Supporting Our Current & Future Initiatives

What sort of world shall we create together?

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Dear Friends,

Even as we continue to struggle with social, racial, and cultural division, our common interrelatedness has never been more apparent. Our collective actions are changing the planet in profound ways. While we can connect, share information, and respond to challenges in ways only dreamed of in science fiction a century ago, we are also continuing to live in ways that systematically shape some communities for thriving and uplift, and others for decimation and decline. We are altering the global climate, ocean levels, the rate of species’ extinction, even the earth’s rotation. The increased rate and extent of human influence has led geologists to call the epoch in which we live the “Anthropocene”—the epoch whose trajectory is determined by human action and interaction.

What sort of world shall we create together? How can we realize new possibilities for our common future? Higher education must rise to this political, social, and economic challenge by providing environments which foster an inquiry into meaning and tools for reflective inquiry and engaged action. If we are to co-create a world aligned with our clarified intentions, access to these educational environments and opportunities must be available to all.

As you well know, we at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society have been deeply engaged in this process for 20 years. We are committed to integrating reflection and contemplation into higher education to support personal, relational, institutional, and systemic transformation. Our work to forge these developments—throughout higher education, in every kind of institution—is providing the ground from which students, faculty, staff, and administration can lead radical social, economic, and political change that directly addresses the growing suffering and inequities that plague our nation and our world. In his speech at Oberlin College in 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. dramatically addressed these issues. He proclaimed:

All I’m saying is simply this: that all mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be—this is the interrelated structure of reality.

John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms: No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… And then he goes on toward the end to say: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. And by believing this, by living out this fact, we will be able to remain awake through a great revolution.

Please join us in remaining awake through the great revolution that we are fostering throughout higher education. Your generous support can help us change the culture of higher education and foster a society based on connection, respect, belonging, equity, and love.

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May you be well,

Daniel P. Barbezat
Executive Director, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Professor of Economics, Amherst College

Rhonda V. Magee
President of the Board, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Professor of Law, University of San Francisco

Our Recent Work & Future Plans

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A Commitment to Just Community

How can we all create conditions for broad, meaningful participation in our educational institutions and throughout society, especially for those whose voices have been marginalized?

Throughout our events and initiatives we host conversations about higher education and identity, anti-racism and anti-oppression, and the power structures in our society and our educational institutions. To support our program development, we are establishing an advisory committee of leaders experienced in working across differences to foster transformation.

Membership in the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education has doubled since May 2013. The ACMHE, an initiative of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, is an academic association connecting an international network of higher education professionals: faculty, researchers, administrators, staff, and graduate students from an amazing breadth of academic disciplines and institutions.

In the last year, your support helped us provide more resources to our growing ACMHE member community than ever before: sample syllabi, audio and video, an email discussion list, a member newsletter, an online member directory, and The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry, the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to contemplative methods in higher education settings.

 

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Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning Center Grant Program 
With funding from the 1440 Foundation and the Mind & Life Institute, our grant program for college and university Centers for Teaching and Learning expanded in 2014. 10 centers are hosting speakers and events on contemplative pedagogy, coordinating study groups and research networks, and developing new resources to foster reflection and meaningful learning. In September, grantees gathered at Amherst College to discuss effective teaching with contemplative methods.

Civic Engagement & Community-Based Learning
To demonstrate the benefits of contemplative inquiry to community-based learning, we are seeking support to establish a grant program for service-learning projects facilitated by contemplative practices. We hope to begin with pilot programs at two institutions and a gathering for students and their community learning partners.

Fellowships For Education Faculty
We are seeking funding to establish a new fellowship program to support reflection and inquiry in primary and secondary education, helping students become better prepared for post-secondary education and throughout their lives.

 

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2014 Events

Academic Retreats
Our retreats support academic professionals in developing their personal practice—an essential pre-requisite for effective use of contemplative methods in education. In February and May 2014, 60 educators came together for reflection, meditation, creative expression, and discussion in Washington, DC and Amherst, MA. We’re planning more retreats for spring 2015.

The 6th Annual ACMHE Conference
The ACMHE conferences address crucial issues on the theory and practice of contemplative education. Our 2014 conference, Intention, Method, and Evaluation (October 10 – 12 at the University of Washington, Seattle), explored the relationships between evaluation methods and pedagogical intention. Our 2015 conference will be hosted at Howard University in Washington, DC.

Contemplative Higher Education Workshop
At this August 22 – 24 workshop at the Omega Institute, participants explored how contemplative practices create educational environments that support engaged learning and personal and social transformation, and considered how these practices might be integrated into their unique institutional settings.

Summer Session on Contemplative Pedagogy
For 10 years, our annual Summer Sessions have provided a unique, intensive opportunity for experiencing, discussing, and developing contemplative approaches to teaching and learning. The 2014 Summer Session—with over 90 participants, our largest ever—included presentations, workshops, and practices led by Daniel Barbezat (Amherst College/CMind), Anne Beffel (Michigan Technological University), Grace Bullock (Mind & Life Institute), Mirabai Bush (CMind), Bradford Grant (Howard University), Frank Grindrod (Earthwork), Katja Hahn D’Errico (UMass Amherst), James McNaughton (Adventure In Adventure Out), Anna Passalacqua (Breathing Deeply Yoga), Rose Sackey-Milligan (c-Integral), and Paula Sager (Mariposa Center/Circles of Four).

ISCS Pre-Conference
Contemplative education, transformative education: how can these approaches support systemic change? The pre-conference of the Mind & Life Institute’s 2014 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies, October 30th  in Boston, MA, explored barriers to personal and social transformation in educational systems. Our director, Daniel Barbezat, helped envision and design the event.

 

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We are very grateful for your support!