My vita

Anne and dove copy edit Wmark.jpg

Anne Benvenuti, Ph.D. | vita summary

When asked what I do “in a word,” I often pause for a breath because what I do is integral scholarship and integral practice, and it’s not (yet) a recognized category. So there isn’t “a word” for it. I count myself among many pioneers in this work. I have long aspired to write and speak intellectually rigorous and well-informed work that is also practical, emotionally satisfying, and spiritually challenging. I know I am not alone. Many of us try to climb out of the boxes.

I am the author of Spirit Unleashed: Reimagining Human-Animal Relations (Wipf & Stock, 2014). This book is illustrated with many stories of experiences I’ve had that caused me to question the common wisdom of my time and place about human-animal relations, that humans are distinct from and superior to other animals. It is an interdisciplinary academic monograph, using evolutionary biology, ethology, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and theology to construct a paradigm for understanding human-animal relations. I wanted to write a beautiful and readable book that was also intellectually rigorous. I was gratified that the publisher nominated Spirit Unleashed for the 2015 Pulitzer, among other awards.

I am currently gestating my second book, Kindred Spirits, an exploration of animal rescue, conservation, and sanctuary as a global phenomenon. Over the past year, I have traveled from Mexico to northern England, from South Africa to Idaho, meeting sanctuary animals and the people who are engaged with them. I expect to deliver this book in the fall of 2017.

Current and recent affiliations

Farmer, Puglia, Italy. Growing walnuts, wine grapes, citrus, and olives, 2017–present.

Licensed psychologist, 1992–present (California #16500 and Illinois #6397964) with lifelong career focus on integrative approaches to health and healing, and on individual, social, and institutional health and well being, including educational programming, mental health intervention, and community leadership development. Broad interdisciplinary interests and experience in teaching, training, policy work, and clinical applications.

Priest of the Episcopal Church, 2009–present.

Associate editor for psychology and philosophy, Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine (a PubMed Journal), 2008–present.

University visiting research fellow, Institute for Theological Partnerships, Winchester University, England, 2015–17.

Meditation instructor, University of Chicago, Spiritual Life, and assisting priest, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 2015–17.

Co-chair, United Nations Task Force, Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2014–16.

Educator in residence, Hartnell College, Salinas, CA. 2015.

Inductee to the Collegium of Scholars at the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel, Morehouse College, 2014.

Trustee, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2012–16. United Nations Representative for CPWR, 2014–16.

Fellow, Zygon Center for the Study of Religion and Science, Chicago, 2010–13 (neuroethical and policy implications of natural theory of religion).

Member, UN NGO Committee on Mental Health, 2008–16 (co-convenor, Gender Issues Working Group, 2011–13; chair, Nominations Committee, 2013).

Visiting scholar, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2008–10 (model for neuroscience of religious epistemology with social policy and clinical applications).

Visiting scholar, Georgetown University Center for Clinical Bioethics, 2008–09 (human suffering and healing); and visiting scholar, Georgetown University Medical School, 2007–08 (brain-mind and healing research).

Lecturer, University of Virginia Semester at Sea, 2008 (global mental health, international women’s issues, and human unity and diversity).

Featured poet, We’moon, Mother Tongue Ink, 2006–15.

Affiliated scholar, University of Southern California, Center for Feminist Research, 2002–05 (interdisciplinary research in gender, brain, and women’s epistemology).

Professor of philosophy and psychology (emerita), Cerro Coso College, CA.

Book publications

Spirit Unleashed: Reimagining Human-Animal Relations. Wipf & Stock (Cascade), 2014.

“A Sexual Communion of Subjects: The Way of Uncomfortable Knowledge” (Somatic Psychology and Sexual Theology). In Contemporary Theological Approaches to Sexuality, eds. Lisa Isherwood and Dirk von der Horst. Routledge, 2017.

“The New Archaic: A Neurophenomenological Approach to Religious Ways of Knowing.” In A Field Guide to a New Meta-Field: Bridging the Humanities/Neurosciences Divide, ed. Barbara Maria Stafford. University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Essay and journal publications

“Kindred Spirits: The Greatest Story on Earth?” Narrative Culture (Special Issue: Experiencing the Other than Human), eds. Michaela Fenske and Martha Norkunas, 2018 (forthcoming).

Evolutionary Continuity.” (Commentary on Peña-Guzmán on Animal Suicide), Animal Sentience, 2017:092.

Evolutionary Continuity and Personhood.” (Commentary on Rowlands), Animal Sentience, 2016:141.

Personhood, Animalism, and Advanced Directives: the Affective and Intersubjective Heart of the Matter.” Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, Elsevier, Paris, France. 2017.

Evolutionary Continuity and Personhood: Legal and Therapeutic Implications of Animal Consciousness and Human Unconsciousness.” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. Special Issue: Law and Psychoanalysis, 2016.

“A Beautiful Confluence: Science and Religion as Methods of Human Participation in the Cosmos.” Forum on Public Policy, 2007.

“Love Dogs: Nature and Human Wholeness.” Presence: The Journal of Spiritual Directors International, 2007.

“To Lead Them Out” (the role of education in culture). Creation Spirituality, 1994.

“Remoralization of a People” (gay and lesbian identity in nature and culture). Creation Spirituality, 1993.


Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, UCLA, 1992. Dissertation funded by UCLA African American Studies Center/Ford Foundation grant.

M.A., summa cum laude, Counseling Psychology, UCLA, 1984.

B.A., cum laude, Theology, University of San Francisco, 1976.

National and international presentations

“Vox Anima: The Shifting Category of Human-Animal Relations.” American Folklore Society, Miami, FL, 2016.

“Vox Anima: Animal Communication, Relationality, and Soulfulness.” Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, 2016.

“Animal Communication and Relationality: A Case for Natural Spirituality.” University of Winchester, Institute for Theological Partnerships, Winchester, England, 2015.

“Women and Animal Kin: Spiritual Bonds.” Gaia’s Womb Presents: One Step Sideways/A Winter Retreat for Women, Racine, WI, 2015.

“Dr. Doolittle’s Heaven.” Invited lecture, Bakersfield College: Levan Center for the Humanities, 2015.

“Outdoor Epiphanies.” Invited speaker, Religions for the Earth Conference, Union Theological Seminary, and People’s Climate March, New York, 2014.

“Human Rights and Mental Health of Women in the Context of Religious Freedom.” International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Amsterdam, 2013, invited chair.

“Spinoza’s Ethics: A Framework for Human-Animal Relations?” International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Amsterdam, 2013, invited Philosophy Symposium panelist.

“Soul and Synapse: Neuroscience and Spiritual Formation.” Chicago Area Spiritual Directors, 2013.

“Evolutionary Continuity: Brain, Mind, Body, Niche (and Spirit?) of Pacific Gray Whales.” Zygon Center for the Study of Science and Religion, 2013.

“Perils and Promise of Clinical Models of Spirituality.” Anne Benvenuti & Elizabeth Davenport. Neuro-Humanities Entanglement conference, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012.

“Full Circle: Mindfulness Practice in Secular and Religious Settings.” Tenth Annual International Mindfulness Conference: Investigating and Integrating Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. University of Massachusetts, (scheduled) 2012.

“Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being of Rural Women and Girls: Impact on Community Well-Being.” Session moderator, UN NGO Mental Health Committee Parallel Event, 56th Meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, 2012.

“Peril and Promise of Religious Perspectives for Mental Health and Global Human Rights.” United Nations NGO Mental Health Committee, New York, 2012.

“Intersecting Selves: Can Religious and Political Selves Be Reconciled?” Elizabeth Davenport & Anne Benvenuti. 23rd Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Berlin, Germany, 2011.

“Impermanence.” A multi-media art installation. Rockefeller Chapel, the University of Chicago, 2011.

“Mirrors of Compassion: Neuroscience and Spiritual Direction.” Anne Benvenuti & Elizabeth Davenport. Spiritual Directors International, Atlanta, GA, 2011.

“Neuroscience and Spiritual Practice.” Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, 2010.

“Neuroscience and Spiritual Practice.” Institute for Spiritual Leadership 35th Anniversary Gathering, Chicago, 2010.

“Religion and the Common Good.” Symposium Chair, Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, 2010.

“The New Archaic: Neurophenomenological Approaches to Religious Ways of Knowing.”  Advanced Seminar, Zygon Center for Religion and Science, 2010.

“Gratefully at Home in the Body: Neuroscience of Spiritual Practice.” Anne Benvenuti & Elizabeth Davenport. Spiritual Directors International, San Francisco, CA, 2010.

“The Religious Imperative for the Equality of Women and Girls.” President Jimmy Carter, Anne Benvenuti, Gurbux Kahlon, & Bernadette Bostwick. Parliament for the World’s Religions, Melbourne, Australia, 2009.

“The New Archaic: Neuroscience, Spiritual Practice, and Healing.” Anne Benvenuti, Elizabeth Davenport, & Glenys Livingstone. Parliament for the World’s Religions, Melbourne, Australia, 2009.

“Becoming Homo Sapiens: Neurophenomenological Approaches to Spiritual Practices.” Georgetown University Medical School, Center for Clinical Bioethics Faculty Presentation Series, Georgetown, 2008.

“Cosmic Desire: The Beauty of the Holy.” Anne Benvenuti & Elizabeth Davenport. Spiritual Directors International, Vancouver, Canada, 2007.

“Homo Sapiens: Tough Mind, Soft Heart.” Oxford University Round Table Conference on Science and Religion, Lincoln College, Oxford, 2006.

“Remembering the Future: Creative Nature and the Sacred Feminine.” Elizabeth Davenport & Anne Benvenuti. Institute for Feminist Research, Dublin, Ireland, 2006.

“The Tooth that Nibbles at the Soul: Lesbian and Gay Experience of Exile and Returning Home.” Anne Benvenuti & Elizabeth Davenport. Spiritual Directors International, Costa Mesa, CA, 2006.

“A Beautiful Confluence: Science and Religion as Methods of Human Participation in the Cosmos.” Oxford University Round Table Conference on Science and Religion, Exeter College, Oxford, 2006.

“By the Content of Their Characters: Leadership, Power, and Ethics.” Anne Benvenuti, Diane Koditek, & Elizabeth Davenport. League for Innovation Annual Conference, Phoenix, AZ, 2003.

“Sexing the Brain: Science and the Timeliness of the Female Mind.” Center for Feminist Research, University of Southern California, 2003.

“Imagining a Feminist Epistemology: A Whole New Way of Being.” Center for Feminist Research, University of Southern California, 2002.

“Innovative Approaches to Diversity in the College and Community.” Anne Benvenuti, Diane Koditek, & Roe Darnell. League for Innovation Annual Conference, Boston, MA, 2002.

“The Message that Connects: Mission, Meaning, and Cooperative Effort.” Anne Benvenuti & Diane Koditek. League for Innovation Annual Conference, Boston, MA, 2002.

“Leadership Development: Motivations for Change.” Generation Q Leadership Retreat, University of Southern California (with University of California, Riverside; California State University, San Bernardino; Cal Poly Pomona), 2002.

“Building Resilience in the Gay and Lesbian Community.” Kern County Third Annual Race and Diversity Conference, Bakersfield, CA, 2002.

“Diversity in the Community College and Beyond.” Anne Benvenuti, Elizabeth Davenport & Karl Reid. Integrity and Inclusion: Diversity in the Academic Curriculum and Beyond, Eastern Michigan University, Ann Arbor, MI, 2001.

“Rock and a Hard Place: Conversations for Strong Spirits.” Anne Benvenuti & Diane Koditek. League for Innovation Annual Conference (leadership and organizational track), Atlanta, GA, 2001.

“Leading from Center: Balance and Personal Integrity for Leaders.” National Institute for Leadership Development, Phoenix, AZ, 2000.

“Mind-body Medicine, an Introduction.” Invitational Address for Chi Sigma Iota Annual Awards Dinner, California State University, Bakersfield, CA, 1997.

“Connecting Mind and Body for a Healthy Future.” Fetzer Institute/National Council for Staff, Program and Organizational Development (NCSPOD), Seattle, WA, 1996.

“Self-protective Strategies of African American AFDC Recipients.” Chi Sigma Iota Research Conference, Bakersfield, CA, 1995.

“Creating an Effective Adult Learning Community.” NCSPOD (conference opening general session panel and two-session workshop), Phoenix, AZ, 1994.

“Developing a Community Roundtable.” Anne Benvenuti & Gayle Whitlock. Third Chancellors Conference for California Community Colleges, San Jose, CA, 1994.

“Creating an Effective Adult Learning Community.” Anne Benvenuti, Gayle Whitlock, Sue Keintz, & Deborah Johnson. Third Chancellors Conference for California Community Colleges, San Jose, CA, 1994.

“Inclusive Education: Dealing with Diversity.” Joanne Smikle & Anne Benvenuti. NCSPOD, Miami, FL, 1993.

“Understanding Diversity in the Community College: Leaders of a Diverse Community.” Assilomar Leadership Conference, Assilomar, CA, 1991.

“Class Issues in Clinical Psychotherapy.” Symposium (N. Baker, chair), Annual Meeting of the National Association of Women in Psychology, Tempe, AZ, 1990.

“Life Satisfaction among Three Minority Groups.” Symposium (G. Sorenson, chair), National Educational Research Association, Washington, DC, 1988.