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Holistic Health Studies Program celebrates 30-year anniversary

Early faculty and founders of the program Mary Cowden and Mary Broderick joined founding director Janet Dahlem at the anniversary celebration.
Early faculty and founders of the program Mary Cowden and Mary Broderick joined founding director Janet Dahlem at the anniversary celebration.
Photo by Sharon Rolenc

St. Catherine University launched a Holistic Health Studies Program in 1984 to advance integrative health and wellness health care – eight years before the National Institutes of Health established an office to study complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

That ground-breaking program is now in its 30th year. Program Director Laurie Anderson Sathe led a celebration involving alumnae, faculty, staff and friends on Friday, May 8.

Early leader and community builder

The Holistic Health Studies program was a leader in building cross-cultural partnerships drawing from the knowledge and wisdom of community health organizations and practitioners. One early collaborator was the Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center, where students in the class, "Culture as a Resource in Health and Healing," learned from both cultural elders and St. Kate’s faculty.

Holistic Health Associate Professor Janet Dahlem, who served as the first program director, advised Twin Cities health care organizations and research groups as they explored complementary and alternative medicine. She also provided expert testimony to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2001.

The program also collaborated with such organizations as the Minnesota Holistic Nurses Association and the American Homeopathy Nurses Assocation, among others, to hold conferences and bring national leaders to the Twin Cities to create a community of knowledgeable practitioners.

Development and growth for the 21st century

As part of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, the program continues to lead in the emerging model of healthcare that draws from both traditional medicine and cross-cultural holistic healing to promote health from a mind, body and spiritual perspective.

The Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies was launched in 2004 as a multidisciplinary co-ed program and focuses on health and healing based on an integrative health model. Students in the master's program design and complete their own collaborative research project that springs from personal interests and contributes to professional development. It concludes with a practicum and integrative seminar in a community setting.

A dual-degree program option was launched in 2006 that gives students the opportunity to pursue masters' degrees in holistic health studies and social work as a collaboration with the joint program at St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas.

The Holistic Health Studies program attracts students from a variety of professions – both healthcare and non-healthcare based. The flexible, customizable program gives students the ability to tailor a program of study that contributes maximum value to their professional and personal growth.

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May 8, 2015 by Julie Michener

See also: Alumnae/i, Faculty, Healthcare, Students