The Formal Concentration
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 domains such as religion, art, music, literature, and health. 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.
Concentration Requirements (12 courses)
The Concentration Core
1. COST 0100: An Introduction to Contemplative Studies AND
2. Two Introductory Science Courses addressing the biological, psychological, and neurological functioning of the human body/mind complex with health implications, and how contemplative practices affect it AND
3. Two Humanities Courses that present important themes that can emerge from bringing a Contemplative Studies perspective to the study of contemplative religious traditions and to the philosophical analysis of the key questions of human existence AND
4. COST 1950 (Senior Concentrator's Seminar) which enables concentrators to synthesize their knowledge of the field of Contemplative Studies and its current principal issues, and learn how to most effectively conduct research and writing on their Capstone Projects.
The Concentration Track
6 courses (including the Capstone Course)
5 courses selected from either:
1. A Sciences Track which gives concentrators a foundational understanding of the scientific methods used to investigate the biological, psychological, and neurological effects of contemplative practices, and their potential implications on physical and mental health both for individuals and for the general public OR;
2. A Humanities Track which explores the origin and development of contemplative practices within specific religious, cultural and historical contexts and gives students a foundation in the Philosophy of Mind relevant to the scientific study of contemplative practice. Intermediate and Advanced courses should be taken in: Philosophy of Mind and Contemplative Religious Traditions. In special cases, concentrations in the Contemplative Creative Arts may be possible within the Humanities Track AND:
3. Concentration Capstone Course which is intended to be a culmination of the students’ concentration in which they will bring to bear what their interests have been in developing their focused work in the program. The Capstone course can be either:
- A one semester Independent Reading and Research course, either COST 1910 or 1920 OR BIOL 1950 or 1960, depending on the semester; OR
- A special project done within and existing Contemplative Studies core or related course at the 1000-level in which the student brings to bear the larger concerns of her concentration on a problem or issue within the course. It is expected that such Capstone research papers will be more substantial than a term paper.
Students wishing to be considered for Honors in Contemplative Studies must have a 3.5 grade point average in concentration courses, and their Capstone Project must be a two-semester Honors Thesis in the senior year (COST 1980). For the sciences track, this would typically involve two semesters of research in an established lab (e.g. Britton, Kerr/Jones, Loucks, Watanabe, or approved others).