There is growing interest and even involvement among educators in adding the practices of contemplation and meditation to the college curriculum, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education (Oct. 21).
Contemplative practices are now found in a range of college courses and programs–from economics to art history and music. As neuroscience has recently discovered the mental and physical benefits of meditation, professors are using contemplative practices as a form of “mental hygiene” for students. Beyond that, some educators believe that meditation can help students achieve insight and “enlightenment” in the learning process, writes John Gravois.
Leading the way in promoting the use of meditation in curriculum is the Northampton, Mass.-based Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society, which has recently teamed up with the American Council of Learned Societies to give out fellowships for professors wanting to integrate contemplative components into their curricula.
Integrating contemplation into classroom curricula takes very different forms. An economics professor at Emory University has drawn up a syllabus requiring students to meditate on pictures of poor people, while the University of Michigan School of Music uses contemplative practices in their jazz program to stimulate creativity. While some critics have charged that this development amounts to bringing spirituality and “pseudoscience” into the classroom, most students have given these exercises positive reviews.