Contemplative Pedagogy Initiative

The Contemplative Pedagogy Initiative at USC is part of, a campus-wide program promoting and teaching mindfulness practice.  Contemplative Pedagogy is a worldwide movement to incorporate meditative, reflective, and contemplative methods in teaching and learning.  At USC, faculty, adjuncts, and other teachers in all disciplines gather four times a year to share best practices and learn from experts.  To get on the list to be invited to these events, contact Rev. Jim Burklo, Senior Associate Dean of Religious Life.




  • How to Solve it by George Polya (1945). This is an enduring classic, a short, pithy book about problem-solving in mathematics – but it generalizes to all types of problem-solving. His admonition to “look at the unknown” is, effectively, an invitation to contemplation.
  • The Heart of Higher Education by Parker Palmer (author of The Courage to Teach) and Arthur Zajonc, professor of physics at Amherst and director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society — “for all who are new to the field of integrative education, all who want to deepen their understanding of its challenges and prospects, and all who want to practice and promote this vital approach to teaching and learning on their campuses.”
  • Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love by Arthur Zajonc – “(he) developed his orientation toward meditation through working with hundreds of university students and professors…” This book is full of techniques of contemplation and meditation that can be used to enhance learning in all sorts of classrooms.
  • Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality in Higher Education – Chickering, Dalton, Stamm – A sourcebook of policies and programming used in colleges and universities to integrate and deepen students’ educational experiences.
  • Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith by Sharon Daloz Parks. She is a scholar and author focused on student’s search for “the big picture” in higher education.
  • Living like a Roman Emperor: the Stoic Life (PDF)
  • Mindfulness Training Boosts Test Scores
  • Integrating Mindfulness into Anti-Oppression Pedagogy: Social Justice in Higher Education by Beth Berila — how mindfulness can complement an anti-oppression pedagogy, with real-world examples from the classroom.


Presentations from Previous Workshops

  • Contemplative Inquiry (PDF) created by Rev. Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life at USC, based on the work of Arthur Zajonc and others.
  • Teaching Intellectual Virtues – Professor Joshua Baehr, Dept. Philosophy Loyola Marymount University (PDF)


References From Previous Workshops


Past Events

02/23/17 • Contemplating Infinity: Mathematics and Mindfulness, Luke Wolcott, Dept. Mathematics, USC

02/25/17 • Opening Minds: Teaching Intellectual Virtues, Guest Speaker Prof. Joshua Baehr, Dept. Philosophy, LMU

11/15/16 • The Science of Mindfulness, Guest Speaker Laura A. Baker, Dept. Psychology, USC

11/16/17  * Sharing Best Practices

1/24/18, Wed, 12-1:30 pm, URC 104:  Spiritual Pedagogy in Instructional Design – presentation by Kai Dailey, grad student, Cal State Fullerton