Transforming Higher Education Through Contemplative Practices
June 21 - 23, 2024
Three-day Conference in San Marcos, California
We invite you to join us for a three-day international conference on how contemplative practices can transform higher education. The unprecedented events of the last several years have made it evident that we need to prepare ourselves and our students to be resilient in the face of constant uncertainty, to be compassionate and collaborative in our efforts to find solutions to local and global problems, and how to acknowledge each other’s humanity and treat each other with respect and dignity. In other words, we need to transform higher education. Research has demonstrated that contemplative practices can expand our capacity for compassion, focus and resilience.
Contemplative practices can also help us to manage stress and to develop the ability to listen and speak with kindness and curiosity. As a result, we are better able to meet collective local and global challenges with the intention of finding shared purpose grounded in a common humanity.
This conference will provide a forum for experts and novices from all fields to explore, learn and share contemplative practices that can help transform the educational experience of our students and improve the wellbeing of our faculty, staff and students. Come join us for a conversation about how we can use contemplative practices to transform higher education.
Our long-term goal is to create a global contemplative community of educators-scholars- practitioners that can nourish and sustain our teaching, research, service, and personal practice.
We are excited to announce our keynote speaker Rhonda Magee!!!
Our keynote speaker Rhonda Magee, M.A., J.D., is a professor of law at the University of San Francisco. Also trained in sociology and mindfulness-based stress reduction, she is a highly practiced and world renowned facilitator of trauma-informed, restorative MBSR interventions for lawyers and law students, and for minimizing the effects of social-identity-based bias. Rhonda Magee is author and teacher of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness (September 2019, published by Penguin RandomHouse).
In her words: “Contemplative education is key to developing socially just classrooms capable of delivering transformative education that works for all”.
WHY SHOULD I ATTEND?
If you are curious and want to learn and/or share more about how contemplative practices can transform higher education then this conference is for you.
If you are an educator and care deeply about the future of higher education and want to be part of this conversation then this conference is for you.
If you are an educator and want to learn and/or share how to incorporate contemplative practices into your classroom then this conference is for you.
If you are a researcher and want to learn and/or share research findings about the impact of mindfulness on the wellbeing and academic success of our campus communities then this conference is for you.
If you are a member of a campus community and want to learn and/or share how contemplative practices can transform the educational experiences of students then this conference is for you.
If you are a student and want to learn and/or share more about how contemplative practices can transform higher education then this conference is for you.
If you are an artist, social worker, health professional or in any other field that are students might be entering into and want to learn and/or share how mindfulness practices can be integrated into such careers then this conference is for you.
We wish to welcome you all to this conference. Transforming higher education is not going to be easy and we need all those who are willing and interested in learning and sharing to be part of this effort.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT THIS CONFERENCE?
You can expect a warm and supportive environment where everyone is welcome wherever you might be on your journey to learn more about mindfulness. You can expect to attend formal and informal sessions on all aspects of scholarship, practice, and discussion around how contemplative approaches can and have transformed teaching and higher education.The theme of this conference is the exploration of contemplative practices that can help transform the educational experience of our students and improve the well-being of our faculty, staff and students. You will also have the opportunity to connect with others over meals, informal sharing and practice sessions and performances. We hope that you will leave our conference feeling well-nourished and rejuvenated, equipped to start or continue your work with contemplative practices within a supportive community. You will have continued access to shared resources and opportunities for collaboration.
Sessions at the conference might explore topics such as:
- Contemplative practices that prepare us and our students to be resilient in the face of constant uncertainty given the unprecedented events of the last several years.
- Contemplative practices that expand our capacity for compassion, academic focus, and creativity.
- Contemplative practices that help us to manage stress and develop the ability to listen and speak with kindness and curiosity.
- Contemplative approaches that foster student success, especially for those students who are often marginalized by society.
- Contemplative approaches that expand our capacity to meet collective local and global challenges grounded in compassion and social justice.
- The joys and challenges of building a contemplative academic community of educators-scholars- practitioners that can nourish and sustain our teaching, research, service, and personal practice.
Types of Sessions include:
Research Presentation Session: 20-minute presentations of research findings and/or case studies followed by community conversations and opportunities for connecting with one another about shared concerns and experiences.
Research and Interactive Practice Session: 45-minute presentations which include a brief presentation of findings and the facilitation of one or two interactive practices by the presenter followed by opportunities for sharing by participants.
Interactive Practice Session: 30-minute sharing of practices which includes an opportunity for participants to experience one or more mindfulness practices led by the presenter.
Workshop/Training Session: 90-minute workshops that include an educational experience for participants, led by the facilitator in any area of contemplative pedagogy.
LEARN MORE ABOUT US
The overall purpose of Mindful CSUSM: Center for Contemplative Practices is to provide support to all members of the campus community through contemplative practices, pedagogy and research that foster deep learning, reduced stress, increased capacity for compassionate listening and increased well-being. Our work is based on the premise, best stated by Nelson Mandela that: “If they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love”. Hence, our activities are focused on creating a more just and compassionate community.
The Mindful CSUSM story begins in 2013 when one founding member, Dr. Fritz Kreisler, a trained Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) instructor and faculty member from Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), offered an MBSR course for the campus community. That summer, three other founding members, Dr Jennifer Jeffries, Dr. Marie Thomas and Dr. Ranjeeta Basu attended a summer program offered by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (CMind) located in Florence, Massachusetts. This week-long residential workshop focused on the incorporation of mindfulness and contemplative pedagogy into teaching. These practices include but are not limited to breath practices, body scan, mindful reading, listening and writing and loving kindness practices to name a few. It was a life-changing experience; the three of us returned to campus convinced that contemplative practices could help create a learning environment where we felt a deep sense of connectedness to ourselves, to our students, to each other, and to the larger regional and global community. In short, we returned with a commitment to create a contemplative community on our campus. Not only did we begin integrating contemplative practices into our own courses but all four of us also began offering workshops to students, faculty, staff, and administrators on contemplative practices. The response was overwhelming. Our sessions were always full, and the feedback provided evidence that people on our campus and those at neighboring community colleges saw the value of these practices.
In the next two years we offered two Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) funded by the Faculty Center around the theme of integrating contemplative pedagogy into the classroom. The FLCs helped us to lay the foundation for community with our students through the pedagogical approaches we learned about, practiced together, and ultimately brought into our classrooms., Students from a wide variety of disciplines have been exposed to this innovative pedagogy because members of the FLCs came from departments across the University. Contemplative pedagogies have now been used on our campus (and, in many cases, continue to be used) in courses as diverse as computer science, social work, psychology, kinesiology, sociology, education, linguistics, economics, business management, nursing, human development, software engineering, global studies, child development, dance, music, and communication with both graduate and undergraduate students. In addition to the classroom, contemplative practices are also being used across the campus from student health and counseling and student leadership services to staff professional development in finance and administrative services and housing. These practices include stress reduction practices, mindful communication and compassion practices, focused attention practices to name a few. We have presented at conferences and published our work in journals and edited books.
The desire to create a contemplative and compassionate community among faculty, staff and students allowed us to make the transition from individual practice to a communal one. In 2017 we established the Mindful CSUSM initiative under the auspices of the Office of Inclusive Excellence. Mindfulness practices can foster the ability to: communicate with compassion, listen to each other even when it is painful to do so, and allow us to speak our truth without fear. Using mindfulness practices, our contemplative and compassionate community provided spaces where we as a campus were able to talk about issues such as sexual harassment, racial tension, elections, mass shootings, and the COVID pandemic. Over the next three semesters we worked with several Senior Experience teams from the College of Business Administration to develop a mission and vision statement, a five-year plan and a website and outreach plan.
We launched the Center for Contemplative Practices in July 2022. Since then we were honored to host Dr. Thupten Jinpa as our arts and lectures speaker this semester. We have also applied for and received grants to improve the wellbeing and academic success of our students. More information about our research projects.
We are now ready to move to the next step where we look forward to expanding our community to include all of you as we work together to create a more just and compassionate world for our students and campus communities.
Call for Proposals
Deadline for proposals is December 10, 2023, at 9pm PST.
We expect to send notifications in January 2024.
Center for Comtemplative Practices Mindful CSUSM is to provide support to all members of the campus community through contemplative practices, pedagogy, and research that foster deep learning, reduced stress, increased capacity for compassionate listening, and increased well-being.
“If they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” - Nelson Mandela