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Contemplative Studies

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 religion, art, music, and literature. 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 Core (6 courses including the Senior Concentration Seminar)

COST 0100Introduction to Contemplative Studies1
Two introductory science courses addressing the biological, psychological, and neurological functionsing of the human body/mind complex with health implications, and how contemplative practices affect it.
Select one from the following list:1
The Foundation of Living Systems
Mind and Brain: Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
Human Cognition
Perception and Mind
The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience
Others with approval
Select one from following list:1
Meditation and the Brain
Cognitive Neuroscience of Meditation
COST 1080
Meditation, Mindfulness and Health
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. 2
Religion and Culture
Concepts of the Self in Classical Indian Literature
The Idea of Self
Great Contemplative Traditions of Asia
Great Contemplative Traditions of Asia
Karma, Rebirth and Liberation: Life and Death in South Asian Religions
Karma, Rebirth and Liberation: Life and Death in South Asian Religions
COST 0410
Engaged Buddhism
COST 0420
The Theory and Practice of Buddhist Meditation
The History and Practice of Yoga in India and Beyond
Stages of the Contemplative Path
The Place of Persons
Introduction to Philosophy
Psychology and Philosophy of Happiness
Consciousness
Philosophy of Mind
Spiritual But Not Religious: Making Spirituality in America
On Being Human: Religious and Philosophical Conceptions of Self
Philosophy of Mysticism
Others with approval
COST 1950Senior Concentrators' Seminar1

Track Requirements (6 additional courses Including a Capstone Course)

Students must complete either a Science or Humanities track in addition to the concentration core.

Science Track

The Science track in Contemplative Studies gives concentrators a foundational understanding of the scientific methods used to investigate the biological, psychological, and neurological effects of contemplative practice and their potential implications on physical and mental health both for individuals and for the general public. Students will be taught how to critique current research as well as how to develop, operationalize, and test hypotheses related to contemplative practice. Students will become well-versed in how to study first-person reports related to the phenomenology of contemplative experience as a foundation for formulating third-person tests of the effects of practice on brain function and behavior. The Contemplative Studies Science Track trains students to investigate these types of questions not only for academic scholarship, but also to provide a method of self-inquiry that can be used to augment any area of life. 

Five thematic science courses, including a Capstone Course, drawn primarily from BIOL,COST, NEUR, CLPS, and PHP, at least one of which must include laboratory work and two of which must be 1000-level.5
The Capstone Course is intended to be a culmination of the students' concentration in which they will bring to bear what their interests have been in develiping their docused work in the program. The Capstone course can be either:
a. A one semester Indepenent Reading and Research course, either COST 1910 or 1920 OR BIOL 1950 or 1960, depending on the semester; OR
b. A special project done within an 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.
Biochemistry (lab)
Genetics (lab)
Principles of Immunology
Principles of Physiology (lab)
Comparative Biology of the Vertebrates
Social Psychology
The Psychology and Philosophy of Happiness
Research Methods And Design
Laboratory in Genes and Behavior
Sleep and Chronobiology Research
Computational Methods for Mind, Brain and Behavior
The Neural Bases of Cognition
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Theory and Practice
Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
Perceptual Learning
Visualizing Vision
Laboratory in Social Cognition
Meditation and the Brain
Cognitive Neuroscience of Meditation
COST 1080
Meditation, Mindfulness and Health
Principles of Neurobiology
Neural Systems
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
Experimental Neurobiology
Neural Correlates of Consciousness
Obesity in the 21st Century: Causes, Consequences and Countermeasures
Principles of Health Behavior and Health Promotion Interventions
Social Determinants of Health
Others with approval
One statistics course (others with approval)1
Essential Statistics
Statistical Inference I
Statistical Analysis of Biological Data
Statistical Methods
Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
Essentials of Data Analysis

Humanities Track

The Humanities track 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. Students will choose a concentration program that includes three intermediate and three advanced seminars drawn from the two areas below. While it is recommended that students focus primarily on one of these two areas, the precise balance of the individual concentration program for each student will be established with the concentration advisor when the student applies to enter the concentration, normally in their fourth semester of study. 

Six courses, including a Capstone Course, from across the two areas below:6
The Capstone Course 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 docused work in the program. The Capstone course can be either:
a. A one semester Independent Reading and Research course, either COST 1910 or 1920 OR BIOL 1950 or 1960, depending on the semester; OR
b. A special project done within an 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.
Contemplative Religious Traditions
The Philosophy of Classical Indian Yoga
Epics of India
Mythology of India
Concepts of the Self in Classical Indian Literature
India’s Classical Performing Arts
Classical Philosophy of India
Classics of Indian Literature
Karma, Rebirth and Liberation: Life and Death in South Asian Religions
COST 0420
The Theory and Practice of Buddhist Meditation
COST 0530
Laozi and the Daodejing
Tibetan Buddhism and the West
The Bhagavad Gītā (CLAS 0855)
Japan: Nature, Ritual, and the Arts
The Confucian Mind
Early Daoist Syncretism: Zhuang Zi and Huainan Zi
Buddhism and Death
The Imaginary Lives of Muslims
Introduction to Buddhism
The Classical Chinese Philosophy of Life
Religions of Classical India
Zen Meditation in China, Korea, and Japan
Science, Religion, and the Search for Happiness in Traditional Asian Thought
Experiencing the Sacred: Embodiment and Aesthetics in South Asian Religions
Buddhism in India
Philosophy of Mysticism
Buddhist Poetry
Themes in Japanese Buddhism
The History, Philosophy, and Practice of Rinzai Zen Buddhism
The Pholosophy of Mind
Consciousness
Ancient Philosophy
Psychology and Philosophy of Happiness
Valuing Persons
Descartes Meditations
Kant's Moral Philosophy
Philosophy of Science
Moral Theories
Metaphysics
Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason
Epistemology
Philosophy of Mind
Aristotle's Metaphysics
The Shaping of World Views
Others with approval

Honors Requirement

 Students with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the concentration may apply for entrance into the Honors program in the middle of their sixth semester. To apply, students submit a proposal for a senior thesis project describing the work to be undertaken and its relevance to the field of Contemplative Studies, along with a copy of their academic transcript. Students accepted into Honors must complete the required Capstone seminar, UNIV 1010, and enroll in an additional semester of independent study in their advisor’s department. Students must complete an Honors Thesis to the satisfaction of their advisor and present the results of their studies in formal talks or poster sessions open to all interested faculty and students.