Current Year

The 2018 Nevola Symposium on Spirituality and Health was held Tuesday, June 19,  at Colby College in Waterville ME. The theme was Civil Discourse: The Outward and Inward Work of Bridging Divides and Finding Peace in the Face of Differences.

We presented the 2018 Symposium in collaboration with the National Institute for Civil Discourse, and our keynote presenter was the NICD Executive Director, Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, PhD.

The Symposium

We live in a time when the everyday differences and occasional woundedness and estrangement among people has been magnified by a toxic environment of polarization.  Given the pivotal importance of meaningful and harmonious relationships to health and well-being, we see this separateness and estrangement as a significant spiritual and public health issue.  The challenge, then, is to better understand how to:

  • best engage difficult conversations with other people?
  • relate to people… patients, and anyone else… who have very different values?
  • balance compassionate understanding and forthrightness?
  • orchestrate or support reconciliation among estranged people?
  • find peace within ourselves as we experience powerful feelings about differences… and, perhaps, allow those feelings to energize meaningful action?

The 2018 Symposium was developed with such questions in mind. We featured large-group sessions, 15 interactive workshops, and our customary good food, music, exhibits, and book sales.  As always, it was a great opportunity for meaningful personal experiences, networking and personal refreshment.  Workshop details may be found in the  Nevola 2018 Brochure. Handouts are available below.

About NICD

The National Institute for Civil Discourse (, is a nonpartisan center, based at the University of Arizona, that engages conversation, research, and advocacy about constructive dialogue in public and private arenas.  It was begun as a collaborative effort in the Tucson community in the wake of the Gabby Giffords shootings.  Along with Ms. Giffords, its board of directors and advisors include Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Sandra Day O’Connor, Colin Powell, Robert Reich, Olympia Snowe, Scott Simon, and a remarkable collection of other people from government, business and charitable organizations.

NICD has developed a number of initiatives to promote civil dialogue and constructive discourse.  An especially creative example is an automated text-messaging training program that helps to structure dialogue among friends or neighbors who hold divergent positions about important issues.  Another of their initiatives is a website that provides specific tools, discussion guides, and resources that anyone can download, that have been created to support communities that want to revive civility.  See  Notably, Maine is one of four states nationally in which NICD has focused their community initiatives.

Dr. Lukensmeyer is a nationally-prominent leader in the work of bringing people together for thoughtful and honorable dialogue.  She previously served as Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, an award-winning nonprofit organization that promoted nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through the development of innovative public policy tools and strategies. During her tenure, AmericaSpeaks engaged more than 165,000 people and hosted events across all 50 states and throughout the world. Dr. Lukensmeyer formerly served as Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff from 1993-94 and on the National Performance Review where she steered internal management and oversaw government-wide reforms. She was the Chief of Staff to Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste from 1986-91, becoming the first woman to serve in this capacity. She earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University.

Handouts are available for these sessions (click on the session name):

Morning Keynote: Incivility and Political Dysfunction: What Can We Do About It? – C. Lukensmeyer, PhD

Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness: Pathways toward Inner and Outer Peace — L. Abbas, DO

Listening to Understand (or Learning to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable) – J. Allen, PhD

Improving Civil Discourse through Shared Community Stories – S. Durney, MLS

Experience a Make Shift Coffee House – C. Freshley

Preparing Elected Officials to Lead Civilly – C. Graeve, R. Katz, M. Pouliot

Community Conversations that Create Positive Engagement – M. Hews

Afternoon Keynote: Coming Together to Explore What’s Next – C. Lukensmeyer, M. Meachem, C. Graeve, M. Hews

Connecting with Immigrants in Central Maine: The Capital Area New Mainers Project – C. Myers Asch, PhD

The Inward Work of Civil Discourse – F. Craigie, PhD

Learn to Use Text, Talk, Revive Civility to Foster Broader Discussions – M. Meachem

The 33rd annual Nevola Symposium will take place next June. We’ll begin to present information about plans around the start of the new year. If you would like to receive updates, you can send an email to Ann Byron.

Best regards,


Frederic C. Craigie, Jr., PhD
Founder/Chair, Nevola Symposium
Visiting Associate Professor, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine

[updated 7-30-2018]