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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Meet a Faculty Member

Learn more about Jean Watson’s theory of caring.

About Dr. Watson

Dr. Jean Watson is distinguished professor of nursing and holds an endowed chair in caring science at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She is founder of the original Center for Human Caring in Colorado and is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She previously served as dean of nursing at the University Health Sciences Center and is a past president of the National League for Nursing. Her latest activities include founder and director of a new nonprofit foundation: Watson Caring Science Institute.

Dr. Watson has earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing and psychiatric-mental health nursing and holds her PhD in educational psychology and counseling. She is a widely published author and recipient of several awards and honors, including an international Kellogg Fellowship in Australia and a Fulbright Research Award in Sweden. She holds six honorary doctoral degrees, including three international honorary doctorates (Sweden, United Kingdom, and Quebec, Canada).

She has been distinguished lecturer and endowed lecturer at universities throughout the United States and been around the world several times. Clinical nurses and academic programs throughout the world use her published works on the philosophy and theory of human caring and the art and science of caring in nursing.

Dr. Watson's Philosophy

Dr. Watson’s caring philosophy is used to guide transformative models of caring and healing practices for nurses and patients alike, in diverse settings worldwide. Watson has been featured in numerous national videos on nursing theory and the art of nursing. She is the recipient of several national awards, including The Fetzer Institute Norman Cousins Award, in recognition of her commitment to developing; maintaining and exemplifying relationship-centered care practices.

At the University of Colorado, Dr. Watson holds the title of distinguished professor of nursing; the highest honor accorded its faculty for scholarly work. In 1999, she assumed the Murchinson-Scoville Chair in Caring Science, the nation’s first endowed chair in caring science, based at the University of Colorado College of Nursing.

As author/co-author of more than 14 books on caring, her latest books range from empirical measurements of caring, to new postmodern philosophies of caring and healing. Her books have been AJN books of the year awards, seek to bridge paradigms as well as point toward transformative models for the 21st century. A revised edition of her first book, Nursing The Philosophy and Science of Caring is now available - ( A new edition of Assessing and Measuring Caring was published in September 2008 (Springer Publication, NY). Currently she is working on a new revised work on ‘Creating a Caring Science Curriculum for Caring Science’ (Springer in progress).

Caring Science Defined

Caring science encompasses a humanitarian, human science orientation to human caring processes, phenomena and experiences. Caring science includes arts and humanities as well as science. A caring science perspective is grounded in a relational ontology of being-in-relation, and a world view of unity and connectedness of all. Transpersonal caring acknowledges unity of life and connections that move in concentric circles of caring - from individual, to others, to community, to world, to Planet Earth, to the universe.

Caring science investigations embrace inquiries that are reflective, subjective and interpretative as well as objective-empirical and caring science inquiry includes ontological, philosophical, ethical, historical inquiry and studies. In addition, caring science includes multiple epistemological approaches to inquiry including clinical and empirical, but is open to moving into new areas of inquiry that explore other ways of knowing, for example, aesthetic, poetic, narrative, personal, intuitive, kinesthetic, evolving consciousness, intentionality, metaphysical - spiritual, as well as moral-ethical knowing.

Caring science is an evolving new field that is grounded in the discipline of nursing and evolving nursing science, but more recently includes other fields and disciplines in the academy, for example, women/feminist studies, education, ecology, peace studies, philosophy/ethics, arts and humanities, mind-body-spirit medicine. As such, caring science is rapidly becoming an Interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary field of study. It has relevance to all the health, education and human service fields and professions.