On Campus Program

Radical Listening Narrative Medicine for a Polarized World

Listening across great divides allows us to understand and empathize with others. When we grasp the foundation of another’s beliefs by receiving their accounts of themselves, polarization gives way to understanding and acceptance. Radical listening is a first step toward healing the destructive divides that afflict our country and our world. WHAT YOU’LL EXPERIENCE
• How to recognize your story by telling it to another
• Creative writing toward discovery
• The radical act of witnessing another’s suffering

This intensive training brings together leaders in psychology, medicine, the humanities, social activism, and the creative arts to inspire and equip us to take radical action in the face of rising racism, sexism, classism, and nationalism. Highlighting many levels of listening, from personal to public, the program includes activities such as

  • Plenary and small-group presentations
  • Creative arts and cultural revelations
  • Writing for discovery
  • Meditation and nature contemplation
  • Dyadic work toward deep knowledge of self and others
  • Mobilizing for activism.

Several groups committed to the rise of radical listening toward social justice are coming together to offer this unique program: Columbia Narrative Medicine’s healing through stories, Carol Gilligan’s Listening Guides, Narrative 4’s story exchange for empathy, Open Society Foundation’s commitment to global justice, and Narativ’s storytelling have combined to create a powerful synthesis of action. Come discover new ways to achieve social justice and personal healing as you learn the art of radical listening.

Read an interview with Rita Charon on radical listening. 

Note Bring clothing for walks outdoors to appreciate the beauty of the Kripalu’s trails and hiking paths; and yoga clothing if you plan to take yoga classes during your stay; and swimsuits for dips in the lake.

“The workshop was challenging, fun, enjoyable, and very valuable. Everyone really showed up authentically, with an openness to be raw and vulnerable. It was beautiful, powerful, and a model for what’s possible.” —Past program participant

“I attended this workshop to become a better doctor, friend, daughter, and storyteller. And to meet other like-minded people, learn from their experience and expertise. These expectations were met and exceeded!” —Past program participant

“What I found most thoughtfully constructed was the multiplicity of modes: small groups you could return to and build sharing; ability to encounter—truly encounter—many other people; of course, the gift of both introduction to compelling and useful ideas and (key!) the time to try them on and out. We could easily do a week.” —Past program participant

Program at a Glance

Yoga Experience
Suitable For
Program Theme
All Self-Discovery

Documentary: Guns and Empathy


Rita Charon, MD, PhD, is a general internist and literary scholar who originated the field of narrative medicine.

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Carol Gilligan, PhD, is the author of In a Different Voice, described by Harvard University Press as “the little book that started a revolution.”

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Paul Browde, MD, is a psychiatrist, storyteller, and couples’ guide who cofounded Narativ Inc., which teaches the art of listening and storytelling.

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Lipi Roy, MD, is an internal physician board-certified in addiction medicine, and serves as clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health.

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Noor Marie Jones-Bey, a full time graduate student in the sociology of education at NYU Steinhardt, is interested in educating for the purpose of liberation and humanity.

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Ssanyu Birigwa, a Reiki master, meditator, and yogi, graduated from the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine program at Columbia in 2016 and now teaches on the program faculty.

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Jacqueline Cruz, Med, is a doctoral candidate in sociology of education at NYU Steinhardt with interest in gender inequality in higher education.

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Lillian de Jesus holds a master of social work from NYU and is director of the Bronx, New York, programs for Narrative 4.

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Brett Davidson is director of the media and narratives division of the Open Society Public Health Program, where his work focuses on changing long-held social narratives that impact public health.

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