Line Goguen-Hughes reports on colleges and universities offering contemplative alternatives to conventional forms of study.
A growing number of higher education institutions recognize the value of offering a contemplative dimension within their teaching and programs of study.
At Brown University, medical students may choose contemplative studies as a scholarly concentration. Brown’s Contemplative Studies Initiative aims to study contemplative practices and states within the traditional contexts in which they have been taught, such as Buddhism. It asks students to also investigate newer applications of contemplative practice in science and medicine to identify and test methods to improve health and well-being. The initiative is working toward receiving formal recognition as a program, concentration, or a center to study and teach the underlying philosophy, psychology, and phenomenology of contemplative experience.
The University of Michigan offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in jazz and contemplative studies, one of the first degree programs to integrate a significant contemplative component with conventional coursework. This highly interdisciplinary program combines a solid grounding in jazz and improvised music study with courses involving meditative practice and other contemplative approaches to fostering creativity.
Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, offers a graduate certificate program in spirituality and social work practice. The program provides clinicians with a framework to assess religious and spiritual development. It also explores ethical and social justice concerns from a spiritual perspective.
The Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, represents an interdisciplinary group of faculty, postdocs, and students who come together to share and investigate the application of contemplative practice in society. The collaborative hosts public lectures several times a year.
At Indiana State University, the Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality provides students, professionals, and the surrounding community with educational opportunities to better understand the value of religious and spiritual experience, particularly as it promotes health and well-being. It uses conferences, speakers series, workshops, and course materials to this end.
Anyone interested in exploring contemplative educational opportunities will find the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE) a useful resource. This multidisciplinary academic nonprofit has developed a membership of over six hundred educators, scholars, and administrators working in higher education. The ACMHE promotes the emergence of a broad culture of contemplation by connecting leading institutions and academics committed to developing the contemplative dimension of teaching, learning, and knowing. The association is an initiative of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. Visit acmhe.org for more information.