James W. Ptak, EdD
With great sadness, we share with our Fielding community that alum James W. Ptak, EdD, passed away on November 12, 2021. In his dissertation, titled “From Chaos to Individual and Collective Well-Being: A Worldview Transformation (Engaging Concentration-Activated Transformation within Soliloquy),” he explored a personal journey of moving from a dominant worldview (DW) toward Indigenous worldview (IW). Dr. Ptak described his dissertation as first-person, soliloquy research that enabled him, as a dominant worldview-oriented individual, “to embrace, persist, and prevail in Indigenous wisdom-based well-being to gain balance and harmony within myself, my sense of humanity, and nature.” An anonymous donor made a generous contribution to honor Dr. Ptak’s legacy and support research that builds on Dr. Ptak’s work. The award is available to students entering Fielding in 2022, and whose approved dissertation proposal explores Indigenous worldview.
Dr. Ptak built on his 45 years of wellness expertise in his research. He aspired to educate people at his wellness center as well as the global community about Indigenous wisdom. He believed that true well-being begins with “self” and “relational” attunement with others. He wrote about how this was possible through the conditioning practice of integrating the functional areas of the mid prefrontal cortex with intentioned actions, mindfulness, meditation, nutrition, diet, and spirituality, which he attributed to the essence of the Indigenous worldview. He posited that by shifting worldviews from the dominant to Indigenous, our society could “solve the problems we face today, perhaps healing the pandemic of stress-induced chronic disease, and the destruction of our environment.”
Dr. Ptak was an amazing father, grandfather, mentor, and dear friend to many people. Before graduating from Fielding, he held a bachelor of science degree in Human Biology and Physical Education from New York University and a master’s in Human Resources from the University of San Francisco. He was twice certified through American College Sports Medicine and was a 4th-degree black belt instructor of TaiKwonDo, Hapkido, and Judo trained in Trigger Point Therapy. In 1990, while riding his motorcycle, a drunk driver came into his lane. Since the accident, he was confined to a wheelchair owing to spinal damage, but he never let his condition stop him from living a wonderful and generous life.
If you wish to support the Dr. Jim Ptak Award for Indigenous Worldview Research, please contribute to the Fielding Student Research Fund in memory of Dr. Ptak.