2018 Summer Session

14th Annual Summer Session on
Contemplative Learning in Higher Education

Sunday, August 5 – Friday, August 10, 2018
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Attendance is by application. Additional spaces have become available: Apply Now.


The Summer Session on Contemplative Learning is a week-long intensive that prepares higher education professionals with resources to:

  • design and develop contemplative methods for their courses;
  • create inclusive, inquiry-based learning environments; and
  • incorporate contemplative awareness and practice within all aspects of higher education.

We invite educators, researchers, students, and professionals from all higher education disciplines and offices (e.g., counseling, student affairs, athletics, administration) to apply to participate in the 2018 Summer Session. Each applicant should plan to bring a project to the session, as each day will include significant time for project development. Projects could include, but are not limited to, designing and developing a syllabus, curriculum, research project, grant proposal, or faculty learning community. We will ask you to describe your proposed project on your application form.


We seek applicants with a breadth and depth of experience from diverse personal and academic backgrounds, including, but not limited to, racial, ethnic, and gender identity; types of institutions; and disciplines and positions in higher education. Last year’s gathering included about 100 total participants.

This year’s Summer Session will be facilitated by a multidisciplinary team of educators with extensive experience across many aspects of higher education. The Summer Session leaders will provide a framework for you to effectively and responsibly integrate contemplative practices into your work. You will have a chance to engage in practices for your own personal development, as well as your professional development. You will have opportunities to reflect on your own, and time to work with others and learn collaboratively, deepening your understanding of a variety of contemplative practices and exploring methods for incorporating them into college classrooms, campuses, and beyond.

Mornings will focus on practice. Participants will be guided through practices designed for academic settings, and learn the context and thought process behind each shared practice. Afternoon workshops will provide participants the opportunity to fine-tune projects they have brought with them, and leaders will be present in these sessions to provide guidance. These two components–practices and workshops–form the core experience of the week.  

Each day offers a variety of opportunities for professional development, but the Summer Session is also a time for personal development. It offers a chance to engage deeply with contemplative practices, to reconnect with old friends, and to forge new connections with like-minded colleagues from across many disciplines. On the last night of the week we will have the ever-popular Open Mic night to celebrate our time together. Please feel free to bring poetry, any instruments easy to travel with, and other forms of self expression you wish to share with the group.

Please note that all of our available financial aid for this event has already been awarded. We are currently raising funds to build our access grant fund. Please make a donation to support it if you can!

2018 Summer Session Leaders: Biosketches & Workshop Descriptions

When registering, each participant will select a workshop. The workshop will meet each afternoon and will include open time for working on your projects, as well as opportunities for guided practice and discussion.  We will do our best to give you your first choice, and we will contact you if a workshop is over capacity. Details of the workshop descriptions are subject to change, depending on participants’ needs.

Katja Hahn d’Errico is Adjunct Professor of Social Justice in the College of Education at University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as, Program Director of the IMPACT: Service Learning Residential Academic Program. In Impact, first year students connect academic learning and mindfulness in their service placements in community organizations. For the last 20 years Katja has integrated contemplative practice into her academic curriculum and leadership seminars. Contemplative practice guides her work beyond abstract academic theory into daily life. Katja’s ethos is to work with compassion towards a more just world within and without the academic world.

Afternoon Workshop Series: Integrating Contemplative Practice into Your Academic Curriculum
with Katja Hahn d’Errico

The purpose of this workshop is to gain realistic and approachable concepts to assimilate contemplative practice into your academic curriculum. 

In our small group, we will share and reflect personal contemplative practices within our diverse academic fields of inquiry. Participants will explore why it is important to teach contemplative practices to students. 

The sessions focus is on social identities, both educator and students, and reflects upon issues of power, privilege and oppression in academia. Through contemplative practices and reflection, the group will be able to mitigate and deepen learning with compassion and an open heart. 

We will explore and develop ideas and skills of how to integrate contemplative practice into your teaching. Finally, participants will group workshop their plan for integrating contemplative practice into their curriculum.

Dr. Kamilah Majied has been a practicing Buddhist for 36 years. She has taught domestically and internationally about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness and racial justice, Buddhism and mental health, mindfulness practices as a path towards preserving the environment and contemplative practices in education. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work and is Co-Editor of a Special Issue on Peace, Reconciliation and Non- Violent Conflict Resolution. Dr. Majied gave opening remarks at the first White House Conference of Buddhist Leaders on Climate Change and Racial Justice, where she also facilitated the dialogue on ending racism amongst the internationally represented Buddhist leadership. She is one of the original authors of the Buddhist People of Color Statement Calling for Racial Justice published by Lion’s Roar magazine. Dr. Majied serves as facilitator for the North American Buddhist Alliance’s ongoing dialogues on Buddhism, mindfulness practices and social justice. A member of the Association of the Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, Dr. Majied employs contemplative pedagogy and mindfulness practices in both clinical practice and education. Dr. Kamilah Majied is a mental health clinician, clinical educator, researcher, author and international consultant on the impact of oppression on mental health and social functioning. Her scholarship focuses on racism, sexism, homophobia, heterosexism and other forms of social oppression. Dr. Majied has conducted research and presented on mental health, social development and education in various parts of the world including Japan, Trinidad, Iceland, the Bahamas, Copenhagen, Jamaica, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Egypt, Haiti, Gambia and Cuba. As a consultant, she works to make health and human service organizations more culturally competent. Dr. Majied is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Howard University. She has successfully assisted various University-based, national and international entities in developing programming that welcomes and supports diversity, addresses disparities and advances organizational and community wellness.

Afternoon Workshop Series: Contemplative Practices Towards Liberating Pedagogy: Experiencing Absolute Freedom in the Process and Products of Education
with Kamilah Majied 

These sessions will lead participants through contemplative practices that allow them to explore their early experiences of learning with a particular focus on catching and releasing aspects of internalized oppression or biases against oneself learned in educational contexts.  Participants will be guided through meditations and other reflective practices that help them to notice how all oppressions including adultism, racism, sexism, homophobia, men’s oppression and ableism are institutionalized in schools, manifest in interpersonal relationships and often internalized as self-loathing or self-limiting. 

The goal of the sessions is to move participants towards insight into their own internalized oppression and offer contemplative practices that can be used to reiteratively unshackle one’s view of self, one’s intentions as an educator and one’s academic work as a whole from these unconscious biases. This will be followed by exercises that enable participants to practice contemplative activities that help students to notice and unbind themselves from internalized oppression towards liberating students’ self-concept and advancing students’ self-actualization.   

Vaishali Mamgain received her PhD. in Economics from the University of North Carolina. She is a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Southern Maine (USM). She is also the director of the upcoming Center for Compassion at USM. Her research focuses on the contributions that (im)migrants and refugees make to the Maine economy. Her most recent work relates to the role of migrant workers in Maine’s blueberry industry. She is also very engaged in the newly emerging field of Contemplative Pedagogy. By helping students cultivate an attitude of open inquiry, she invites them to study contentious topics using different modalities in order to evoke an intelligence that is grounded in a sense of ethics and personal responsibility as world citizens. She has recently completed a 3 year meditation retreat in Samten Ling Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado.

Afternoon Workshop Series: Play, Perception and Participation: Embodying Awareness in the Classroom
with Vaishali Mamgain

Playfulness can be a way to encourage alternative (and forgotten) ways of perceiving the world. Can different ways of perception evoke participation that transcends a mere cognitive knowing? This workshop will focus on helping participants develop syllabi or projects that interleave play and embodied exercises within the specificity of their discipline. Playful participation allows us to deepen our sense of interconnectedness and with that as a basis, we can design projects that allow fresh perception to arise.

 Dr. Kerr Mesner is an independent scholar, and was an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Arcadia University. Kerr is also a queer Christian minister and theologian, a theatre performer and educator, and an activist. Kerr completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. Kerr’s doctoral research explored performative autoethnography, queer theology, and anti-oppressive education in addressing religiously rooted anti-queer violence, and includes an original one-act play written and performed by Mesner. The dissertation was awarded the Recipient of the 2014 AERA Division B: Curriculum Studies Dissertation Award. Kerr’s current areas of research and writing include gender and sexual diversity in education, trans and gender nonconforming identities, arts-based educational research, contemplative educational practices, and anti-oppressive approaches to education. Kerr recently completed a new play exploring the experiences of transgender lives in our current political climate, and premiered this play in Canada in Spring 2018.

Afternoon Workshop Series: Embodied Lectio Divina: Drawing on our Bodies’ Wisdom for Personal and Communal Practice
with Kerr Mesner

Kerr will be sharing a practice of embodied Lectio Divina, where we will combine a Lectio practice (meditative, reflective engagement with a text) with Augusto Boal’s Image Theatre techniques. We will explore the ways that our embodied wisdom can help us to deepen our understanding of a text, and to access ways of knowing that engage our entire body more fully. These practices are accessible and adaptable to participants with all ranges of disability and ability, and require no prior theatre experience.

The workshop time will interweave the embodied lectio divina process with the projects students bring to help participants delve into the particular questions, issues, and ideas that are most relevant for their particular projects. The hope is to discover, together, ways of accessing our body’s knowledge to guide us as we plan and develop our projects.

This workshop draws on Kerr’s decades of experience as a contemplative educator, participatory theatre facilitator, and queer/trans performing artist. Kerr’s own research and teaching focuses on the intersections of transgender studies, queer Christian theologies, performance and participatory theatre, anti-oppressive education, and activism.

Alberto López Pulido considers himself a fronterizo or border person who has spent the majority of his life living and experiencing the U.S. – Mexico political border. He is professor and founding chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego where he challenges his students to look within themselves through reflexive assignments by applying the power of both words and creativity in the form of autobiographies, autoethnographies and cajitas or sacred boxes. The things he values most as an educator and guide come from his family and community elders. Alberto is the author of several publications and is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker in Chicana/o/x Studies, Chicana/o/x Sacred Worlds, Chicana/o/x Material Cultures, Ethnic Studies Pedagogy and Community Studies. He is currently at work on a book on what he has come to understand as Emotive Pedagogy that utilizes a contemplative framework.

Afternoon Workshop Series: Looking Back – Looking Within: Cajitas, Homeland and My Story
with Alberto López Pulido

You are invited into a space of meditation and prayer as practiced and manifested through Guided Autobiography and the imagining and creation of sacred boxes known as Cajitas. Cajitas are usually small wooden boxes filled with significant personal and sacred belongings as well as family “artifacts” carried by Mexican migrants during travels, including movement across real and symbolic borders and borderlands during the mid to late 20th century.  These boxes offer an orientation (a sense of place and belonging) as people in motion traverse new and unfamiliar spaces. In my thirty-five years of teaching, the practice of cajita-making has proven to be a most effective way of affirming, validating, authenticating and transforming students of color in higher education.

The purpose of this workshop is to look both back and within as you create your own Cajita in order to familiarize yourselves with the practice so you can teach it to others.  We will engage in a series of practices and exercises throughout the week culminating in the creation and sharing of your Cajita. Participants are encouraged to bring images or representations of their “sacred belongings” as a substitute for the actual items and construction paper will serve as the canvas for your cajita-making project. Additional sensory-based expressions such as sound (music) may emerge through deeper meditation and is both welcomed and appreciated.

As a practice born out of a life experience and orientation guided by ethnic studies, this workshop explores how cajita-making is grounded in a community-based epistemology and will explore the challenges and opportunities it brings to contemplative studies in offering up new and different ways of knowing in higher education and beyond.  Therefore, participants are introduced to a new pedagogic imaginary and radical epistemology that utilizes “situated contemplation and transgenerational knowledge” as unique contemplative practices and different ways of knowing. This represents an overarching quest and/or question of this workshop.

Monika L. Son joined the Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York in 2003 and was awarded tenure in 2009. She has served as a faculty for Education and Justice and counselor for over 14 years. Since Fall of 2012, Dr. Son has led SEEK’s counseling component as the Counseling Coordinator. Dr. Son completed her Master’s in Education and Counseling at the Fordham Graduate School of Education in 2002. She received her license in Mental Health Counseling (2006) and was awarded a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center (2013). Dr. Son, who is also an experienced yogi and Zen meditation practitioner incorporates the use of mindfulness in her counseling and supervision practices. Her most recent contributions to fusing the world of academia and meditation have been opportunities to lead her department’s annual professional retreats, appearing on KBS (Korean Broadcasting System), being invited to teach a course on Spirituality and Counseling and Human Services and beginning an apprenticeship in Somatic Leadership.

Afternoon Workshop Series: Growing and Supporting Students’ Comfort with Discomfort when Facilitating Discussions about Education, Justice and  Critical Consciousness
with Monika Son

These workshops will be supportive for participants who teach or work with students from low-income, marginalized /oppressed communities. The practices and discussions we will engage in will hold space for critical discussions of what students from these communities face in the classroom, as well as support creative pedagogy that engages students in ways that do not reproduce oppression and trauma.

In supporting students’ growing comfort with discomfort, we will also be supporting our own capacity to tolerate ambiguity of where these discussions might lead using contemplative practices. Workshop activities will be designed to slowly build your tolerance for discomfort by bringing attention to the immediacy of embodied sensations as well as aiming to  uncover some emotional tendencies and biases when working with this population. Discussion and reflections on practices, including challenges, will be encouraged as a way to promote students’ healing as well as our own.

at the Summer Session


If you have any questions, please contact Maya Elinevsky at Maya@contemplativemind.org or at 413-582-0071.


Smith College Campus Center


Reports on Past Summer Sessions

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2006 (sorry, our 2005 and 2007 reports are unavailable!)


2014 Summer Session ReportReport on the Tenth Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Pedagogy
Smith College, Northampton, MA
August 3 – 8, 2014


2013-summersession-reportReport on the Ninth Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Pedagogy
Smith College, Northampton, MA
August 4 – 9, 2013


Report on the 2012 Summer Session on Contemplative PedagogyReport on the Eighth Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Pedagogy
Smith College, Northampton, MA
July 29 – August 3, 2012


Report on the 2011 Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum DevelopmentReport on the Seventh Annual Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development
Smith College, Northampton, MA
August 7 – 12, 2011


Report on the 2010 Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum DevelopmentReport on the 2010 Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development
Smith College, Northampton, MA
August 8 – 13, 2010



Report on the 2009 Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum DevelopmentReport on the 2009 Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development
Smith College, Northampton, MA
August 9 – 14, 2009



Report on the 2008 Summer Curriculum Development SessionReport on the 2008 Summer Curriculum Development Session
Smith College, Northampton, MA
August 3 – 8, 2008



2006 Academic Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum DevelopmentReport on the 2006 Academic Summer Session on Contemplative Curriculum Development
Smith College, Northampton, MA
August 13 – 18, 2006