Commencement Speaker, Eric Utne – May 14, 2011

Eric Utne, social entrepreneur and founder of the Utne Reader, gave the commencement address. He told the graduates that following their hearts would serve them best as they become “change agents” in the world. “The spiritual journey, one’s soul journey, is something that goes on through your whole life,” he said.

Utne recounted his own spiritual journey, which included several attempts at studying architecture in college, studies in meditation and acupuncture and Chinese medicine and, eventually, journalism. He founded the Utne Reader in 1984; sixteen years later, burned out, he left the magazine taking a “sabbatical that lasted forever.” He had, he said, become “too much identified with ideas. I needed to find my heart.”

Introduced to the works of social thinker and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, he learned more about the balance between thinking and feeling, and taught at a Waldorf school for several years. “It was the hardest work I ever did, and also the most rewarding.”

He is now a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, where he is co-writing a curriculum about the social and environmental aspects of personal and community health and well-being. He writes and speaks on social entrepreneurship, holistic journalism, community-building and other topics. His journey continues. Struggle to find the humanity in every person by connecting to their heart, he told the students. “Find and feel and follow your heart.”