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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

5 - Connector


Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together.

Anaïs Nin

Though knowledge itself increasingly ignores boundaries between fields, professors are apt to organize their pedagogy around the methods and history of their academic subculture rather than some coherent topic in the world.

Steven Pinker

Underpinning and enhancing the healing orientation of the shaman discussed in the last chapter are two other key roles, as articulated by Frost and Egri: mediator of reality (or boundary-spanner), which I call connector, and sensemaker. Connecting means linking ideas, theories, methodologies, and pedagogies across traditional boundaries. Connecting inherently means making links. The success of intellectual shamans comes in part because they see holistically and are able to make links that others have not yet made.

By their nature, then, intellectual shamans cross boundaries to find new ideas, insights, and practices – and then make new connections. Seeing holistically, they are seldom content with the current state of things in their intellectual or other aspects of their work lives – i.e., they see where healing is needed or holes exist that new connections will help mend. They integrate and bring together ideas in new ways, so they are constantly pushing at the edges of existing (e.g., disciplinary) boundaries to find new ways of thinking, being, and acting in the world. They cross into new realms to find out how things are done there and bring back that information to their own discipline, providing insights and new perspectives. This capacity is what Frost and Egri call shamans’ ability to mediate reality, or, more simply, boundary-spanning. I call it connecting.