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Culture & Wisdom

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Culture & Wisdom

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Exploring contemplation's rich legacy in religions, while researching ethical reasoning, cultural contexts, and convergences of the humanities and sciences. Led by one of the world's finest Department of Religious Studies, CSC interprets contemplative traditions in historical, cultural, and contemporary contexts, and draws upon that heritage to design systems for modern uses based on scientific research and professional contexualization.
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U.Va.’s strengths in the humanities, particularly in religious studies - one of the best programs in the world - deepens CSC’s focus on contemplation by placing it in specific socio-historical, cultural, and contemporary contexts, as well as drawing upon the world's rich contemplative heritage to design new systems for use in modern contexts in conjunction with scientific research and professional contexualization. CSC views contemplation as a perhaps uniquely powerful context for new bridges between the humanities and sciences, as well as between both and the professional schools, due to its deep grounding in both theory and practice. Humanists at U.Va. are working in new partnerships with scientists and the professional schools to bring the full power of our collective knowledge and expertises to bear upon the challenge of understanding the dynamics and utility of old and new contemplative practices in specific contexts.

For example, David Germano is working with Santa Clara University professor Shauna Shapiro on a project exploring the relationship between contemplation and contexts at the interface of psychology and religious studies with the support of a Mind and Life fellowship. On a more traditional humanistic front, Kevin Hart is completing a major book project on the history of Christian contemplation. On the teaching front, in 2012-13, the CSC supported a new pilot offering of a course by Religious Studies Chair Kurtis Schaeffer and David Germano for 200 U.Va. undergraduates called “Buddhist Meditation in the Modern World,” including contemplative lab sections. This course will be repeated in the Spring 2014, as well as developed into a MOOC offered through the Coursera platform in 2014 for tens of thousands of people around the world. The model is being expanded in the fall of 2013 for a course on Yoga with similar contemplative lab sections as offered by John Campbell, while Nursing Professor Susan Bauer-Wu with Sam Green is offering an academic course on Mindfulness, to cite just a few examples. Vanessa Ochs is exploring contemplative pedagogy in Jewish traditions, while Heather Warren has worked with more Christian contemplative traditions in her teaching. Related programs in other schools at UVa include Peggy Plews-Ogan’s Wisdom through Adversity program in the Medical School, David Mick’s teaching and research on wisdom in business in McIntire, to cite just a few.

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