director of SF State's Holistic Healing Institute is a practitioner of
meditation and traditional East Asian medicine, as well as a popular instructor.
Adam Burke's journey through life continues to be a holistic experience.
The associate professor of health education and new director of SF State's
Holistic Healing Institute is living proof that the connection of body,
mind and spirit are the secret to good health and well-being.
"Holistic health is about perspective," said Burke. "Holism
recognizes the fundamental interconnectedness of things and consequently
how our health, and indeed all of life, is dependent on finding the place
of optimal balance." Burke, who holds a Ph.D. in social psychology
from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), said that his interest
in this area is educational in nature. "Having holistic health courses
within a university setting makes tremendous sense to me. This is the
best place to reach tomorrow's leaders with these essential 21st century
concepts and skills." He notes that SF State's holistic health curriculum
is the most developed in the country and a model for undergraduate education
"In most medical schools, alternative health practices are given
very brief coverage," said Burke. "We believe that undergraduate
education is the right context for exposing students to this knowledge."
At SF State, students can opt for a degree with a holistic health emphasis
or take it as a minor or as a general education course. "Our courses
are popular with students who recognize the value in knowledge, awareness
and skills that will help them make better choices and live healthier
Burke's quest to integrate both Eastern and Western practices began with
meditation. The Detroit native was co-director of the Transcendental Meditation
Center at Michigan State University while still an undergraduate. After
completing his bachelor's degree at MSU and master's in public health
at University of California Los Angeles, he moved to northern California
to continue formal meditation training. He has since taught meditation
and other mind-body practices throughout the United States, as well as
in Asia, Europe and the former Soviet Union.
While working on his doctorate at UCSC, Burke discovered acupuncture.
"I did not like the idea of getting needles stuck in me," he
said. "But I was looking for a treatment for something that Western
medicine was not helping." In treatment he discovered what he was
looking for professionally. "It is a fascinating and effective mind-body
While completing his doctoral thesis, Burke enrolled at the American College
of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco to study traditional
East Asian medicine. Since graduating in 1986, the same year he began
teaching at SF State, he has maintained a small, private practice. Burke
was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to the State of California Acupuncture
Board in 2006.
As a practitioner and researcher, Burke often compares notes with his
sister Gail Burke, a physician in Flint, Mich. "She treats a lot
of people with diabetes, a disease significantly linked to diet and lifestyle
choices," he said. "These are exacerbated by stressful events
like the widespread unemployment prevalent in the area. My sister and
I both recognize the importance of holistic approaches to treatment, that
prescribing medication is not enough."
Mary Beth Love, professor and chair of the health education department
in the College of Health and Human Services said she is impressed by Burke's
ease and ability to work with different communities on health education
projects. "Adam is a wonderful blend of serious academic researcher,
cultural innovator and teacher," said Love. "He brings academic
rigor and critical thinking to our understanding of health." Burke
has received National Institutes of Health funding for collaborative research
in India and has been recognized several times for excellence in general
education teaching at SF State.
Burke's academic research includes curricular innovation in the areas
of holistic health; cross-cultural studies of traditional healing practices
(in China, India and Nepal); and inquiries into meditation and imagery.
Burke wrote the book "Self-hypnosis Demystified" (Ten Speed
Press, 2004). His writing on holistic health education and traditional
Eastern healing has appeared in peer-reviewed journals including Ethnicity
and Disease, Family Medicine, Women's Health Issues and the Journal of
Alternative and Complementary Medicine. He is also a frequent contributor
to the American Acupuncturist, to which he recently was appointed editor-in-chief.
-- Denize Springer