Contemplative Studies in Higher Education: Balancing Old and New Transformational Technologies
As technology inundates and transforms high education, students and faculty are able to do things not previously imagined, such as dissect a “digital cadaver” to learn anatomy and gather in an online-only classroom to have group discussions on the literary themes of Jane Austin’s work.
However, as technology continues to advance at rapid speed, new phenomena, including information overload and technology-related mental stress, threaten to dampen the tremendous benefits the digital revolution holds for academia.
Researchers at the University of Missouri are exploring how ancient methods of deep contemplation could help technology users stay mentally and emotionally engaged with each other and their fields of study.
These “contemplative technologies” – including meditation, breath awareness and contemplative breathing wouldn’t be a substitute for using the technological innovations in educations, says psychology professor Kennon Sheldon. Instead, they are more valuable tools to use alongside emerging technology, and to even help negative some its negative consequences.
“Contemplative practices are ancient transformational technologies that can bring balance to contemporary lives and education that are increasingly dependent on new ones,” says Sheldon. “In other words, these practices bring essential health and cognitive benefits that complement and help to manage the use of new digital technologies.”
To help researchers delve deeper into the possible benefits and applications of contemplative studies, Mizzou Advantage awarded Sheldon and his interdisciplinary team of researchers a grant to start new projects and grow connections with outside resources in the field.
Three visitors came to MU in spring 2011:
Kirk Warren Brown, psychology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, who presented The Mindful Regulation of Emotion
Gregory Kramer, who spoke on interpersonal mindfulness for higher educational professionals and
David Levy, professor in the University of Washington’s Information School, who presented Always On? Exploring Student Attitudes Towards Information Technology