In 1997, Parker J. Palmer with Rick and Marcy Jackson founded what would become the Center for Courage & Renewal (the “Center”). First known as the Center for Teacher Formation, it began as a program within the Fetzer Institute. Courage to Teach® became the premier program helping teachers connect soul with role, rekindling their passion for educating the whole student.
As the Center’s Circle of Trust approach grew more popular within the teaching profession as well as other social sectors, the Center for Courage & Renewal was established as an independent nonprofit in 2003. Programs are now available for leaders in health care, ministry, business and community settings, as well as to everyone yearning to become more authentic and self-aware in their life and work.
This video below shares conversations with Parker J. Palmer, Rick Jackson and Marcy Jackson, and facilitators from the founding era of the Center for Courage & Renewal. Many thanks to Janet Smith for her interviews and for capturing the essential roots of our mission “to nurture personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it.”
Highlights in the History of Courage & Renewal
What began as a quiet experiment in sustaining the inner life of public educators has grown into an educational nonprofit fostering courage and renewal across professions.
- The Fetzer Institute asks Parker J. Palmer to propose “a long-term project to aid in the ‘spiritual formation of teachers’.”
- 22 teachers attend Parker’s pilot retreat: “The Courage to Teach: A Renewal Weekend for Teachers.”
- 1993, Palmer wins national award of the Council of Independent Colleges for Outstanding Contributions to Higher Education.
- Parker pilots the first two-year Courage to Teach program.
- Six master teachers are recruited and prepared by Parker to lead two-year CTT retreat programs in South Carolina, Maryland, Michigan and Washington states.
- Center for Teacher Formation is established as a Fetzer Institute program, with Parker Palmer as Senior Advisor and Rick & Marcy Jackson as co-directors.
- The Courage to Teach—Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life is published.
- First Facilitator Preparation Program cohort with 8 members.
- The Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 administrators and faculty, named Palmer as one of the 30 “most influential senior leaders” in higher education and one of the 10 key “agenda-setters” of the past decade: “He has inspired a generation of teachers and reformers with evocative visions of community, knowing, and spiritual wholeness.”
- The Courage to Teach: A Guide for Reflection and Renewal is published.
- The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity and Caring is published.
- Courage to Lead pilot program for educational leaders is launched.
- Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation is published.
- Facilitators establish partnerships to expand local CTT programs.
- Stories of the Courage to Teach—Honoring the Teacher’s Heart is published.
- Accrediting Commission for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) establishes the annual Parker J. Palmer “Courage to Teach” and “Courage to Lead” Awards to exemplary directors of medical residency programs.
- The Center for Teacher Formation becomes an educational nonprofit, independent of the Fetzer Institute.
- We reach the milestone of 100 Facilitators trained!
- The Center trains the first cross-professional cohort of facilitators.
- Teaching With Fire—Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach is published.
- A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life is published.
- Name changes to Center for Courage & Renewal with tagline: Reconnecting who you are with what you do.
- Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer is published.
- Courage & Renewal for Clergy and Congregational Leaders (Lilly Project) launched.
- Courage & Renewal for School Leaders (Rainwater Charitable Funds) launched.
- Leading from Within: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Lead is published.
- 10th Anniversary Edition of The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life is published.
- Circles of Trust: the Work of Parker J. Palmer DVD produced.
- The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life is re-issued with a feisty new introductory essay.
- A Hidden Wholeness paperback with Guide for Readers and Circles of Trust DVD is released.
- An Undivided Life: Seeking Wholeness in Ourselves, Our Work & Our World audio recording is published.
- We reach the milestone of 200 Facilitators trained!
- Parker receives the William Rainey Harper Award from the Religious Education Association, “given to outstanding leaders whose work in other fields has had profound impact upon religious education.”
- The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal is published.
- Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit is published and chosen by Spirituality & Practice as one of the best books of 2011 on contemplation and social activism.
- Parker is named an Utne Reader Visionary, one of “25 people who are changing your world.
- First national conference for Courage & Renewal in Health Care.
- First Australian Facilitator Preparation cohort.
- First cohort of the Academy for Leaders in Seattle, WA.
- First Courage to Lead for Young Leaders & Activists in Chester, Connecticut, on the heels of Hurricane Sandy.
- Launch of Healing Democracy Action Study Circles.
- Online workshop launches with Cojourneo.com and Parker Palmer called Getting to the Heart of the Matter
- Parker engages thousands of people in Seattle for a week of events around Healing the Heart of Democracy
- We celebrate Parker J. Palmer’s 75th Birthday!
- Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach is published.