Community-Based Learning Founders Award: Arthur Warmoth

May 6, 2005


The Community-Based Learning Founders Award is given annually to a faculty member for career achievements and contributions in linking Sonoma State University with the local community through teaching, scholarship, and service. Faculty at Sonoma State have been deeply engaged with local community issues and have involved and inspired students for decades, long before the term “service-learning” was even coined. This award recognizes those who paved the way for current civic engagement trends in education and honors the spectrum of their work. This year’s winner is Art Warmoth of the Psychology Department.


Dr. Warmoth exemplifies the scholarship of engagement and has applied his nationally recognized expertise in humanistic psychology to local and national economic issues, to health care reform, to politics, and ecology. The desire to understand and cultivate full human potential – at the level of the individual, community, and society – lie at the heart of Dr. Warmoth’s scholarly and professional service.  His contributions over thirty years of teaching at Sonoma State University have greatly shaped the nature of several key curriculums, weaving into each integral connections with the greater Sonoma County region.  Putting equal emphasis on his roles as scholar, teacher and citizen, Dr. Warmoth’s local activism inspires and facilitates collaboration among academics of numerous disciplines and local community stakeholders.


Early in his career at Sonoma State University, Dr. Warmoth co-founded the Humanistic Psychology Institute (now the Saybrook Graduate School), which emphasizes training and research in humanistic psychology that addresses human potential at all levels.  The Psychology Department Learning Community, which Dr. Warmoth also co-founded, provides a forum for psychology professionals, community members and students to dialogue, network and engage with community issues. This program of coordinated studies in psychology integrates important contributions from the humanities and social sciences.  Under Dr. Warmoth’s leadership, the Psychology Department has become one of the leading service-learning departments on campus.  As former Chair of the Academic Planning Committee and a member of the Academic Affairs Strategic Planning Committee, Dr. Warmoth has been a leading advocate for integrating community-based learning into a new General Education plan, into the Human Development major program, and into the mission of Academic Affairs.


Art Warmoth’s most recent contribution to integrating university strengths and goals with those of the local community has been the exploration of a relationship between Sonoma State University and the Politics of Trust Network. A special project of (California State) Senator John Vasconcellos’ Legacy Project, the Politics of Trust applies the vision of the human potential movement to politics.  Senator Vasconcellos visited Sonoma State a year ago at Dr. Warmoth’s invitation and participated in a dialogue with SSU faculty, students, administrators and community members about the applications of humanistic psychology principles to our political and social systems.  These discussions have led to a partnership between the university and the Politics of Trust designed to explore the application of these ideas to our Sonoma County communities. 


Arthur Warmoth has been a dedicated board member of a number of community groups, with which he consistently seeks to link his academic and teaching work.  He is Executive Director of the Skaggs Island Foundation, which takes a systems approach to regional development by integrating cultural, educational, environmental, economic, and recreational issues.  For many years, he has been a Board Member of the Family Connection, a program that trains volunteers to help homeless families transition to stability.  He also works with the Latino Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services of Sonoma County, which he involved last year with a university-sponsored service-learning conference on local Latino issues.


Dr. Warmoth is a “big thinker” and a visionary.  His outreach efforts do not focus on direct service or one-time events, but take a broad and complex approach to issues and communities.  In recent years, for example, he has worked to design a “community dollars” program for Sonoma County, which would supplement the dollar economy and make necessary services more available to all. 


Through educated use of the Internet, Dr. Warmoth’s research, publications, position papers and essays are readily available for practical reference in academic and civic engagement capacities.  His community-based research and publishing has focused on sustainable community economics, higher education, learning communities, human development, and humanities-based psychologies.  He has also spoken at a number of venues about community learning, civil society, humanistic psychology and his ideas about the “social commons.”


Arthur Warmoth deserves recognition for his years of community-based scholarship, teaching, and service. He has consistently inspired Sonoma State University faculty and students alike with creative visions of civic engagement, encouraging ever-deepening commitments to our mission of educating civic-minded, global citizens.