Summer Session on Contemplative Learning

15th Annual Summer Session on
Contemplative Learning in Higher Education

Sunday, August 4 – Friday, August 9, 2019
Smith College
Northampton, MA

$1350 with meals and accommodations at Smith College $950 for commuters (includes lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday) ACMHE members are eligible for a $50 discount

By coming together to create a supportive, collaborative, and engaging academic community, we can experience how contemplative practices transform higher education.

The Summer Session is a week-long professional development workshop with a unique combination of course development, community building, and experiential learning. Past attendees have referred to it as their “yearly tune up,” as it is a chance for personal reflection and self-care, as well as pedagogical development. Attendees will engage in a range of practices including meditation, mindful movement, art-making, and dialogue. These practices are intended to prepare attendees for the deep inquiry and meaningful self-exploration we hope to foster during our time together. Through plenary presentations, afternoon workshops, and time for practice, we aim to provide a space for participants to look at issues of identity, meaning, and purpose in their roles as educators within higher education and beyond.

A multidisciplinary team of educators with extensive experience across many aspects of higher education will facilitate the week-long workshop, and will provide guidance as you explore how to effectively and responsibly integrate contemplative practices into your work. Presentations and discussions at past Summer Sessions have often been about topics such as social identity; culturally-relevant practices and pedagogy; undoing racism and other forms of oppression in the academy; self-care for educators; facing challenging contexts; and building communities of support and practice.

The 15th ACMHE Summer Session, Contemplative Learning in Higher Education is ideal for higher education professionals (faculty, staff, administrators, graduate students, and researchers) who are seeking to:

  • develop contemplative methods to inform their work in higher education within and beyond classroom settings;
  • examine their own unique identities and experiences to help create inclusive, responsive, inquiry-based learning environments;
  • deepen their own personal practice;
  • build friendships within a diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholar-practitioners.

The workshop will cultivate opportunities for:

  • personal and professional growth and development through contemplative practice, stimulating  discussions, and reflection;
  • working with practice to navigate through the complexities, uncertainties and possible discomforts of new learning experiences;
  • reconnecting with old friends and forging new friendships with colleagues coming from diverse world-views and across many disciplines and types of institutions;
  • facilitating brave spaces to explore the connections between contemplative practice and social justice, and how that informs effective teaching and learning.

It does NOT offer:

  • easy answers and step-by-step solutions; there is no single “how to” that can be applied to this work.

We invite educators, researchers, students, and staff from all higher education disciplines and offices to apply to participate in the 2019 Summer Session on Contemplative Learning.

We encourage you to attend the Summer Session with a project in mind to work on during the week: this can help you help frame your learning and direct your inquiry towards a practical outcome. Projects could include, but are not limited to, designing and developing a co-curricular project, syllabus, curriculum, research project, grant proposal, or faculty learning community. You will have an opportunity to describe your project idea(s) on your summer session application.

How to Apply and Register:

  • The application deadline was Monday, July 15th (to allow us to provide housing and dining information to Smith College). However, we may be able to accommodate you after this date: contact Maya Elinevsky, event coordinator, to inquire.
  • After you are accepted, you’ll receive a link to the online registration form.
  • Register and pay before June 1 to take advantage of the early bird price.

Apply Today

2019 Summer Session Lead Facilitators

LeeRay Costa is Professor and Director of Gender and Women’s Studies at Hollins University. Her research, teaching, and community activism focus on social justice and a desire to understand processes of social change. Trained as a feminist cultural anthropologist, she has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Thailand on women’s activism and non-governmental organizations, and on transgender youth (Male Bodies, Women’s Souls, co-authored with Andrew Matzner), and in Hawai`i on the local food movement. Her scholarly work also focuses on the practice and outcomes of innovative feminist, anti-racist, and contemplative pedagogies. Currently she is exploring the integration of feminist contemplative practices and spirituality into social justice education and social movement activism. In her teaching Dr. Costa seeks to nurture beloved community and to create a transformative learning environment where students feel empowered to think critically and self-reflexively, and where they are inspired to vision and create human flourishing and planetary justice. Her research and teaching have been supported by grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the Mellon, Teagle, and Luce Foundations, and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.

In 2018 Dr. Costa launched the Hollins Contemplative Collective which seeks to cultivate the holistic well-being of faculty, staff, and students and to integrate into curricular and co-curricular life practices of mindfulness and healing that are embodied, inclusive, and both individually and collectively transformative. Costa is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher and 30-year student of yoga. She first learned to meditate in Thailand as a WorldTeach volunteer, and has completed mindfulness meditation training through the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. She currently serves on the organizing committee for the 2019 conference on Contemplative Practices for 21stCentury Education at James Madison University. In 2015 she walked 400 miles on the Camino de Santiago, from Lisbon, Portugal to Santiago, Spain. She writes about this pilgrimage experience and its impact on her teaching in her essay “Sabbatical as Sacred Time: Contemplative Practice and Meaning in the Neoliberal Academy,” published in the Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.

Dr. Costa is also the co-founder of Girls Rock Roanoke, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower girls and women through music, creative expression, and collaboration within a safe space that honors inclusivity and social justice. Since 2012 Girls Rock has supported hundreds of girls and gender non-conforming youth in amplifying their voices and celebrating their gifts as change makers in their own lives and communities.

Katja Hahn d’Errico is Adjunct Professor of Social Justice in the College of Education at University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as Lecturer in Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) and 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.

Vijay Kanagala (Ph.D., Iowa State University) is Associate Professor of Higher Education in Student Affairs, Salem State University.  A former student affairs practitioner with extensive experience in multicultural student affairs, social justice education, and diversity programming and training, Kanagala’s primary research engages with three critical areas of higher education.  These include issues related to 1) college access and success of first-generation, low-income students, 2) collegiate experiences of underrepresented, underserved and understudied students of color, and 3) employing spirituality and contemplative education/pedagogy in student affairs preparation programs.  

A thought leader in contemplative pedagogy and education, Kanagala endeavors to connect the heart and the mind of each learner in a classroom community to ensure holistic student development.  His teaching and learning pedagogy is not only about working with students to cultivate skills and knowledge to be competent student affairs professionals, but is also about creating a transformative classroom experience that invites an ethic of care, compassion and empathy while addressing social-racial-economic-justice issues.  

As a Co-Principal Investigator, Kanagala has successfully secured funding worth $3,858,419 for four major educational research projects.  One of these grants, QuEST, a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Traineeship (NRT) program at UVM, is an innovative and evidence-based model for transforming STEM graduate education training.  Through these projects, he has strongly advocated for the use of asset-based frameworks in educational research (rather than deficit-based frameworks) to ensure that institutions of higher education employ student success frameworks that consider the diverse array of cultural wealth students bring to college.  He has presented 29 peer-reviewed papers and invited symposia on topics related to student success and classroom pedagogy. He is co-author and co-editor of the book, The Latino Student’s Guide to STEM Careers, which focuses on the importance of STEM education for Latinx students and provides a comprehensive array of the most current information students and families need to make informed decisions about entering and succeeding in a STEM career.

Éliane Ubalijoro, PhD, is the founder and executive director of C.L.E.A.R. International Development Inc., a consulting group harnessing global networks for sustainable systems development. She is a professor of practice for public and private sector partnerships at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development, where her research interests focus on innovation and sustainable development for prosperity creation.

Eliane teaches and advises in Leadership programs to help equip executives in international development with tools that support inner and outer sustainable transformation towards global prosperity. She was a facilitator in the International Health Leadership Development Programme (IHLDP) commissioned by the Kenya Red Cross and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance offered by Lancaster University’s Management School. She is a member of Rwanda’s National Science and Technology Council. She has lead and been a co-investigator on grants funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations program. Prior to going back to Academia, she was a scientific research and development director in a Montreal based biotechnology company for five years. She is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council for Rwandan President Paul Kagame, a member of the board of the International Leadership Association, a board of trustees for WWF International and a founding signatory of the Fuji declaration ‎to ignite the divine spark for a thriving world.

She took part in several panels at the 2018 Next Einstein Forum Global gathering and the Gender Summit 14 Climate Change through the Gender Lens: Focus on Africa. Eliane has contributed to several recent books on transformational leadership, including The Transforming Leader: New Approaches to Leadership for the 21st Century (Berrett- Koehler Publishers, 2012), Becoming A Better Leader (Routledge eBook, 2015), Leadership for a Healthy World: Creative Social Change (Emerald, 2016) as well as the award winning Leadership and Power in International Development (Emerald, 2018).

Yuk-Lin Renita Wong’s academic career began at a time when Hong Kong, her city of origin, entered into a transition of sovereignty return to China after more than a century of British colonial rule. This historic period has laid the foundation of her scholarship and teaching. She is a professor in the School of Social Work at York University, Toronto, Canada, on the traditional territory of the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Huron-Wendat, the Métis, and the current treaty holder the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Her research and teaching aim at deconstructing the colonial knowledge production and practice in social work; and re-centering marginalized voices and ways of knowing and being. She has been a mindfulness practitioner since 1998 and leads meditation and mindfulness training in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. She takes up mindfulness as an embodied pedagogy of decolonization and as a critical reflective practice that nurtures wholeness and fierce compassionate awareness in social justice work. In 2012-14, Renita chaired the initiative in her School to strengthen the Indigenous presence in her program. Her latest publication is a co-edited volume titled, Sharing Breath: Embodied Learning and Decolonization (Athabasca University Press, 2018). Alongside her academic life is her community service in end-of-life care, her ultimate meditation that keeps her grounded and brings clarity to her relations to all beings and what is at the heart of what she does.

Workshop Options (to select a workshop on the registration form)

LeeRay Costa: My workshops will be informed by feminist contemplative practices of embodiment, relationality, beloved community, and social justice. Together we will support one another in exploring a variety of contemplative practices and how they can facilitate both self-transformation and community transformation, including that of the classroom, campus, and our wider work-life communities.

Katja Hahn d’Errico: During our afternoon session we will learn with and from each other regarding contemplative practice in academia. By reflecting on our pedagogical and life experiences, we will explore questions around the intent behind bringing contemplative practices into your curriculum, who you are, and who your students are. Participants will take away a foundational design for an integrated contemplative course.

Vijay Kanagala: Many of our journeys to and through higher education and the professional positions we currently dwell within the academy weave deeply personal and professional experiences of joy and woe. In this session, using clay as a metaphor for self and life, you are invited to explore how contemplative pedagogies and practices may alleviate dehumanization and shape our outlook and educational philosophy as educators.

Éliane Ubalijoro: In this experiential workshop, we will explore emergence through collective meditation followed by discussion to explore how to be present with what is. The combination of stillness guided by rhythmic drumming will help us journey from head to heart. The intent is to explore the individual and the collective and the bridges that contemplation can create towards interconnectedness, inner wholeness and transformation.

Renita Wong: In this workshop, we will journey together in exploring and developing decolonial contemplative pedagogy. We will reflect on our individual and collective experience of colonization and decolonization, and our own contemplative practice that supports our intention and action towards decolonization. We will explore and practice some embodied, relational, and land-based contemplative practices that could help nurture decolonial consciousness.

at the Summer Session


If you have any questions, please contact Maya Elinevsky at 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