The Arthur Zajonc Lectures on Contemplative Education

The Arthur Zajonc Lecture Series on Contemplative Education presents lectures on contemplative pedagogy, epistemology, and learning.

The series honors Arthur Zajonc’s groundbreaking work in the field as a distinguished thought leader and committed teacher by enabling eminent scholars and educators to share their insights and experience in integrating contemplative practices and perspectives into higher education across the disciplines.

The series continues Arthur’s work in building the education needed for a society based on compassion, inclusion, care for each other and the earth, and respect for the interconnection of all life.

2021 Lecturer: Dr. Monika L. Son

Es aquí donde sanamos: It is here where we need to heal

How practice supports showing up to the truth of suffering in ourselves, our institutions and the world

Originally broadcast on Thursday, August 5th, 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic, climate harm and the reckoning of justice we are witnessing, are screaming that the world needs transformative change. We cannot escape the knowing that there is deep suffering in the world. The force of it all has been overwhelming; we are being called to take action. Are we ready?

Contemplative practice invites us to consider that it is not our intellectual or conceptual understanding that causes us to act, but rather the felt sense of knowing that we are not separate from the suffering of the world; we suffer and we contribute to that suffering.  As challenging as it may be to be carried by the force of these waters, when we allow ourselves to be resourced by this truth and surrender to it, we become part of the world, rather than observers.

This talk will invite us into deep inquiry and reflection about where we find ourselves in our practice and how we navigate these overwhelming truths.  How do we cultivate presence and capacity to be in overwhelm? In our personal lives?  In our work and institutions? How do we show compassion to ourselves? How do we contribute to suffering/ harm? How do we relieve it? How do we stay connected to ourselves and one another? How do we generate courage and discernment to free what is true for us in our work?

This talk will explore the ways in which practice can really bring us to where we need to heal.

Monika L. Son is an Assistant Professor, Chair and Director of the Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. A self-proclaimed rejector of roles and categories, Dr. Son is known for walking to the beat of her own drum. Guided by heart-spirit, the ancestors, and palpable connections to suffering in the world, her calling has been grounded in finding ways to be free from the conditions of oppression to discover paths to self-realization, connection to the world and radical love. She is a mind, body, spirit teacher, healer, coach, truth-teller and a fierce loving warrior-leader.

With 20 years of experience in higher education as a justice-centered scholar and teacher, Dr. Son integrates mindfulness and contemplative practices to foster spaces for building community, compassionate engagement and healing oriented strategies that cultivate critical inquiry and action. As a trained psychologist and expert facilitator, she is skilled at supporting discomfort and ambiguity in challenging dialogues about race, power, privilege, and oppression. In her current role as Chair, she is co-building curricular strategies that center on resourcing resilience and undoing the impact of oppressive and racist pedagogy via critical methodologies such as contemplative, embodied, restorative, and Freirean approaches. She is most passionate about building strategies that support the undoing of internalized oppression and movement towards transformative change.

Monika Son
Arthur Zajonc

Dr. Arthur Zajonc

Arthur Zajonc is the former director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and former president of the Mind & Life Institute. He is also emeritus professor of physics at Amherst College, where he taught from 1978 to 2012. He was a visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the Universities of Rochester and Hannover. He was a Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. His research includes studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities, and contemplative traditions. As director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Zajonc fostered the use of contemplative practice in college and university classrooms, and developed the foundations for contemplative pedagogy. He coauthored The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal with Parker Palmer. Out of this work and his long-standing meditative practice, Zajonc authored Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love, and contributed to the Psychology Today blog on meditation. He served as general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, was a co-founder of the Kira Institute, president of the Lindisfarne Association, and a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.
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Lecture Recordings

Dr. Lenwood W. Hayman, Jr.

"Radical Love as a Public Health Initiative"

Presented by Lenwood Hayman (Associate Professor of Public Health, Morgan State University)
on Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

Dr. Veta Goler

"If the Beautiful See Themselves, They Will Love Themselves: Contemplative Practice and Cultural Healing"

Presented by Veta Goler (Associate Professor and Chair of Dance Performance & Choreography Co-Director of the Teaching Resource and Research Center Spelman College) on Wednesday, August 8, 2018.

Dr. Paul Wapner

"Across the Divides: A Pedagogy of Love"

Presented by Paul Wapner (Professor, School for International Service, American University) on Wednesday, August 9, 2017.


This lecture series is made possible through the generous support of the Fetzer Institute, an anonymous foundation, and individual donors.

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