Speaker: Sandra Waddock

Intellectual Shaman: Healing to Create a Sustainable World

An intellectual shaman is an academic or other professional who takes on the three roles of the traditional indigenous shaman: healer, connector, and sense-maker -- or someone who makes sense of the world in the interest of the greater good. The intellectual shaman takes on this role to mediate between disciplines, ideas and theories and make sense of them all for others. This label thus not only describes those Sandra Waddock has interviewed for her book Intellectual Shamans: Management Academics Making a Difference, but is also an apt description of her own role as an academic.

Sandra Waddock is the Galligan Chair of Strategy, Carrol School Scholar of Corporate Responsibility, and Professor of Management at Boston College’s Carrol School of Management. With thirteen published books and nearly 150 papers, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in Collaboration Research by the Cross Sector Social Interaction Symposium and Partnerships Resource Center in 2014, the 2005 Faculty Pioneer Award for External Impact by the Aspen Institute and World Resources Institute, and the Sumner Marcus Award for Outstanding Service from the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management in 2004.

Dr. Waddock’s inspiration comes from connecting ideas and writing about them; working with people who are committed to transforming the world so that there is dignity, well-being, and flourishing for all; and reading about all sorts of things with open curiosity. As an intellectual shaman, she sees things interesting in the world and goes about understanding and connecting them. This is no more evident than in her diverse body of work, which includes subjects such as macro-system change, intellectual shamanism, stewardship of the future, wisdom, corporate responsibility, management education, and multi-sector collaboration. She believes there is a hunger to have permission to do the work that each of us believes will have an impact in the world. Her research and writings give permission and show us the way.

She describes the shaman as looking beyond the problem, so we can do the healing work that we are meant to do. These lovers of knowledge help us to gain wisdom and knowledge and to apply them to our work in order to better the world. They show us how to heal relationships with self, others and the world. They tell us not to wait for leaders, but to act on behalf of ourselves, others and the Earth. Shamans mediate reality in a way that effects change in boundaries. They heal the narrative, also known as the cultural myth, that surrounds the community. They show us how to change that myth by bringing in information from other realms, and how to create a story that expands all boundaries. Finally, they help us make sense of the world as we navigate the myriad crises facing us.

Sandra’s latest books all reflect those traits: Managing Mindfully (with Lawrence Lad and Judith Clair, Global Jesuit Case Series, 2018), Healing the World (2017), Intellectual Shamans (Cambridge, 2014), and Building the Responsible Enterprise (with Andreas Rasche; Stanford, 2012). Other books that see through problems into possible, hopeful solutions and futures are SEE Change: Making the Transition to a Sustainable Enterprise Economy (with Malcom McIntosh; Routledge, 2011) and The Difference Makers:  How Social and Institutional Entrepreneurs Built the Corporate Responsibility Movement (Greenleaf, 2008). As would be true for a shaman, not only does doing the work inspire her, but so also does seeing people’s eyes light up as they ‘get’ an idea or concept.

Sandra has also been drawn into writing and performing music. One of her significant life events was going to Summer Acoustic Music Week (camp) for the first time and singing on stage. She has since released two CD’s -- Full Moon Over Boston Tonight (2010) and That Girl Will Always Be Trouble (2011) -- and she now performs at local open mikes singing her country-flavored original ‘folk’ songs. Her singles can be found at Reverbnation.

Dr. Waddock received her BA from Northeastern University, an MA degree in English Literature from Boston College, and the MBA (1979) and DBA (1985) from Boston University.   Her current teaching includes the Social Issues in Management (graduate business in society) course.  She has also taught Strategic Management, and a senior Capstone course entitled Leadership and Mindfulness.

Dr. Waddock lives as a shaman, an intellectual who shares her gift to push an agenda of change, responsibility and sustainability. Rather than throw our hands up in despair, she advises us to be ordinary difference-makers and actors for our common good. Through her music, stories, writings, and research, she is showing us the way through problems, helping us heal old narratives, and make sense of our world so there is dignity in all. 

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