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Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Beth Goodier

Beth Goodier
Professor Beth Goodier

Spirituality in the Workplace: Are We Forgetting Something?
By Nicole de la Cretaz

How much of ourselves do we leave at the door when we step into the workplace? Be it school or work, it is evident that in most environments spirituality takes a back seat and our professional identities take the driver's seat. Why does this happen? Communication Professor Beth Goodier focuses much of her research on this topic.

Dr. Goodier has been teaching at the College of Charleston for four years. She completed her bachelor's degree in speech communication at the University of Clemson.

Goodier furthered her education at the University of South Florida, where she earned her master's degree and doctorate in communication with a concentration in organizational communication.

Before coming to the College, Goodier worked as a consultant which opened her eyes to the processes of communication that take place in corporate environments. The experience led her to believe that these interactions in the workplace could use some improvement. "I saw the way people interacted in business environments, and just felt like something wasn't right," Goodier said.

She was also inspired to study in this field by David Whyte's book, "The Heart Aroused," which suggested that Corporate America was losing its spirit in some ways because we are programmed to check our spirituality at the door.

Goodier acknowledges that spirituality in the workplace is not a topic frequently discussed. She says that is all the more reason to conduct this research, but it was difficult at first to find the resources to do so. "I had no site to work from, no plan, I just knew I was interested in pursuing this further," she says. Luckily, Goodier happened upon a hospital that was attempting to transition its corporate social structure to what was referred to as "higher ground leadership,"

"I wanted to identify how the organization creates and sustains spirituality among its employees," she said. She examined the meaning of spirituality, the language employees used, the stories they told, and their motivations as well. Moreover, she was able to analyze how changes to the organization during their transition impacted the organization and the people within it.

Goodier also conducts research relevant to patient/caregiver interactions, specifically with regard to the education and training of female physicians. She uses the language they use and the stories they tell about their lives relevant to their profession to analyze the effectiveness of current training programs. She also uses these resources to look critically at the social identity of female physicians.

Most recent to Goodier's areas of research is her study of volunteers. Her objective is to unearth the reasons volunteers remain dedicated to their work regardless of the lack of monetary compensation, and particularly in emotionally charged environments. She studies the emotional work that volunteers perform on a regular basis, which is the way individuals suppress their actual feelings for the sake of performing their job.

In January, a book is being published to which Goodier has contributed some of her work. Also, an article she wrote on the representation of colon cancer on the television show "NYPD Blue" has been published in Popular Communication.

Goodier teaches a number of courses at the college, including Organizational Communication, Business Communication, and Health Communication. Her students find her classes engaging and interesting. "The material is interesting because she relates it to real life circumstances. It's so clear that she knows so much about what she's teaching, and that she honestly cares about it, that it's almost impossible not to get involved," says Chris Michael, a Goodier student for several semesters now. "She makes you want to learn more about what she's teaching because it applies to everything we do."

Goodier hopes that in the near future she will be able to continue her research on spirituality in the workplace, and also elaborate more on the other areas of interest she has with regard to organizational communication. Though her research is important, her family currently a top priority. Goodier is the proud mother of a three-year-old daughter, and is soon to welcome a new addition to the family.