Nancy Watterson, PhD
Professor, American Studies
Nancy L. Watterson, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Global Learning and Professor of American Studies. She is also Faculty Director of the Balance Learning Community and served for 14 years as Co-director of the inaugural Living and Learning Community, Voices of Justice. Her areas of scholarship focus mindfulness and movement, ethnography, and cultural studies.
Dr. Watterson’s aim is to encourage transformational learning that promotes mindful action in personal, communal, social, and professional contexts. Her focus on mindfulness is grounded in her own experiential training and ongoing ethnographic research in Zhong Xin Dao/I Liq Chuan: The Martial Art of Awareness. Students appreciate learning from her strategies for grounding themselves in the present and grounding their studies in well-researched contexts.
Committed to connecting her scholarship to her pedagogy of direct experience, Dr. Watterson invites learners to develop their awareness and cultivate themselves through interoception, contemplation and reflection, movement-based practices, and cooperative partner exercises. From this foundation, students expand and deepen their connections with others, the environment, and the world. Through participation in experiential learning, students demonstrate their growing understanding of how important awareness and clarity are to every aspect of their “education of the heart.” Having received multiple awards for her teaching, Dr. Watterson’s approach to valuing her students’ myriad ways of knowing and her commitment to process over product has proven to be a very effective praxis.
Watterson sees intercultural exchange as the heart of both local and global learning. Her teaching philosophy as well as her own practice of embodied learning and leadership focus on linking international research with teaching in and beyond the classroom. Partaking in ethnographic research has brought her to study in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali and Bulgaria, as well as across the United States.
Watterson has presented and published numerous articles on critical thinking, writing, and social justice; the creation of inter-disciplinary, integrative curricula for Learning Communities; the intersection of faith, justice, and civic learning; community-based partnerships co-authored with colleagues from Cabrini’s Science and Psychology departments as well as community partners; and entries on “Activism” and “Community-Based Research” in Folklore: an Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art. Her most recent efforts involve expanding the training and professional development capacities of using the worldwide curriculum of Zhong Xin Dao/I Liq Chuan: The Martial Art of Awareness.
Watterson also coordinates the 1976 Fellowship Faculty Learning Community, and serves on the editorial board for the Body Studies Journal, on ad hoc advisory committees for the Journal of Folklore & Education, and on the Board of Directors for the non-profit International I-Liq Chuan Association Ltd.
Watterson earned a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in Folklore and Folklife; an MA in English language and literature from the University of Michigan, and a BA in English from Oakland University, with a concentration in film aesthetics and history.