All participants are apt to find at least some of the material very challenging, in good part because it touches so deeply on fundamental issues of world-view, values, and beliefs.
The workshop consists of four parts. Part 1 presents an overview of the workshop, including some of its basic premises. Part 2 attempts to reveal some of the important disfunctionalities of the world and their expression in human services, especially in services to devalued people. These two parts take up approximately the first one-third to one-half of the event. In Part 3, participants are presented with an array of interrelated adaptive strategies to help them function with greater moral coherency within disfunctionality, as well as with some decisions that they need to make. Examples of such strategies include: pursuing and acting upon truth; recognizing untruths, lies and deceptions, even in their early stages; assuming a stance of contradiction to deceptive or destructive patterns and practices; acting on the inherent morality of an issue, rather than on anticipated outcomes; accepting the inevitability of suffering for oneself and others, and crafting a moral response to it; and forming personal and communal solidarity with devalued people. In this part of the event, the wrenching consequences to participants of trying to act with moral coherency in the midst of incoherency, disfunctionality, and even immorality will also be spelled out, and participants will be shown how to prepare for these consequences. This part will take up most of the last half of the event. Part 4 is a brief conclusion to the event overall.
By its very nature, this event cannot be “value-free,” “value-less,” or value-neutral. Much of the workshop material will touch on questions of the meaning of life. On several occasions, the presenters will state some of what they believe, and explain how some of the subsequent analyses and recommendations are derived from these beliefs. Thus, participants need to be prepared to be deeply challenged on many things dealing with worldviews, values, and service practices. The designers of this workshop do not expect that the views or positions presented will be embraced wholesale, but they are not aware of anyone having attended the event in its entirety who did not find considerable worth in at least much of the content.
Directly and indirectly, the workshop explores some of the major values that underlie human services, and that must be addressed and in many cases challenged by a person who wants to become or remain a moral service worker. However, the workshop is not intended to provide participants with highly personalized or quick-and-easy solutions to specific problems. Instead, participants will be exposed to an array of strategies which are universal, and therefore broadly applicable to planning projects, service operations, voluntary involvements, advocacy relationships, etc. Even in a workshop that lasts a week, these strategies can only be covered in sufficient detail to delineate the essentials, to awaken consciousness, to enable many participants to recognize certain issues and adaptive responses, and to point them toward further progress in these various strategies. Participants who want to advance their skills to an operational level in these strategies will either have to engage in further study or more detailed training. In order to assist participants in such endeavors, relevant reading materials have been identified, and a reading list will be distributed at the workshop.