Holistic Health Studies Faculty
“I am interested in creating a space for holistic health. Whether as students, graduates, faculty, staff or community partners, together we continue to work to develop the Holistic Health Studies program as a space for holism to incubate and grow, and that can be applied to our lives and in our communities.”
St. Catherine University's Holistic Health Studies faculty is not afraid to take risks. All faculty members started their professional lives in "traditional" careers in a variety of fields, but they have joined together to become leaders in revolutionary ways of thinking about health and healing.
St. Kate's faculty expertise draws from Western medicine, ancient healing and innovation. They link disciplines; practice scholarship using research methods they have developed; and create engaging curricula that break new ground. They are nourished by interacting with students who bring their widely varying experiences to the ever-changing study of holistic health and healing.
Profiles of core faculty members, who teach, guide and mentor Holistic Health Studies students, are listed below. You'll also learn from guest lecturers withe diverse areas of expertise.
“Choices we make about what we put in our bodies, where we spend our food dollars and how we grow our food can influence a new model for agriculture and a local, sustainable food system.”
JANET DAHLEM | associate professor
Janet Dahlem oversees the “Practicum and integrative Seminar” and teaches “Complementary and Alternative Approaches to Healthcare,” “Alternative Approaches to Nutrition” and “Women and Holistic Health.”
Dahlem says her values were shaped by her engagement with movements for social justice, civil rights and equality in the 1960s and ’70s. “i wanted to make the world a better place,” she says.
A social worker by profession, Dahlem was moved by a family illness to influence the integration of holistic approaches in healthcare. The public’s increasing demand to have their physicians and mental health providers offer more holistic services, and the increasing demand for graduate education in the field, led Dahlem (as program director at that time) to coordinate a team of innovative faculty to develop and launch the holistic health studies program in 2004.
Dahlem has a passion for connecting students with their community and the environment, along with her commitment to nutrition. Dahlem, whose master’s project focused on laughter in health and learning, loves to laugh and fills her courses with humor.
“Constant exploration keeps me alive.”
CAROL GEISLER | associate professor
Carol Geisler’s area of focus is the research sequence, guiding students through a stimulating, three-semester investigation of subjects they select. Geisler’s own research has focused on complementary/alternative therapies that older women use to treat their arthritis, as well as healthcare providers’ attitudes toward, referrals for and use of complementary/alternative therapies.
Geisler says her calling is to “bridge worlds.” These worlds are physical, emotional and spiritual healing; experiential and academic; Eastern and Western, and many nuances in between.
Geisler’s earliest influence in holistic health was her grandmother, a midwife who practiced herbal medicine. During her childhood Geisler also learned to respect cultural and individual differences at an international boarding school in India, and that experience “completely shifted who I am,” Geisler says.
A graduate of St. Catherine University, Geisler first trained to be a registered nurse. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in counseling and school psychology from Michigan State University and began teaching in St. Catherine’s holistic health studies program in 2004.
She helped devise the holistic health studies model of “mindbodyspirit” or experiential research in which those conducting the research experience and reflect on the topics they are studying.
“I enjoy being on that leading edge, starting new ventures and creating new curricula.”
JANET MARINELLI | assistant professor
Janet Marinelli teaches “Foundations of Holistic Health and Wellness,” “Spiritual Wellness,” “Energy Healing I and II” and “Creative Arts and the Healing Journey,” and is an advisor for independent studies. She is passionate about transformative learning and healing through the arts. She also is committed to social justice in relation to healthcare access and issues of racism.
For Marinelli, art is a way to transform oneself, and a balanced perspective can be achieved by noticing beauty in the world. Neither requires that you be a professional artist; simply allowing yourself to appreciate beauty and practice creative expression is transformational in itself.
Marinelli’s path into holistic health began when she was teaching in the physical therapist assistant program at St. Mary’s Junior College, which later merged with St. Catherine University. She had an opportunity to learn about alternative health systems, and she discovered that holistic health aligned with her philosophy that health is much more than physical well-being.
Alongside visionary leaders and faculty at St. Mary’s Junior College, Marinelli founded a health and wellness counseling certificate program, which she chaired in the 1980s. At St. Catherine the certificate evolved into the Holistic Health Studies graduate program in 2004.