Renée entered the MLAS program following a career change from healthcare and a stint in an MFA program studying essay-writing and poetry. She was drawn to MLAS themes on the human condition and human values, and environmental and cultural sustainability. Believing these themes to be intertwined, she sensed that groping toward their depths would inform her writing attendant to questions about human nature. Renée went on to earn a PhD in the transdisciplinary fields of Transformative Studies with a concentration in Consciousness Studies––fields that consider complexity and how we know what we know, believe what we believe, and enact ways of being that, for Renée, are “ever fraught with threat to life’s tender expressiveness—ours included.” Her current research philosophizes that “life is a largesse of improvisational unfurling that always desires ‘to be’.”
Renée was awarded a fellowship from Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory and Research for her dissertation research. For this, she admits she would have been at a significant loss conducting transdisciplinary research without having a) grasped interdisciplinarity at the master’s level and b) grappled with the fact that Liberal Studies asks for creative inquiry while denying the prevailing tendency toward cut-and- dry solutions to complex concerns. Consequently, she lauds the MLAS program as “not only exemplary but necessary for the uncertainties of these times.”
When Renée is not working on her first book post-PhD, she works with other writers, particularly academic writers, on the development and refinement of their own work for publication. She is co-proprietor with her wife, Lisa, of The Keyhole House, host to Asheville sojourners and writers. Renée serves on the editorial advisory boards for several scholarly journals, including Consciousness: Ideas and Research for the Twenty First Century and The Ecozoic: Reflections on Life in an Ecological Age. She has long been an active member of the Educator Council for the Center for Education, Imagination, and the Natural World, and has published numerous articles and essays.