Mysticism and Politics (FNDS 3304)

Foundations 3304
“Moonset at sunrise” painting by Dolores Chiappone


Mysticism and politics have been two fundamental albeit seemingly unconnected dimensions of human existence.

Indeed, mystical experience is spiritual, contemplative, invisible, and unreal while political experience is mundane, active, explicit, and pragmatic. Bridging them is possible, though, and might look like this “Moonset at sunrise” painting by Dolores Chiappone.

In this class, we will examine various examples of mystical experience from the literary texts, works of science fiction, and movies using relevant scholarly sources and lenses. We will then explore several intersections or “incursions” of mysticism into politics. Some incursions will be as innocent as this raindrop (below: "Water surface with ripples and drop falling" photo credit). Others can be as sinister as this occult and antisemitic Ostara Nazi journal (below).

This course covers topics in the disciplines of religious studies, history, psychology, political science, anthropology, sociology.

Who should take this course?

This class serves the interests and the needs of various groups of students. To explore the incursions of mysticism into politics we will use a wide range of scholarly perspectives: psychology, history, anthropology, sociology, political philosophy, and political science. No theories have been developed on the links between mysticism and politics and few textbooks have been written, so with sufficient dedication to this course you can make discoveries and promote your personal development even if you have never had any mystical experiences.

More about this course

Course number: FNDS 3304

Number of Credits: 4

Search UM-Dearborn Class Schedule to find out more.

Dearborn Discovery Core requirements met: Critical and Creative Thinking, Intersections

Meet your faculty member: Vadym Pyrozhenko, Associate Professor of Public Administration

One of the benefits of taking a Foundations course is gaining a faculty mentor that can support you throughout your college career. Get to know Vadym Pyrozhenko, faculty member for Mysticism and Politics.

Vadym Pyrozhenko

Born in what was then called the Soviet Ukrainian Republic, I witnessed a collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and then experienced various challenges of a massive social change in the 1990s. Corruption, lawlessness, and ruthless politics were pervasive. On the other hand, a spiritual awakening had been happening as the society was scrapping hard the Soviet Communist ideology.

“Natural birthing movement” was a small part of that spiritual awakening and, as a movement activist struggling with organizational issues, I was occasionally pondering about the right balance between the spiritual and the pragmatic. That balance shifted for me when I came to the United States to study public administration as a Master’s and then a PhD student.

As you might imagine, the field of public administration is fundamentally unlike spirituality. Despite this dissimilarity, my dissertation work on the topic of citizen participation took a sudden turn when I returned to Ukraine and found out that the natural homebirthing movement had produced changes both in public health policies and maternity practices. I attributed those effects to the movement’s spirituality, and since then I have been intrigued and captivated by the connections between spirituality and public life. I am inviting you to join me on this learning journey!

Have questions about this course? Email Dr. Pyrozhenko at [email protected].