This webinar explores how contemplative practices can deepen feminist and critical race pedagogies in Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, and other courses about diversity, power, and oppression. Mindfulness can help students both understand their reactions in class discussions and help them become more intentional about them. But they may also evoke for students complex responses to their own experiences of oppression. As teachers, we have a responsibility to help students make sense of those responses.
How does embodiment play a role in unlearning oppression? How might our identity locations and our lived experiences shape our responses to mindfulness practices? What kinds of consequences from oppression might arise for students when we integrate contemplative practices into the classroom? How can professors be prepared for these diverse responses and effectively support students?
This webinar will establish a foundation for WHY we need mindfulness in these classrooms and then will discuss how teachers can prepare students for the myriad of reactions that might arise when they are asked to be present with what is.
About the Presenter
BETH BERILA is the Director of the Women’s Studies Program and a Professor in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department at St. Cloud State University. She earned her 200-hour yoga certification with Senior Anusara instructors and is completing her 340-hour yoga teacher certification with Devanadi School of Yoga and Wellness in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work addresses intersections of embodiment, feminism, yoga, and mindful education. She is particularly interested in how contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation offer students an embodied empowerment that deeply compliments other kinds of empowerment found in Women’s Studies disciplines. Her current writings focus on how college students can learn to use contemplative practices to live healthier, more balanced lives, and how teachers can effectively integrate contemplative practices to help students unlearn the effects of systems of oppression. More information can be found at bethberila.com.
Presented by Barry Kroll, Professor of English at Lehigh University
Originally broadcast on Thursday, April 10, 2014
Barry Kroll writes, “For the past seven years, I’ve been teaching a course that asks first-year college students to consider the following question: How can arguing—so often associated with controversy and conflict—be practiced as an art of peace? I use the figures of the closed fist and open hand to represent different approaches to argument: one adversarial, the other conciliatory. My focus is on the open hand, a rich gesture that signals peaceful intentions but also lends itself to further analysis, since it can function as an instrument of contact, connection, and control.
Students explore the open hand by studying principles of mediation and conflict resolution; in addition, they get a feel for the open hand by practicing movements derived from the martial arts, especially those arts where an open hand receives an opponent’s aggressive energy, controls it, and then leads the conflict in a new direction, toward cooperation. I also incorporate exercises in sitting meditation, rapid centering, everyday mindfulness, and focused attention in my classes on Arguing as an Art of Peace. In the webinar, I will explore connections between these contemplative practices and the primary goal of my course, which is to enable students to argue with an open hand.
My talk will be supported by excerpts from journal entries my students made during the course, entries where they recorded—candidly and insightfully—their responses and reflections.”
Dr. Michelle Chatman (Assistant Professor, Department of Justice Studies) teaches sociology and anthropology courses at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), the only four-year, public university in the nation’s capital. As an urban, land-grant institution, UDC is deeply engaged in critical issues around urban life and inequality including income neighborhood diversity and gentrification.
In this webinar, Dr. Chatman will share some of the contemplative practices she uses in her classes to deepen student learning, enhance well-being, and inspire a commitment to social justice. These practices include Well-being and Diversity Days, The Mindfulness Challenge, and The Coltrane Meditation.
Helen Damon-Moore and colleagues at Dartmouth College present their work on developing contemplative programs through a variety of departments and services on their campus. The presenters discuss the challenges and opportunities that arose while implementing these campus-wide programs, and the roles that faculty, staff, and students can play in the process. Helen and her colleagues provide examples of the integration of contemplative practice and learning with community-based learning programs, outdoor education, religious life, student groups, and faculty/staff programs.
Dr. David Lee Keiser and Julie Dalley will present their work on developing and implementing a new contemplative pedagogy faculty fellowship at Montclair State University.
The presenters will discuss the steps taken: recruiting faculty, organizing the program, and program assessment. They will share reflections from faculty participants on the effect of the program in their courses that explores the diversity of their experiences with mindful learning in the classroom as well as the transformative effect on the faculty themselves.
The presenters will invite discussion on the challenges of organizing such a program at a public university that ensures the integrity of the mission of contemplative practice as well as respects the concept of meditative tradition.
Participants are invited to engage in a conversation about supporting faculty in their work, gaining institutional support, and developing best practices and future expansion.