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Contemplative Communities

By Connor Smith; For the Clock
On March 30, 2017

Contemplative Communities 

Connor Smith

For The Clock 


Here at Plymouth State University, there is a new campus project in the works called Contemplative Communities. This is a project to help cultivate reflection, awareness, and mindfulness for the whole Plymouth State community. This initiative is based on the idea of contemplative approaches and the overall objective is to help relieve the day to day stress here on campus.

Karolyn Kinane, a professor of Medieval and Early Modern Literature, developed the idea for the project. She is very passionate about her work and has strong feeling towards education. She said, “I wanted to integrate subjectivity, affect, feeling, emotion as well as passion and curiosity into my work life. There are other ways of knowing, not just being critical of things but can also be creative and contemplative.” Many other people around campus have been working with Professor Kinane to help think of ways to achieve this goal.

One approach is to create an advisor board made up of both students and faculty staff. This would be a way for members of the campus community to be able to get their desires and ideas out to this project. Kinane asked, “What do you think can help make your campus a little bit more compassionate, aware, and curious in life? How can we bring joy and compassion into our communities?”

Another aspect of the project is to create general education courses of contemplative thought which would satisfy the four requirements of general education classes. These classes would have the contemplative components in them, but would also show students how to apply these approaches within their own lives. A first-year discussion would also be implemented called “Living with Purpose”. Modeled after the Harpar Program, this is for first-year student to talk about agency, purpose, and meaning.

These classes ideally would start in the spring of 2018. The class would also bridge together the graduate and undergraduate experience by bringing the work of the graduate students more into the community of Plymouth State.

One of the biggest parts to this is creating a type of Campus Ethos. By bringing all the previously mentioned components together, this would help the campus become a more stress-free environment. Some of the ways that have already been thought of to do this are meditation Mondays or book groups.

Anyone is welcomed to help further this project along. 

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