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Contemplative Movement Celebrates Five Years in the Honors Program

An important goal of the Honors Program is to foster in its students an ability and interest in taking both "a wider view and a deeper look" with respect to their academic work.  One of the ways this is done is through the use of contemplative practices in the classroom. The Honors Curriculum has been designed to include such practices in the sophomore seminar though its employment of contemplative practice. Senior honors seminars often also incorporate contemplative practice as an implicit part.  The contemplative component seeks to bring together the traditional University classroom's (important!) ability to objectify knowledge with contemplation's ability to put the subject back into the picture and thereby enable objective knowledge to work in the world in more full ways.

Beth Wadham is Academic Associate at the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. The Center supports the emergence of a broad culture of contemplation in education and the development of contemplative pedagogy, research methodology and epistemology that will be of value to students, teachers and researchers. Wadham says the contemplative movement is a growing movement and that it is an emerging pedagogy innovation.  "We are seeing more Yoga and Reflective Writing," she says, "Contemplation is no longer "fringe", it is now more available and more mainstream."

Marquette, she pointed out, is unique because it received a Program Development Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).  Unlike Marquette, many prestigious universities have been given single teaching grants for specific professors to use contemplative inquiry in their methods of research.  The Marquette Honors Program, on the other hand, was given a grant to incorporate contemplation into the entire curriculum.

As part of this initiative, The Honors Program invited other Marquette faculty to participate in what started out as a year-long initiative consisting of a retreat, monthly conversations, and two grant-sponsored lectures. Two experts in the area of contemplation accepted invitations to come to Marquette and participate in several events with the Honors Program students:  In Fall 2007, Thomas Keating, author, teacher, monk and founding member of the Spirituality branch of Integral Institute and in Spring 2008, Richard Davidson, Director, W. M. Keck Laboratory For Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior. Through this initiative, the Honors Program has been able to expand the number of courses featuring contemplative pedagogies at Marquette.


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