Toward the implementation of contemplative practices in Higher Education

Valerie Bonnardel, Terry Biddington, Brandon Lee May, Rhiannon Jones, Simon Roffey

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Endorsing the role of Universities as caregiving organisations and following an initial report on contemplative practices (CP) in Higher Education by the Institute of Theological Partnerships (2016) and the Mindful Nation UK (2015), a Contemplative Pedagogy Working Group (CPWG) was convened to explore the possibilities to implement contemplative pedagogy and practices at the University. CP such as Buddhist meditation have direct bearings in developing and cultivating compassion.With the intention to foster a culture of gentleness within the University, a survey was administered to 301 students to:1-probe their attitudes toward the introduction of CP at the University and 2-to collect information on their use of technology. Results indicate that 79% of students will be favourable to the introduction of CP at the University on a voluntary basis and 58% will be keen to engage with the practice. However, if short time practices were to be introduced in classes, 44% will be self-conscious and admit it will affect their practice.Seventy percent admit difficulty with their attention during lectures and exam revisions and 58% are distracted by mobile technologies used in classes, report of distractibility is more marked among the youngest.

The survey’s result highlights student’s tendency to consider learning about CP in relation to the mind and emotions should be part of their education. This awareness is indicative of a change in students’ expectation and support the CPWG initiatives in offering regular Zen meditation practices and building up a Cosmic Garden within the University premises. Challenges in fostering a compassionate learning and teaching environment and concerns related to the pervasive use of technology in classes, in particular the correlation between the variety of online multitasking and the worry of feeling self-conscious during CP will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2018


  • Contemplative practices
  • compassion
  • secular ethics
  • student surveys
  • higher education


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