Join us for Union Institute & University’s new free Continuing Education Series at the Marlboro Technology Center. Presentations are open to the public and attendees can earn 1 APA CE credit for participation. This is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about Union’s Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling. Bring your lunch. Beverages and dessert will be provided.
Contact Hanna Thurber at Hanna.Thurber@myunion.edu for more information or to RSVP.
February 20, 2015 | 12-1pm
Addiction and the Brain: Neurophysiological Bases of Addiction, Dependency, Tolerance and Withdrawal; Pharmacological Approaches
Presenter: Samuel Liss, Ph.G. Faculty, Union Institute & University
Dependency and addiction are widespread in our society, affecting families, ruining lives, and consuming financial resources. To resolve this epidemic, we must first understand how dependency-causing substances (illicit and otherwise) affect the brain. What are the underlying mechanisms? Why is the epidemic so intractable? This presentation will introduce the basic underlying mechanisms behind addiction, dependency, tolerance and withdrawal. Pharmacological approaches that might benefit the condition(s) will also be discussed.
Sam Liss retired from the “front-bench” aspects of pharmacy many years ago, for the challenges and rewards of teaching in higher education. He is a graduate of Columbia University College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and later completed graduate school at the University of Connecticut where he specialized in psychopharmacology and neurophysiology, and the interface between the two disciplines. He has taught at Vermont Technical College in the nursing curriculum for 15 years, and has served as affiliated faculty at Union Institute & University for six years in the doctoral and master’s programs.
In the early 1970s I heard about a graduate program for adults that affirmed curiosity. It did not reduce the educational process to a number of boring, discrete, and disconnected courses. As I learned more about this innovative process, I knew it was the creative environment I needed to help realize my learning goals. In 1987, I enrolled in Union Institute & University’s Ph.D. program in organizational behavior. To this day, I celebrate the decision as a turning point in my life.
My learning focused on healthy change and the psychological processes involved in this change. Through self-directed reading, research, dialogue, and discussion, I identified and isolated the many resistances within people and organizations, which prevent healthy change. Working with a supportive yet challenging doctoral committee, I researched, documented, and discussed the process in my program summary and dissertation. Being on my own committee helped me observe one member’s reluctance to let go of personal agendas. At first, his resistance kept me from completing the phenomenological research in ethical decision-making. Being the chair, however, empowered me to challenge these resistances and the member moved to a more supportive and collegial position. Finally, with the help of all committee members, the research was strengthened and refined.
During my internship with regional secondary school administrators I gained helpful feedback to become a better public speaker with stronger platform skills. I learned that I didn’t have to be serious all of the time. Teaching and learning is serious business, but often humor can be an effective tool. Humor can lighten the moment, free up the conversation, and help others relax. Relaxed learners are better learners. In fact, when I relaxed I learned more. Encouraging others to set their own goals and develop action plans is part of the way I live my life. This is healthy change. It is effective change. It is empowerment. It is an ethical imperative. It is work and it is fun. My peers and colleagues at Union, through the art of feedback and non-judgmental dialogue, empowered me to become the person I am meant to be, and I give back to others in the same way so they may also engage in this wonderful self-discovery. Earning my Ph.D. was a wonderful moment because it was a springboard of self-discovery—a process that never stops. Thank you Union Institute & University for the amazing gift of true learning.
I am honored to have this opportunity to share what my Union Institute & University experience has been for me. First, the Union journey was life changing for me. I feel much gratitude for my years spent at the university—taking classes, focusing on social justice research, and finally, writing my dissertation, a work of which I will always be proud. Second, I am pleased to serve on the Union Institute & University International Alumni Association Board because it gives me an opportunity to help insure that other learners have an opportunity to participate in the best of what Union has to offer. Since graduating with my doctorate from Union in 2010, I have had the privilege of doing good works in the world. This is the work of my dissertation research—to be a scholar and an agent of change in the world. For nine years I was the Education and Outreach Coordinator with the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, a health reform social justice movement, while at the same time a learner at Union. During this time, I came to understand and appreciate the challenge of being a scholar, a teacher, and an agent of change. I agree with Paulo Friere (1985) who describes this beautifully: “Through dialogue the teacher-of-the-students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student and students-teachers. The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow.”
It was through the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign that I was able to conduct my dissertation research, and grow as a scholar, teacher, and an activist. In July 2013, I began a position with the state of New Mexico Department of Health. I am now the program manager of the state’s Colorectal Cancer Program. This position is a continuation of what I learned at Union, and in my previous position with the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. In my new position, I still have the opportunity to work as both a scholar and an agent of change to make a difference in the lives of those who are uninsured and underinsured, or who just fall through the cracks in the United States health care system.
My Union Institute & University experience helped me believe in myself and the power that I have to make a difference in the world as an activist and scholar. An example of the ongoing impact of my Union journey is my establishment of a workgroup at the New Mexico Department of Health to raise awareness of social justice and public health consciousness. The determination to create this workgroup was a direct result of the encouragement and support that I received at Union.
On April 2, 2014 the workgroup and I presented Celebrating our Work and Carrying it Forward: Rediscovering Public Health and Social Justice at a joint conference on national health disparities sponsored by the New Mexico Public Health Association and the University of New Mexico. In this presentation, I highlighted the yearlong effort to create a study group and task force to overcome the historical amnesia about the interconnection between public health and social justice movements. This presentation had an enormous impact on both the audience and my co-workers in the Department of Public Health. It was a fresh reminder of the passion and the energy that was a part of my Union Institute & University journey. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Union, I appreciate this opportunity to look backward and also forward to the future about the ongoing impact of my Union Institute and University experience.
We are offering this assessment free of charge to all Union students and alumni. Contact CareerServices@myunion.edu or 800.486.3116 X 2170 to learn more. Clifton Strengths Finder results provide a way to discuss and develop your unique combination of skills, talents, and knowledge -- also known as strengths.
Union Institute & University is a non-profit, accredited, private university specializing in adult and distance education since 1964. Union strives to engage, enlighten, and empower students in a lifetime of learning and service. The university’s transformational and socially relevant programs promote creative and critical thinking, and connect scholarship with real-world practice. Flexible online classes, brief residencies, classroom experiences, and hybrid models of instruction lead to undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees. Union graduates, including 14 college presidents, leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, members of the United States Congress, and the first female prime minister of Jamaica, promote Union’s legacy of utilizing education to transform lives and communities.
For more information about Union Institute & University, visit www.myunion.edu or call: 888-828-8575.