Dr. Dirk Dunbar
Dirk Dunbar was born on April 1, 1954 in Cadillac, Michigan, to Leo and Betty Dunbar, who taught him, along with his older siblings, Patti and Gary, and younger ones, Dave and Shawn, that love is the purpose of human existence. Leo built their home on a hill surrounded by forests, where Dirk developed a lifelong affinity for sunsets, seasons, animals, and the sacred in the natural. He spent much of his childhood pursuing a dream of playing in the NBA, and would have if not for multiple knee operations. A two-time high school All American, he led the U.S. in scoring with a 38.5 average as a senior. After sorting through nearly 200 scholarship offers, he chose Central Michigan, where he was third leading scorer in the Mid-American Conference as a freshman. Following his first two operations, he changed his major from religion to philosophy and spent the majority of the next two seasons on the bench watching his team play. Following a third operation, Dunbar transferred to Eckerd College and set the school’s single game and season scoring records. Despite his athletic achievements and accolades, his studies became increasingly important and his classes and dissertation at Eckerd helped set the course of his academic interests and career.
With the motto, “have jump shot will travel,” Dunbar played and coached in Europe for eight seasons—beginning in Iceland. His first year he led Europe in scoring with nearly 40 points per game and helped his team become the first one from Iceland to play in the European Cup Games. He studied at the University of Iceland and made some lifelong friendships. After another knee operation cut short his second season, he healed while finishing A Matter of Perspective, which was published in 1978. Written in a diary format, the work contains poetry, drawings and paintings, philosophical meanderings, and general ravings about “finding meaning in the cosmic configuration called consciousness.” Dunbar coached and played in Ober-Ramstadt the following year, taught basketball at the Technical University of Darmstadt, and studied German. He played and/or coached in Aschaffenburg, Munich, Bamberg, and Nurnberg the following seasons, in which time studied humanities at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and religion at the University of Bamberg. He also learned to play keyboards, joined a Rock band, worked as a sports director at U.S. Army base, and—most importantly—met Ulrike Meier, a professional ballerina. After a two-year courtship, they married and spent two terrific years in Nurnberg and traveled extensively, including trips to Greek islands and down the Nile River.
The time living and traveling in Europe provided Dunbar the opportunity to answer the perennial question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Always a voracious reader and interested in continuing education, he realized one day, after delivering a presentation on new-paradigm theory in a humanities course at Bamberg University, he wanted to teach. So, aware it was time to start anew, he and Ulli moved to Florida, where Dunbar earned his Masters and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Humanities at UWF and FSU, respectively. His dissertation led to The Balance of Nature’s Polarities in New-Paradigm Theory, which was published in 1994. The book centers on the evolution of human consciousness and culture in terms of three chronological paradigms: Earth wisdom, the West’s reason-as-virtue worldview, and the rise of ecocentrism. With all of the highlights of their time in Pensacola and Tallahassee, nothing came close to the joy and purpose bestowed by the birth of their twins, Julia and Jeremy.
Dunbar accepted a job teaching humanities at a premiere environmental school, Unity College in Maine, where he taught for four years, served as the Chair of the humanities department and the Student Environmental Action Coalition, received the college’s Merit Achievement Award, and was a student-selected graduation banquet speaker. Part of a community of kindred spirits, he and his family enjoyed the wilderness, canoeing and camping, and afternoons exploring the rocky coast. During the so-called Storm of the Century, Annabelle decided to grace the planet with her presence. Along with friendships, classes and conferences, and festivals of all sorts, the Dunbar family loved their time in Unity. However, when the chance to move back to the Emerald Coast of the Florida panhandle presented itself, they packed their bags and shared some fond farewells. Now in their twentieth year at Northwest Florida State College, Dirk and Ulli have made Niceville their home. Along with being rewarded with two grants from the Center of Theology and Natural Science and publishing multiple articles, Dunbar is in the process of publishing two new books, Confessions of a Basketball Junkie and Renewing the Balance. Still sharing the heuristics of the human odyssey with family, friends, and students, Dunbar relishes the moments he shares with his Mom, his kids, and extended families. Jeremy, engaged to Gloria, an amazing Mexican tennis player, is in his fifth season playing pro basketball in Germany. Julia lives in Atlanta, owns and operates Georgie May Essential Oils, and is the mother of a beautiful two-year old girl, Mayson Maria. Annabelle is on the verge of earning her Environmental Studies B.A. at UCF. In short, as Dunbar proclaims often, “Life is good.”