Transforming Through the Power of Perspective

By Katia Petersen

It often takes a transformative experience to reveal the water we swim in, and for me, it happened when the idyllic island of Cyprus where I grew up was descended upon by war. I was just a teenager, and I couldn’t understand how it was possible to lose so much practically overnight. The question that really burned in my mind was, “Why?”

When I asked my elders, the answer revolved around many years of mistrust, fear, anger and survival. The younger children that I cared for, however, had a much different viewpoint, not knowing about the larger world of politics and dynamics of economies. While they were sad for the losses we all experienced, they were also curious, hopeful, and unattached to preconceptions of the world.

This experience taught me that I can choose how to look at the world, and be the author of my own story. It ignited a passion in me for empowering young people with this ability that I recognized as the power of perspective. Led by a desire to teach about awareness, relationships, and making a positive difference in the world, I embraced transformative education as my path, and the propagation of worldview literacy as my goal. This path has led me to the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and the co-development of the Worldview Explorations™ (WE) program.

Based in a combination of social and emotional learning studies and more than 40 years of research on consciousness and worldview by IONS, this groundbreaking initiative empowers young people through teaching different ways of knowing, such as information, knowledge and beliefs, attitudes, and inner knowing. Just as there are multiple intelligences, there are many ways of learning and paying attention to what shapes our worldview, and WE utilizes experiential exercises, visual and audio content, dialogue, creativity, and writing to delve into new experiences with openness and a willingness to revise old beliefs when new ideas are presented.

As worldviews change and expand to include larger perspectives, participants develop greater social consciousness, and see with more clarity their role in authoring their futures through awareness, and participating in the greater good.  

The vision of the WE program is a society in which the whole person and the context of a global society are seen as critical elements of education. Our research suggests the most powerful step people can take toward achieving their highest potential is the willingness and ability to understand new perspectives. The WE program fosters the necessary capacity and competency to understand a multitude of perspectives to navigate and thrive in a global society, and our goal is to use it to form the basis of curriculum, not only in alternative schools, but in mainstream education as well.

When our perspective shifts it ignites a transformation within us: a change of heart, turning a new leaf, a sense of empowerment or enlightenment. This is what happened to me on my war-torn island home so many years ago, and this is the power I strive to instill in the next generation through WE.

To learn more about Worldview Explorations, click here.

Katia Petersen, PhD is the Executive Director of Education at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Katia is an author and recognized training expert in school improvement strategies, and integration of social-emotional and academic learning. Her work includes leadership and staff coaching, student and teacher support, as well as parent engagement and community involvement. She has delivered professional development in schools nationwide and to date, Dr. Petersen has trained over 65,000 educators and thousands of parents to enhance school success. Katia utilizes collaborative dialogue to arrive at solutions and action plans with all stakeholders. She has been a visiting professor at the Stanford University School of Education (SUSE), and lecturer at the U of MN.

For a full bio of Katia, click here.

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This article appears in: 2014 Catalyst, Issue 17: Summer of Peace - Compassion, Ebola and 11 Days of Global Unity