Promoting a Sense of Solidarity
“I always believe that a university is not merely a place where skills and knowledge are produced and disseminated,” Monica Madyaningrum, a member of the Faculty of Psychology at Sanata Dharma University, said in a recent interview. “Recalling my own experiences during my undergraduate years, I really valued the opportunities that I got to develop my social, moral, and ethical consciousness through various academic and non-academic activities.” Her words underscore the lasting benefits of whole person education. “I might have forgotten most of the subjects I studied during my undergraduate years,” Dr. Madyaningrum said, “but the life values and principles that I learned during those years have certainly stayed with me up until now.”
Dr. Madyaningrum’s area of expertise is community psychology, which she describes as “a field that has always been interested in developing and promoting psychological theories and practices which are responsive to the needs and struggles of the oppressed and marginalized groups in our society.” It’s a receptive platform for whole person education. “Teaching community psychology has created an opportunity for me to promote a sense of solidarity through learning activities that connect students with the disadvantaged groups in our society,” she explained. “Such a connection is particularly important to foster awareness of the privileges that we have and how we might have – consciously or unconsciously – maintained our privileges at the costs of others’ suffering.”
Those are big lessons, and Dr. Madyaningrum relies upon active learning techniques to help students internalize the values and principles associated with them. She found validation for her approach – as well as ideas for improvement – in the United Board’s Whole Person Education Academy and through her participation in an online course offered by Harvard University’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. “Most lecturers in my university were mainly trained and prepared as researchers or experts in their discipline, and less equipped in terms of our pedagogical knowledge and skills,” she said, so these two faculty development experiences were valuable.
Universities often stress concrete, measurable, and observable indicators of students’ learning, but Dr. Madyaningrum also appreciates longer-term, qualitative indicators. “Witnessing how our alumni thrive in areas which reflect their social and ethical consciousness is a rewarding experience,” she said. “It always becomes a moment of pride when we learn that our alumni consciously chose a road less taken because they want to put into practice the ideal of fostering solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized.”