Dreaming of Compassion

Dreaming of Compassion

Coreene Archer writes in this new book about the desire of a university system to implement compassion across the system...


4 October 2021

Key people

In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream

A Dream Within a Dream, Edgar Allen Poe, 1849 

The relationship between the dream and the dreamer is not a new one. Before Freud began his exploration with dreams, Edgar Allen Poe, referenced daytime and night dreams as a source of data within his poem A Dream Within a Dream.

Dreams are a way of accessing our unconscious and when shared in a wider environment or group, it allows links between our hopes and aspirations, or more often, our anxieties and fears. When dreams are linked with compassion, the etymology of which in Latin is “co-suffering”, the possibility for change is rooted in thought and action.

In this chapter, Dreaming of Compassion, from the new book, Towards the Compassionate University, Coreene Archer’s focus is on the desire of a university system to implement compassion across the system. It is challenged by a whole system change programme that restructures the university and is in some cases, brutal.  Yet, the desire to implement care and support of the individuals who survive remains high.

Coreene Archer adapts social dreaming methodology, conceptualised by Gordon Lawrence and which is usually used with groups and applies it to the pair she is supervising in the leadership of a change process. Archer states:

The introduction of dreams into this space offered a different quality of engagement into a system filled with pain, whilst actively trying to be the source of hope and care.

You can read the chapter here and for more details about the book Towards the Compassionate University: From Golden Thread to Global Impact (2021), edited by Kathryn Waddington, visit the publisher, Routledge’s website.

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