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People on Campus, Adam Burke
November 2, 2007

Photo of Adam BurkeThe 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 nationwide.

"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 lives."

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 medicine."

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


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Last modified November 2 , 2007 by University Communications