Contemplative Studies


The concentration in Contemplative Studies investigates the underlying philosophical, psychological, and scientific bases of human contemplative experience. Students pursue a "third person" academic approach drawn from the humanities and sciences to analyze the cultural, historical, and scientific underpinnings of contemplative experiences in religion, art, music, and literature. This is developed in combination with a "critical first-person" approach based in practical experience of contemplative techniques and methods to provide an integrated understanding of the role of contemplative thought and experience in societies and on the individuals who constitute them.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Identify the wide variety of contemplative experiences across cultures and across time
  • Examine scientific and philosophical explanations for contemplative experiences
  • Cultivate direct first-person knowledge of contemplative experiences
  • Assess the meaning and significance of contemplative experiences both within the traditions from which they emerged and on a personal level for our students
  • Produce and present a humanities- or science-based independent research project


Click here for a list of requirements.

Honors and Capstones

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Students with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the concentration may apply for entrance into the Honors program in the middle of their sixth semester. To apply, students submit a proposal for a senior thesis project describing the work to be undertaken and its relevance to the field of Contemplative Studies, along with a copy of their academic transcript. Students accepted into Honors must complete the required Capstone seminar, UNIV 1010, and enroll in an additional semester of independent study in their advisor’s department. Students must complete an Honors Thesis to the satisfaction of their advisor and present the results of their studies in formal talks or poster sessions open to all interested faculty and students.


  • Humanities
  • Sciences

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Enhance your aesthetic sensibility
  • Expand your reading skills
  • Collaborate fully
  • Understand differences among cultures
  • Embrace diversity
  • Engage with your community
  • Experience scientific inquiry
  • Evaluate human behavior

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Affiliated Departments


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors

Alumni Pathways

Alumni have pursued careers in medicine, education, research, and a range of non-profit organizations. Others have pursued graduate study in psychology, neuroscience, Contemplation and Peace Studies, and Tibetan Buddhist Studies.

Where have concentrators worked/studied in their first year after graduation?

Dept. Undergraduate Group

Student Leaders:

  • Cooper Penner
  • Misbah Noorani

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.