Drew Leder has blended an unusual array of interests and accomplishments. He has a B.A. and M.D. from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is currently a full professor of Western and Eastern Philosophy at Loyola College in (Baltimore) Maryland.
Dr. Leder is the author of several books, including Spiritual Passages: Embracing Life's Sacred Journey (Tarcher/Putnam, 1997), which focuses on how to use the aging process as a "curriculum" for soul-growth. The book uses stories and exercises from traditions diverse as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Native American spirituality.
Dr. Leder's work on aging first grew out of his work as a Scholar-in-Residence at Chicago's prestigious Park Ridge Center, where he designed a model for ElderSpirit Centers, serving those interested in later-life spiritual growth. Dr. Leder continues to act as a consultant to educational and residential communities with this focus. He has also given lectures, workshops, and retreats all over the country on how to age creatively and spiritually. He presents in both more traditional settings (for example, giving a Presidential Symposium Address at the Gerontological Society of America) as well as more "alternative" settings such as the Omega Institute and Esalen. His work in aging and other fields has been featured in dozens of newspapers, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune, as well as national magazines ranging from Family Circle to New Age.
Having both medical and philosophical training, Dr. Leder has also written on bodily experience in health and illness, on which he is regarded an international expert. He is the author of The Absent Body (U. of Chicago Press, 1990), editor of The Body in Medical Thought and Practice (Kluwer, 1992), and assistant editor of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics (Macmillan, 1995).
More recently, Dr. Leder also authored Games for the Soul: 40 Playful Ways to Find Fun and Fulfillment in a Stressful World (Hyperion, 1998). In this project, Dr. Leder shows how spiritual growth need not be the product of forbidding "renunciation and discipline," but can be a playful and enjoyable process. On a more serious note, Dr. Leder has worked extensively with prisoners in a maximum security environment, the subject of his newest book, The Soul Knows No Bars: Inmates Reflect on Life, Death, and Hope (preface by Cornel West; Rowman and Littlefield, 2000). Again, his work in this field has led to extensive media attention and speaking engagements.
Dr. Leder's recent talks and workshops in the field of aging have included "Finding Wholeness in the Second Half of Life", "Community and Later-Life Spirituality," The New Age of Aging: Mind, Body, Spirit," "Aging Cross-Culturally Perceived," and "Spiritual Passages." When possible, Dr. Leder likes to engage the audience in ways that emphasize personal reflection, experience, and dialogue.
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