A headshot of Ph.D. candidate Eugene Hughes.
Student

PhD

PhD candidate Eugene Hughes is a psychotherapist (trained in psychoanalytic art psychotherapy), founder of Artgym (promoting creativity in adult learning) and an award-winning documentary filmmaker (using creativity to highlight social issues).

Finding an academic environment that supports interdisciplinary research was critical to me. Coupled with a pedagogy that puts creative thinking at its core made this PhD irresistible. I feel truly privileged to be part of the first cohort of this groundbreaking program.

Dissertation

"I Sense Therefore I Am: A Psychological Study of the Experience of Being Alone with Nature"

This study explores how we experience a sense of self in environments with no-to-low human impact. Based upon 20 interviews with Wilderness Rites of Passage Guides, Land Artists and Shamans from around the world, the research draws upon the lived experiences of nature-based practitioners whose work fuses inner worlds with outer landscapes. The study examines the reciprocity between sensory perception and our sense of self with a specific focus on the relationship between sensation, memory, and imagination. It concludes by proposing how aesthetic engagement with natural environments can expand our sense of self beyond the boundaries of “me” and “not me” and offer a pathway to self-awareness and personal growth.

Committee

Paul Stoller, Professor of Anthropology, West Chester University

Mark Moore, PhD, Clinical Psychologist/Psychoanalyst

Arnold Berleant, PhD, DFA (hon.)