An Independent Study Opportunity with Susan Thomas

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Date(s) - September 4, 2020
All Day

The Southern Ontario Training Group (SOTG) announces, for Fall 2020, An Independent Study Opportunity With Susan Thomas of the Training Institute at Syracuse University

Current restrictions to control the spread of the novel corona virus have made typical workshops offered by the SOTG not practical or wise. Many kinds of training can now be accessed via video conferencing and the SOTG is sponsoring some of these.  The SOTG is  also presenting this unique training opportunity with Susan Thomas in a format that does not involve the internet.  This event will appeal to those who wish to have individual guidance in refining their response to complex issues, particularly those issues that relate to devalued people and service to others.

Susan Thomas is the long-time Training Coordinator at the Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership, and Change Agentry at Syracuse University.  The Institute was founded by the service leader and reformer Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger in 1973, and headed by him until his death in 2011.  Ms. Thomas worked with him for almost all those years, and is now carrying on much of his teaching.  But for reasons of ideology, pedagogy, and practicality, high-tech and internet-based teaching is not the way the Training Institute conducts its work.

Therefore,  the SOTG is offering a way to study with and learn from Susan Thomas, but not in a typical workshop setting, nor via an internet video link-up. Participants will work on their own project or topic with the support and guidance of Ms. Thomas. Contact between participants and Ms. Thomas will be via telephone, mail,  and expedited mail. It will also be possible for participants to email materials to an SOTG address. The envisioned opportunity consists of the following options:

  • Working with Ms. Thomas, participants select or are assigned a module or topic, on which they will develop their own position paper or presentation of an agreed-upon length. During the development of this project, Ms Thomas will guide the work of the participant through extended telephone conversations and through feedback on written work. Once the project is advanced enough, the participant sends it in writing for Ms. Thomas’s review, and may “present” it to her by phone.  Thomas provides critique, the participant revises and re-presents it and the cycle of critique and revision continues as time permits.
  • Working with Ms. Thomas, participants select or are assigned a topic or question that they will study through reading and through phone discussion with Ms. Thomas. After some study, participants will develop a written overview and analysis of the topic or question.  They  then send in their response in writing, to Ms. Thomas, who will  engage in discussion and critique/review of their responses. A cycle of critique and revision continues as time permits.
  • Other project proposals will be considered.

FORMAT:  As noted, much of the teaching and learning in this project will be done by participants on their own, at their own home, and by Ms. Thomas where she is.  Contact between participants and Ms. Thomas will primarily be by telephone, though papers may also be sent by mail (or an expedited delivery method).  It will also be possible for participants to send materials electronically to an SOTG-related email, for forwarding to Ms. Thomas.
DATES:  The time limit for any of the above options is three months.  Projects would begin in mid-September 2020, and continue until mid-December 2020, at the latest.
APPLICATION:  As this opportunity is a part of a Strategic Program Initiative grant, it is open to Ontarians. Participation in this opportunity is limited in number.  Serious learners who desire to participate must apply, and applicants must have been to at least one of the following events:
A full-length SRV workshop or course (participation in a PASSING workshop would be an asset but is not required), OR
a 5-day workshop on Threats to the Value of Life and Crafting a Coherent Response, OR
a 7-day workshop on How to Function With Personal Moral Coherency in a Disfunctional World, OR
a 3-day workshop on The Philosophy of Personalism and Its Implications.

Candidates will be notified about the status of their applications by September 9, 2020..

FEE: While the SOTG will be subsidizing a large portion of the costs involved in providing this unique learning opportunity, we do ask that participants pay what they can between $50. and $300.
NOTE: The amount one can pay will NOT be considered in the determination of whether an application is accepted.

ADDITIONAL COSTS: Participants will be responsible for their phone and mail costs.

To apply: Interested parties are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and no later than Friday September 4, 2020.  Please submit the attached application form to Peg Jenner at

Study Opportunity Application Form