The Forgiveness Initiative

The Forgiveness Initiative is a central thrust of the Laboratory for the Investigation of Mind, Body, and Spirit that seeks to promote and support projects that focus on forgiveness education and research. Two examples of this work are described below:

1) In the summer of 2007, two Luther students and I embarked on a trip to Sierra Leone in order to apply forgiveness research to those struggling in the aftermath of a civil war. There was a lot of pain and suffering in the Sierra Leone region as a result of their decade long civil war, and I felt offering some training and some curriculum materials would hopefully provide a sustainable mechanism through the school. This aimed to help the younger generations to see the atrocities of the past through something of a more forgiving light. 

This work has become known as the Sierra Leone Forgiveness project and relies on the collaboration and support Drs. Nancy Peddle and Frederic Luskin. Together we have continued to build momentum for spreading the message of forgiveness in Sierra Leone. Highlighting this work was a week-long forgiveness seminar that took place at Stanford University in the summer of 2011. Following this training, our colleagues from Sierra Leone have spent countless days doing forgiveness education and documenting their effectiveness through quantitative and qualitative assessments.

2) In 2010, renowned forgiveness expert, Dr. Everett Worthington, visited Luther College to kickoff a semester-long forgiveness BLITZ! This forgiveness education initiative focused on bringing greater awareness and appreciation of forgiveness to Luther College students. The entire student body was assessed during the semester at five different time points to track changes in attitudes and perceptions. The BLITZ had important effects on forgiveness and other pro-social and religious experiences of the students.

The Laboratory for the Investigation of Mind, Body, and Spirit at Luther College actively seeks opportunities to be involved in these types of projects that promote forgiveness and rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of these programs through sound science.

3) Recently, we have been focusing on the utility of forgiveness in individuals with medical conditions.  Many patients with chronic medical conditions report forgiveness issues, and efficient and effective means of helping patients with these issues are currently being developed and tested in collaboration with colleagues at Mayo Medical Center and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  One approach that we've developed to helping people with forgiving others can be found here, and another approach to helping people forgive themselves can be found here (enter "restore" as the password).