychologists must have a Doctorate.

There are other distinctions in the profession’s theory and history, but in practice, they all perform similar services. Some say that counselors and therapists will focus more on the day-to-day side of mental health, helping the client figure out how they can sustain better mental health in their everyday lives. While psychologists focus more on underlying issues and past experiences. However, this very much depends on their own personal training and philosophy.

Here’s where I think it can be useful to hear how specific professionals describe their own practice. Let’s first listen to how Mariaimeé Gonzalez, a counselor from our Seattle campus explains her work.


[00:02:24] Mariaimeé Gonzalez: Then we want the client to be the expert of how they are defining their own cultural wellness in that particular journey, and being thoughtful and honoring that throughout that experience as mental health professionals, and working through it with a social justice lens on a micro, meso, and macro level.

Honoring the oppressive systems that might impact that individual, but also how would they like to do their own liberation work and their journey as a client with the particular counselor in a collaborative relationship.


[00:02:58] Lauren Instenes: Here’s Monique Bowen, a psychologist from our New England campus describing her work.


[00:03:04] Monique Bowen: I think probably the most helpful understanding of psychoanalysis, I think, has to do on an insistence on seeking, and seeking that which isn’t known, and the transformational power that can come from discovery. That insistence, that work of understanding our own journey, our mutual journeys with others, and as a culture, society, a people. There’s so many areas of research and discipline that look at aspects of communication.

Within psychoanalysis, the way that we explore that communication is multi-determined, but at the base idea of it is to reach a place of a deeper knowledge that comes from the things that we’re not thinking about, that are not top of mind.


[00:04:14] Lauren Instenes: We also interviewed two art therapists, Beth Donahue and Amy Morrison, who recently started a brand new online art therapy program at Antioch. Their program is part of the clinical mental health counseling program, so these students could classify themselves as therapists or counselors. However, art therapy itself is a unique practice with its own certification and professional standards.

In this next clip, Beth explains how this type of therapy can be extremely useful in situations where other therapies aren’t working.


[00:04:46] Beth Donahue: We actually know that some traumas are actually not even stored in the same part of the brain that language is, so it’s not actually even possible to make that connection in the brain and have words for what has happened to you, but you can. It is stored in where our symbolic language is stored. If you are trying to process a trauma, if you are trying to explain what has happened to you to someone else, and there are no words, there is no way to access that through language, but you can put something on a piece of paper. You can put some symbols, and some lines, and some shapes down on a piece of paper that represents what happened to you.

Not only does that help you to communicate your experience to the art therapist, it also gets that memory outside of you and onto a surface that you can then reflect on, that you can get some distance from, that you can put aside if you need to, and then bring out again when you’re ready. Artmaking not only helps us access the information that we need to process a trauma, it also helps us communicate that to someone else. Both things we see as therapeutic and necessary.


[00:06:11] Lauren Instenes: Art therapy can be used for so much more than accessing trauma. It can also be an extremely accessible form of therapy for children or those who use nonverbal communication. One of the things that I like most about Antioch is the way that all of the programs infuse social justice into their curriculum. This emphasis on social justice came up differently for every person we interviewed.

For example, Maria just recently co-founded the Latinx Mental Health & Social Justice Institute at Antioch.


[00:06:43] Mariaimeé Gonzalez: We hope with the institute to expand on that where we’ll have continued education which we have started, where we have workshops, where we have speakers come in from the Latinx community to talk about ways that they have worked with clients and advocacy. We’re looking at research opportunities.

We’re looking at global engagement, partnering with other institutions in Latin America, where students can have the opportunity to travel and work in those particular countries to do different kinds of service or training projects.

Then also partnering with other disciplines on social justice projects, where really, we can all learn from one another in our disciplines. We all have gifts to bring. How do we work together with those gifts to strengthen and evolve the work that we can do with Latinx communities?


[00:07:41] Lauren Instenes: Likewise, Amy and Beth are working hard to ensure that their new program is using diverse materials and that it is accessible to a wide range of students. Here’s Beth and then Amy describing those efforts.


[00:07:55] Beth Donahue: We expanded our definition of graduate school material to include not just peer-reviewed articles and textbooks, which are important parts, but also those leave out a lot of very important voices that are talking about things that we want our students to learn about, and things that we, Amy and I also want to learn about. We include vlogs, and blogs, and social media posts, TikToks, and Instagram.

We want to make sure that we are giving a place for the voices of people who are talking about the issues that are important to our students. Those things are all included in our classroom experiences as well.


[00:08:34] Amy Morrison: We’re thinking about whose voices we’re including. We’re asking ourselves about what voices are missing. Even before that, choosing to have a program online is a socially just decision. In that people don’t actually have to move to New England, which is an extremely expensive place to live, and people don’t have to move to Seattle or the West Coast.

Really, with this online platform, the way that we can open up our programming and training of our therapists is expansive.


[00:09:13] Lauren Instenes: This mission of making a transformative education available to more people and communities really embodies Antioch’s history and mission, but another side of that mission is to use the techniques we study to bring greater justice to the world. Monique is doing just that, focusing her research on how we can use psychoanalysis to better understand and heal communities with large divides.


[00:09:39] Monique Bowen: The reason I’m interested and have been interested in the application of psychoanalytic ideas to the problems I see and that we all are experiencing is that it’s that same sense of not looking at a problem, that is exactly why we should use these techniques to explore this problem.

It is made from the willing and willful lack of exploration and lack of naming in a fully aware way the power of the relationship to heal the relationship that’s been formed based on power differential, the relationship that’s been formed around race, and other aspects of identity that should be contested in the therapy space are opportunities for people to actually engage with another person subjectivity and make meaning where these things can be contested, with the understanding that it’s occurring within a space that can hold it.


[00:11:01] Lauren Instenes: Across these interviews with Antioch professors, it’s clear that they all understand that you can’t talk about mental health without talking about community, culture, biases, and oppression. Through their work, they are planting seeds to create an accessible and culturally responsive mental health field, starting right here at Antioch.

You can find links to the three episodes referenced in this recap in the show notes. We post the show notes on our website,, where you’ll find full episode transcripts, prior episodes, and more. The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University and hosted by Jasper Nighthawk. A special thanks to Karen Hamilton and Melinda Garland.

Thank you for spending your time with us today. That’s it for this episode, we hope to see you next time. Don’t forget to plant a seed, sow a cause, and win a victory for Phumanity. From Antioch University, this has been The Seed Field Podcast.


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Transcript for Big Idea: Teaching for Social Justice at Antioch


[00:00:04] Jasper Nighthawk: Welcome to The Seed Field Podcast, the show where Antiochians share their knowledge, tell their stories, and come together to win victories for humanity.


I’m your host, Jasper Nighthawk, and today, we have a minisode about social justice in scholarship and pedagogy here at Antioch. For the past two weeks, our show’s editor, Lauren, and I have been diving into the themes and questions that run through all of our episodes. So far, we’ve covered Antioch’s many approaches to environmental justice and mental health justice. Today, for our final bonus episode, I want to dig into the ways that we can bring social justice into classrooms and into the world.


If Antioch has a calling card, this is it, a devotion to social, economic, and environmental justice that stretches back to our founding in 1852. It really was there right from the beginning. Antioch was the first university in the country to hire a woman to the title of full professor. Even before the Civil War was fought, Antioch made a point of admitting Black students.

This legacy continued into the 20th century when the school was repeatedly a leader in working for student success, from inventing the co-op model to eliminating letter grades. The university pioneered the practice of awarding older students with prior learning credits, giving official credit for things adults learned outside of formal classrooms. I personally love this last one because my dad took advantage of this program to finish his bachelor’s at Antioch when he was in his 30s.

Antioch has this long history of expanding opportunity to people who otherwise have been excluded from higher education. So much of this good work is carried forward by teachers and staff across our university today. Honestly, it’s a big part of why I’m proud to be an Antioch alum myself and to be the host of this show, but the past is just a story if the work doesn’t continue. It’s been great to hear this season some of the ways that the social justice mandate is influencing the work of different departments and to hear about how it gets applied in every field, from creative writing to the study of leadership.

In our interview with the poet, Victoria Chang, we heard about her idea of literary citizenship, something she’s worked to imbue into the curriculum of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.


[00:02:50] Victoria Chang: For me, I think of literary citizenship as very simply just remembering that even when you’re writing anything, you’re not writing only in a vacuum, and you’re not writing just for yourself and for the benefits of yourself, that you’re a part of a larger community that you should try and give back to in some way that you might feel comfortable.


[00:03:20] Jasper: Victoria’s idea that as writers we shouldn’t just write for ourselves but we really need to give back to the communities that support us, is something that I really take to heart. I think it’s really especially important today when so many people are feeling atomized and alienated and lonely like they aren’t part of any community at all. At the same time, I think it’s hard to see how a degree program can promote something as big as citizenship. To me, it seems harder to teach that than to teach somebody to write a good short story. Where do you even start?


[00:03:57] Victoria: For me, actually, at a larger level, literary citizenship, I think, over time, has become this way in which I navigate the world and live the world in terms of building something or helping other people or enabling other people, helping to build, assisting, whatever words that we want to use to build a more equitable and just community and I wanted that when I was younger, I would’ve loved to have been a part of, but obviously wasn’t a part of.

I think for me, that’s how I’ve ended up thinking about literary citizenship is if we had a clean slate or as I always say in our program, if we had a table with just a bunch of butcher paper on top, how would you actually make something? Versus, “Oh, here’s this thing that’s totally broken, how shall we fix it?” The way that I think about anything that I’m working on is, “Okay, let’s imagine something totally different, and let’s imagine what we might be able to build if we didn’t have any constraints, and then we’ll go from there.”


[00:05:19] Jasper: This idea that we should start from the foundations and build from there without our imaginations constrained by what already is, in some ways, it’s so hopeful. Across Antioch, scholars and teachers are doing this work of reimagining their disciplines. In season one, we got to talk with Syntia Santos Dietz and Cathy Lounsbury about their work and their colleagues’ work trying to decolonize the curriculum in the clinical mental health counseling program.

In last week’s bonus episode about mental health, Lauren played some clips from Mariaimeé Gonzalez who’s one of the co-founders of Antioch’s new Latinx Mental Health & Social Justice Institute, which is doing similar work trying to elevate culturally responsive healthcare for Latinx people across the country. This work is going on in so many different areas, and really there are as many approaches as there are teachers. One place where I think this work is most important is in the study of leadership itself, which is a big emphasis here at Antioch where we have the Graduate School of Leadership and Change.

This season, we got to speak with a prominent scholar from that program, Donna Ladkin. She told us about the ways that newer theorists of leadership are challenging our culture’s implicit notions of what a leader looks like, mainly that leaders need to be loud and decisive and charismatic, and often male.


[00:06:49] Donna Ladkin: To give you an example, I worked in the UK for quite a long time. I did a lot of work with military leaders in the UK. We talked a lot about distributed and collective forms of leadership. One of the young military officers I was working with recounted a tale of his superior officer coming to watch a group of his cadets working with him and the superior officer said, “What are you doing? I don’t see any leadership here.”

The officer had been on this program said, “Well, no, actually there’s a lot of leadership here, it’s just what are you paying attention to. Are you paying attention to the collective dynamics that are going on here?” Whereas the superior officer was expecting leadership to look at one person yelling at other people. I think a reason to study leadership is to actually because it can expand our view about what leadership can look like.


[00:07:52] Jasper: Education can be liberation when it frees us of our preconceived notions like the idea that a leader has to look and sound a specific way. When you get free of that idea, you start to notice all sorts of leaders all around us, from leaders across our university who have spent years building and refining curricula to make them more just, to our students who come with open minds, which might be the bravest thing of all.


[00:08:25] Donna: I was just reading one of my student’s work today. It’s a reflective essay that she’s writing about herself as a leader, that she never imagined that she could be a leader because she wasn’t necessarily flamboyant and charismatic. That idea that in order to be a leader, you have to be outspoken and be able to garner a lot of attention and that sort of thing, I think that’s the assumption that many people have about being a leader.

In the essay that she wrote, she wrote that actually, she, as part of the program that she’s on, comes to appreciate that that actually isn’t necessarily what being a leader is about, that actually there are other ways of leading. I think we can limit ourselves by thinking that a leader has to look a certain way or act a certain way, when in fact we can still exercise influence and whole groups of people find direction in quieter ways and ways that are more collective and less bringing of attention to oneself.


[00:09:46] Jasper: This concludes our three bonus minisodes. We’re going to take a week off, and we’ll be back in your podcast queue two weeks from now with the first episode of season three. We’re so excited to have the chance to tell more of Antioch’s stories. [music]

For full show notes as well as transcripts, prior episodes, and more, visit our website, The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University. Our editor is Lauren Instenes. A special thanks to Karen Hamilton and Melinda Garland. Thank you for spending your time with us today. That’s it for this episode. We hope to see you next time and don’t forget to plant a seed, sow a cause, and win a victory for humanity. from Antioch University this has been The Seed Field Podcast.


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