Contemplative Education

In the Religious Studies Department, contemplative education includes not only the contemplative practices of a range of religious traditions but also the very way in which the classes are taught.

A common thread in classes is that, within the overall goal of mastering the content of a specific course, there is the basic supposition that the material at hand is important to all of us as humans, for both faculty and students; we are studying ourselves at the same time as we are studying a body of knowledge.

Classes then involve a blend of academic rigor in developing mastery of a body of material along with a capacity to apply the material to ourselves and to how we relate with others.

A contemplative environment is created through the ways in which the faculty member presents material and engages the students in the learning process. This manifests in how the teachers join lived experience with the class material, however technical that content may be.

Students also engage individual contemplative practices according to their interests and the degree programs they select. There are specific classes on contemplative practices; additionally, the department works with individual students to arrange meditation instructors and mentors to support their practices.

While the degree programs require students to engage in contemplative practices, there is no presumption as to whether the students identify themselves as belonging to a specific tradition. There is a presumption that students are interested in exploring such practices, but it is up to the students as to how this relates to their life overall.