My Dissertation: a Brief Synopsis

My dissertation was dedicated to contemplative practices in higher education, with a focus on how contemplative faculty members perceive them.

When I analyzed faculty narratives, it became clear that contemplative pedagogy is a necessary and non-negotiable part of personal and professional being of these educators. In teaching, participants valued life skills over subject matter and formed deep connections with students. Creativity, acceptance, self-awareness, and resilience were some of the skills faculty strived to nurture in their students. 

Participants came to contemplative practices to heal themselves from major life traumas. Being objective to one’s emotional state and in tune with the body was critical for them. May faculty members started implementing these practices in response to student need, stating that contemplative pedagogy aided students with managing stress, improving focus, as well as helped them overcome challenges and build resilience. They wanted to provide students with tangible strategies to handle academic and social stress. 

Academics that were interviewed in my study often reflected on their peer-to-peer relationships. It was important for contemplative faculty to know what their academic peers thought of their work. Three types of attitudes from non-contemplative faculty were identified from the narratives: supportive, passive-aggressive, and openly resistant.