I hadnt dared hope for something so ambitious. I thought it would be best to start small and then build up whereas, in fact, we started big. Then Marion left, and I had to get a new proposal together. I put it to the head of the Graduate School, and she secured agreement from the College Deputy Director and the Director within hours. It then took us two years to sort out the details, what with delays, people leaving, and so on. I suppose a lot of the responsibility as well as the pushing and shoving rested on my shoulders because I was on both the Sophia Steering Committee and in the college, so I was the point of overlap.
I also set the academic parameters by coming up with the idea of cultural astronomy. The term cultural astronomy is one that I invented. I used it as the subtitle for Culture and Cosmos, the historical journal I started in , on the basis that the study of astronomy-in-culture has been developing, in a small way, in American universities amongst individual academics. However, in , I found an essay on cultural astronomy dating back to , written by Nicholas Saunders and Clive Ruggles, who is now Archoastronomy Professor at Leicester University.
I guess the step from astronomy-in-culture to cultural astronomy is not such a big one! For me, astrology exists within a cultural framework that allows us to look at the sky, encourages certain perceptions of the stars, and uses the planets to tell stories. I wanted it broaden it and enable us to look much further than most definitions of astrology allow. By bringing in the idea of cultural astronomy and astrology, we could have people studying solar myths amongst the Japanese, astral imagery in the paintings of Joan Mir, the cultural significance of the space race, or the relationship between photographs of the Earth from the Moon and environmental activism.
So, the whole concept of the study of cultural astronomy and astrology as a package is one that I started. I think, so far, its worked out to be highly stimulating. The wonderful thing about the academic process is that we are constantly being challenged to answer new questions.
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The language you use is disputed, and your assumptions are overturned. For the first lot of papers, in the opening term, Michael York asked the students to do two things: to define cultural astronomy and not to mention astrology until the end of the paper. That really got the students thinking and was quite a difficult assignment. What Ive learnt about teaching the MA at Bath Spa is that, while theres an element of providing information about the history of astrology, about scientific research into astrology and the human relationship to the cosmos, the essence of it is teaching people to think.
That, for me, is what is so wonderful, because the more you learn to think, the more you can begin to be free from the presiding myths of your culture. NC: They overlapped. I was involved in developments at Kepler from around when Maggie Nalbandian, famous as one of the originators of Kepler, asked me if I would teach history for the college. Over the next few years, I was involved in a small amount of preparation. Things really got going in late , when Demetra George, Rob Hand, and I were asked to set up the first-term syllabus for Kepler College.
This is being capably handled by Cathy Coleman, the college president, supported by our excellent deans, Lee Lehman and Dennis Harness. Its been extraordinary to be involved with Kepler College as well. It was fantastic to be in at the beginning.
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I remember being picked up at the Seattle airport by a member of the local astrology group and driving into Seattle and getting this strange kind of sinking feeling half panic and half excited anticipation that we were about to launch a degree in astrological studies.
I was not just going to a conference to give some lectures and then disappearing.
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On about the third day, Demetra, Rob, and I all realised that something incredible was happening. That something was also highly revolutionary for astrology as well; we knew we were working the students so hard that we were going to turn out graduates of astrology who were extremely wellinformed and that this would have a ripple effect throughout the astrological world.
And then Lee Lehman arrived to give the first public guest lecture and start planning the second term, and we realised that we four had, between us, pretty much every aspect of astrology covered. It was a most wonderful moment, enhanced by an astonishing degree of utterly ego-less collaboration. Kepler, like Bath Spa, is also an academic college: Its not a vocational school.
In the first year, we teach the history of astrology. After that, the students do learn astrological techniques, but they learn them in an academic context. So, they are expected to know where the techniques came from, who devised them, and how to evaluate and compare them. In the second term of the second year, there is a wide-ranging introduction to modern astrological techniques, taught by Georgia Stathis and Bruce Scofield.
In the third term, Demetra George teaches Hellenistic astrology, Dennis Harness teaches Vedic astrology, and the students are encouraged to compare and contrast these systems. By the end of that second year, the students have an evaluative and comprehensive knowledge of modern astrology, Hellenistic astrology, and Vedic astrology they are getting a technical education, but its within a critical academic framework.
History of astrology
DG: One difference between the two colleges is that Bath Spa is sited in a building and is part of a university, whereas Kepler floats. NC: Thats right. Kepler is an independent college, and Bath Spa exists within an established institution; each position has advantages and disadvantages. Kepler isnt part of an existing university deciding when its going to teach and where its going to teach and questioning its budget. It has a Board of Directors but Cathy Coleman, the president, does the essential day-to-day administration with a huge amount of work also being done by Joanne Wickenburg, the Chairman of the Board.
At Bath Spa, we have the great advantage of being part of an established institution with marketing facilities, a library, a huge support structure, cleaners, technicians, admissions clerks - a huge infrastructure.
Kepler currently has about 16 students in the first year of study and about 40 students spread over all three years. After the college has been in operation for a certain period of time, students are then eligible for loans. That will take away some of the financial pressure.
As far as the cultural phenomenon is concerned, it is interesting that Kepler College and Bath Spa University College have come to fruition in roughly the same time period and Im wondering if the link might be the entry of Pluto into Sagittarius. I don't mean that Pluto in Sagittarius has made these things happen, but in astrological literature, there was talk about Pluto in Sagittarius in terms of astrology going into universities.
We may be looking at a fine example of astrologers looking at something in the sky, then deciding to do something positive, and succeeding: a self-fulfilling prophecy of the best kind. I am a great believer in education because I think that, if we have minds, then we should use them. Ive gained a huge amount from returning to student life and have benefited enormously from having an institutional framework in which I can receive constructive criticism and support for my work. That has transformed my studies over the last few years.
Im evangelical about both Kepler and Bath Spa because they are teaching the virtues of critical thought and encouraging students to question their ideas, learn how to effectively communicate their thinking and raise the calibre of their perceptions. Yet, above all, its the collective enterprise and shared experience in both colleges which make them so valuable.
DG: Nick, thank you so much for your time and your insights. I know the whole global astrological community wishes the Sophia Centre at Bath Spa University College and Kepler College many prolific and bountiful years in setting new benchmarks in the world of astrology. See the Astrological Journal, Vol. For information about the availability of this book, please e-mail bwh caol. For a complete survey of all major U. Read Free For 30 Days. Description: Campion Gunzberg. Flag for inappropriate content. For Later.
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