Saybrook University challenges what institutional education looks like

By Cassandra Morrison

Saybrook University has thrived for nearly 50 years because of its commitment to explore the unknown. To do things a bit differently from the status quo in higher education. To advocate and pursue avenues for clinically effective, but maybe not as well-known, solutions.

Saybrook transcends what being a university means. It challenges convention.

Saybrook is not simply a university; it’s much more than that—it’s a community. You aren’t just a student; you are a problem-solver. Our faculty are visionaries in their fields, and our alumni are trailblazers, setting a new path for the future. Our community is diverse and unique, devoted to making substantive, holistic changes.

Saybrook has provided a launchpad for many to address the challenges our world faces. Those in our community know how special and unique it is. We spoke with some community members to see how Saybrook challenges and impacts its world—personally and professionally.


Alumna Arielle Dance, Ph.D. studied Mind-Body Medicine.

Saybrook taught me to adjust my learning style and practice self-care daily. My program implemented meditation, mindfulness practices, movement, and self-care as routine assignments. These were perfect as I adjusted to a new lifestyle and learned life-work balance.

I’m often asked how I have built relationships with my peers in classes, since our work is done primarily online. The residential conferences and the webinar/video platforms made Saybrook and my cohort tangible—more than just an online platform. It was amazing to see the same familiar faces each semester—year after year. We each learned that you have to work for you and believe in your worth to succeed, which applies to all aspects of life. Saybrook’s community will stretch you, challenge you, and excite you.


Luann Fortune, LMT, Ph.D., is coordinator of the Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine: Mindful Leadership in Healthcare at Saybrook’s College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences.

I am now in my eighth year on faculty at Saybrook. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to contribute to the education and scholarship in my field. I came to Saybrook as an integrative health care practitioner with a Ph.D. and a belief that health care needed to be redressed. During my tenure, I have developed numerous courses, taught across the university, and worked with scores of graduate students in the community. I am blessed with brilliant and committed colleagues, and we have collaborated to grow and improve our programs and learning experience as the field evolves. My Saybrook years have not only challenged me to develop a stronger voice of knowledge and advocacy but have also made me a better educator.

When asked what I do, I tell people that I help adults self-actualize. These adults are our students, committed to improving health care to optimize their contributions through higher education and scholarship. In the College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences (CIMHS), we respect that our students are already accomplished professionals with demanding lives. Adult learners have unique needs and expectations but also deserve instructional rigor with content supported by the latest evidence. To that end, we have created programs that build on perspectives from professional and life experience that connect applications to cutting-edge research related to integrative health care. My students have repeatedly integrated their professional skills into their scholarship, producing research and accomplishments that impact the field. In some cases, today’s students will be the scholars we will read tomorrow. You might discover that, when you have finished your Saybrook work, the real work begins and in the process you have changed yourself.


Molly Stillwell has an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Psychology from Saybrook and is currently a Ph.D. student in Saybrook’s Transformative Social Change program.

Saybrook has challenged me to question the world around me in intentional and meaningful ways that have helped me grow throughout all areas of my life. Stepping outside of the traditional brick and mortar university was the first step of this process and, in turn, the hybrid design has led me to become more self-motivated and responsible for my learning.

Saybrook’s model has allowed me to travel the world and experience not only the benefits of an academic education, but also real world, immersive cultural experiences that have enriched my life in countless ways. As a result, I feel that the Saybrook community is supporting me in becoming not only a well-educated individual but also someone who has the confidence and professionalism to generate success out of that education.

The community available at Saybook is robust. I have found great support from both students and faculty. The potential lack of face-to-face community was one of my biggest concerns, but I have made several connections with amazing people who have become lifelong friends. The Transformative Social Change community has been, in my experience, the ideal place for finding those connections. I have never heard more people profess a sense of belonging by “finding their tribe” as I have in this space, and I could not agree more.


Drake Spaeth, Psy.D., is an existential-humanistic psychology expert and the chair of the Humanistic and Clinical Psychology department.

For many years, I worked well within my comfort zone as a professor, drawing upon a love of teaching and a natural talent for it, enjoying a well-earned reputation for my eccentricity and creativity. When an opportunity for me to grow into a department chair at Saybrook in the middle of my life knocked loudly, I experienced it as an invitation to play an important role in the continued evolution of existential-humanistic psychology, as well as building upon of the legacy of the Old Saybrook Conference.

We live in an age that calls for social justice and a willingness to address global challenges, and we get to play a key part in constructing an educational paradigm that is intended to prepare students for this critical work in the world. I feel that the world has never been more in need of what the Saybrook community has to offer. All of Saybrook’s programs prepare students to be midwives of transformation at the individual and relational level, locally and globally—as healers, therapists, artists, philosophers, teachers, scholars, activists, and business leaders. We prepare students to address the bio-psycho-socio-spiritual impact of dehumanization and environmental devastation. Our community members fully live Rumi’s words: “Let the Beauty we love, be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

Discover the ways that Saybrook University can help you challenge convention. If you are interested in learning more about Saybrook’s programs, fill out the form below to request more information.