Bobbi Patterson, Ph.D.

Founding Fellow

Bobbi Patterson, Ph.D. Dr. Patterson joined Emory University’s faculty in 1994 after serving as a University Chaplain and Dean of Students. A specialist in spiritual practices, her comparative approach from Christian and Tibetan Buddhist perspectives emphasizes processes of self and communal transformation for ethical engagement in social change. Her recent scholarship and teaching focuses at the intersection of contemplative practices, experiences of place, and sustainability. With training in feminist theory and theology, her interests draw on the fields of symbolic anthropology, psychodynamics, and cultural constructions of self, nature, and community. Interested in phenomenological and embodied approaches to theory and teaching, she has secured a national place in pedagogical discussions on civic engagement, experiential education, and integrative pedagogies.

As an advocate of “scholar citizenship” for faculty and students, she founded the Theory-Practice-Learning Program at Emory. A community-partnered approach to teaching, TPL provided workshops, trainings, and placement coordination for faculty across Emory College. Processes for reflective judgment created the core of TPL’s approach, and Dr. Patterson developed numerous formats and exercises that link analytic and critical thinking with ethical and personal reflection. Ethical engagement remains a cornerstone of her approach to community-partnered and sustainability-focused courses, research, and service. She has written numerous articles and book chapters relating her approaches to experiential and service learning, which have received notice at national meeting on higher education. She has led numerous workshops at national academic meetings and on college and university campuses across the nation. Dr. Patterson drew this reflective and civic engagement approach into her eight year work as the Dean of the Emory Scholars, Emory College’s merit scholarship program. With over 350 students involved, she developed new summer internship experiences including opportunities for service aboard. She also developed a residential program integrating community-based learning with ethical reflection and sustainable living. She is currently teaching the first graduate level “Community-Engaged Scholarship, Teaching, and Research” class offered in the Laney Graduate School.