Centre College prides itself on an interdisciplinary and holistic curriculum grounded in the liberal arts tradition, and a group of Centre professors recently collaborated to further that aspect of the Centre experience by securing funding from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Faculty Advancement grant program.
Thanks to the work of Assistant Professor of Psychology Aaron Godlaski (right), Assistant Professor of Chinese Kyle Anderson, Assistant Professor of Religion Christian Haskett and Assistant Professor of Sociology Kaelyn Wiles, contemplative studies will be expanded into more areas of the College curriculum and campus with this new funding.
“This most recent project is the second of a three-part plan for a contemplative studies initiative at Centre College,” explains Godlaski. “The previous project funded the startup, including the purchase of meditation cushions and mats for our campus meditation group (pictured above), 45 books on contemplative practice and teaching for the library and research on contemplative practice applications in the classroom.”
This most recent ACS funding subsidizes the travel and participation of the four Centre professors at a weeklong Summer Session workshop and retreat for contemplative educators held annually at Smith College by the Association of Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE).
The Summer Session brings together faculty from around the country to share their contemplative teaching practices, as well as to learn and practice with the major thinkers in this field.
“As a group,” says Godlaski, “we hope to use this experience at the Summer Session to grow and develop in our use of contemplative pedagogy and to continue to build a strong connection between Centre College, ACS and the leading national organization for advancing contemplative practices in higher education.”
The expansion of contemplative studies in the classroom and on campus has been a passion of Godlaski’s throughout his life.
“I’ve been a student of Buddhism since I was young,” he explains, “and a portion of my clinical training as a psychologist focused on the application of meditation in the treatment of various disorders. When I arrived at Centre, I had the goal of sharing my interest in the application of contemplative practice with the campus community in as broad a way as I was able. I was lucky to meet several like-minded faculty, and our activities have taken off from there.”
The initiative is one that challenges Godlaski as a scholar, professor and individual.
“It is both the object of my research and has a great deal of personal meaning as well,” he explains. “As a professor, I see the value of contemplative practice for students who suffer with anxiety, stress and finding balance and direction in their lives; it is a means of approaching rather than avoiding these experiences.
“For the College,” he continues, “I see our activities closely in line with Centre’s values of an engaged and deeply personal education. Contemplative practice embodies these values through self-reflection and the recognition of the connections between the individual and any object of study.”
Learn more about contemplative practice at Centre.
By Mariel Smith