What is Contemplative Education?
"Real education consists in drawing the best out of yourself. What better book can there be than the book of humanity?" —Mahatma Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers
Contemplative education has been at the core of the Naropa experience since our founding in 1974 as a vision to bring together the best of Western scholarship and Eastern world wisdom traditions. It combines three distinct educational approaches to deliver an innovative liberal arts curriculum on the forefront of American higher education. Engaging the whole person in the learning journey, contemplative education fuels curiosity, creativity, self-awareness, and critical thinking; unleashes innovation; and fosters a desire to serve. It is the core of what makes a Naropa University education a deep and profound way to learn.
Three Educational Approaches
At Naropa, learning is a journey integrating three educational approaches, known as the "three modes of inquiry," that define contemplative education:
Traditional Academics or "third-person" inquiry
Like most universities, we ask you to explore and succeed in traditional academic learning: you will study the work and the insights of others, known here as "third-person inquiry." Studying the ancient or modern-day experiences and discoveries of others, whether they are philosophers, scientists, psychologists, historians, artists, or religious scholars, is a critical element of contemplative education. You will also learn methods of observation and scientific research, the foundation of inquiry. But at Naropa we believe that this is not enough.
Experiential Learning or "second-person" inquiry
Contemplative education at Naropa goes beyond third-person inquiry to include interactive, interpersonal engagement both inside and outside the classroom. These experiences are designed to challenge you, allowing you to translate the skills you develop in the classroom into skills built for your life and chosen career. Learning from experience, known at Naropa as "second-person inquiry" and more widely known as "experiential education," includes intentional opportunities for your personal discovery and group learning to help build your confidence, self-awareness, and intuition, preparing you to become a leader who is ready and able to make a positive impact. These opportunities may include internships, service learning, and mentorship from expert and accomplished practitioners from many disciplines.
Contemplative or "first-person" inquiry
The defining element of contemplative education is personal reflection, the integration of contemplative practices of mindfulness and awareness into the student journey at Naropa. It begins with mindfulness and blossoms into respect for inner wisdom that brings creativity and personal meaning to your learning journey. These practices include embodiment practices of the arts and traditional Eastern arts. In addition to teaching traditional academics and interpersonal inquiry, our faculty offers the tools needed so that you successfully navigate the challenges inherent in contemplative inquiry. By weaving meditation, mindfulness and compassion practices into the curriculum, Naropa encourages you to learn in a genuinely holistic and meaningful way and discover a compassionate connection with the world, leading to service.