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MA in Health Arts and Sciences

Bridging Nature, Culture and Healing

Bridging Nature, Culture and Healing

The MA in Health Arts & Sciences (MA HAS) is an interdisciplinary program founded on the principle that community health, personal health and the health of the natural world are three dimensions of the same whole. Healing, germane to a whole person, is only possible within the context of establishing a healthy social and natural environment that includes one’s family, culture and the ecological region where you live--and beyond. Our vision and philosophy are based on three themes:

  • Nature: Study of natural, ecological and biological health to recognize, understand and protect the synergistic relationship between human health and so-called natural systems, from the human body to the earth.
  • Culture: Study of the broader socio-cultural dimension of health and healing, mindful of diverse values, biases, and practices that create healthier cultures and improve social health.
  • Healing: Study of diverse healing philosophies, theories and practices, enabling an integration of multiple perspectives and approaches with respect for and an understanding of the complexities of practices that flow in and out of cultures in which they developed.

The MA in Health Arts & Sciences (MA HAS) degree requires 48 credit hours (four semesters) or 36 credit hours (a three-semester study track for professionals who meet specific admissions criteria - click here for more information on the 36 credit option).

Students may undertake theoretical and practical study in such areas as community and environmental health, women’s health and midwifery, men’s health, botanical medicine and ethnobotany, nutritional health, expressive arts, body and movement therapies, integrative health systems, integrative nursing, mind-body studies, ecopsychology, and cross-cultural healing.

Our graduates become health educators, consultants and counselors, community health education specialists, organizers and activists, environmental health specialists, holistic therapists, integrative health nurses, health researchers, writers, and combinations of these practices.


The MA HAS residency functions as a supportive and expansive face-to-face social environment whose purpose is to define and support the work of the semester. MA HAS students work with their faculty advisor, network with other students, attend workshops that address degree requirements, develop academic skills, and explore a range of health arts and sciences issues and practices. Keynote presentations offered during residencies investigate the cultural and/or ecological context of healing.  Past topics have included  “Embracing an Ethic of Care,” “Healing as if the Earth Mattered,” and “Healing with the Natural and Sacred World.” The residency also provides a place to share hidden aspirations within a positive learning climate where “we can think the world together.”

Experiential studies pursued within the low-residency MA HAS program might include teaching classes or engaging in outreach efforts in such places as holistic centers, public schools, youth programs, hospitals, and natural world environments. Some students develop websites, publish books or articles, or begin organizations. At the culmination of their course of study, students synthesize their work in a final project that may take the form of a community outreach project or encompass traditional scholarship, depending on the interests of the student.


Students graduating with an MA in Health Arts and Sciences will have successfully accomplished the following:
  • Clearly articulated their own health philosophy in relationship to multiple cultural views and critically evaluated their own values, biases, ethics, and orientation to health;
  • Completed an exploration of at least one (or more) health-promoting modality as it can be applied to the well-being of members in a particular community;
  • Demonstrated a thorough understanding of the scientific basis of their specific area(s) of study by being able to: a) identify and examine those science- based studies fundamental to their inquiry, and b) transmit their science-based knowledge to others;
  • Demonstrated an understanding of the broader social and ecological context of health in a community particular to their inquiry - evaluating, for example, how particular social, political, ecological, and/or economic issues affect the health status of that community;
  • Explored self-care and self-awareness practices through a reflective and active engagement with their own self-healing processes;
  • Demonstrated and understood how to find, read, and evaluate professional research relevant to their area of study;
  • When applicable to their particular inquiry, demonstrated the ability to thoughtfully and critically integrate original primary research into their study;
  • Conducted and written a literature review germane to their area(s) of study;
  • Completed a final thesis project that builds on fulfillment of the above guidelines (scholarly paper or applied project with an accompanying context/ process paper, possibly addressing a specific health problem or issue in a particular community).

Faculty Testimonials:

“It is a joy to work at Goddard as a faculty member and witness the love, commitment, attention, and expertise devoted to nurturing students in their explorations built upon their questions. The students too bring with them remarkable skills, experience, curiosity, and creativity. The atmosphere at a residency vibrates with humor, play, companionship, critical thinking, searching, and concern for the world. There is a lively enthusiasm for each student as an individual, a scholar, and an actor in the process of transformation of self and the world. It is a community animated by shared passion and respect, a community of reflection and support toward students’ ideas, discoveries, and professional development. It is a community that earnestly strives to think, feel, and act out of the values it holds dear.

As an eco-psychologist I am ever in search of models for healthier ways of living and perceiving that will help us to restore our deep connectedness with the rich, complex, living universe, which is the source of our vitality. I see such a model, as an ongoing co-creative process, at Goddard. I see it in the dynamic appreciation of difference, with the rich panoply of possibility that provides, and in the recognition that, while each is unique, we are all one. And I see it in the consciousness people carry to understanding conflict, with a determination to develop responses together--in our words, our works, our relationships, and our internal dialogue--that will help us to contribute to individual, social, and global health and evolution."  --- Health Arts and Sciences Faculty Member Susan Pearson


Some adult learning theorists say that all learning is change. But, not all change is transformative. Those of us who have considerable experience in settings committed to meaningful, emancipatory education recognize that learning at Goddard is transformative. One of the primary reasons for this is the unusual nature of the mentoring relationships established between learners and advisors. These connections allow for deep immersion in specific areas of inquiry­--with reliable, supple and sturdy support.~ Witnessing a learner’s vision taking shape is such a deeply humane and hopeful venture that this kind of experience can be life changing for both parties. We, as faculty, guide our communities of learners, individually and together, to experiences of “moral relatedness”­--a “mutual and respectful dialogue” that honors lived experience, personally meaningful inquiries­--that are grounded in critical reflection and connected with the larger world.

We invoke Dewey, Friere, Lindeman, Knowles, hooks, Lorde, Rich, Perez, Aragon--any number of influences­--for this kind of learning. And the result makes for internal and external events of such profound dynamism, creativity, compassion, rigor, and vitality­ that our graduates, our faculty, our staff, our administration and our trustees develop a loyalty that is evident to all who encounter us. And those who have such experiences begin to envision other places and situations that could benefit from a “moral relatedness” that can sustain social growth and global changes that are also just and humane.~ This is mentorship of the highest order; learners invite us into some of the richest work of their lives and we are all changed in profound and deeply meaningful ways." --- Health Arts and Sciences Faculty Member S.B. Sowbel


Locations Offered: 
Plainfield, VT