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This article explores the role of contemplative practices within an emerging interdisciplinary area that I refer to as "creativity and consciousness studies." Within this new area, consciousness is studied from an "integral" perspective that brings together insights from a range of wisdom traditions and modern science. Meditation is presented as an essential first-person modality for investigating consciousness, and formal and nonformal approaches to meditation are delineated to establish important guidelines for the introduction of meditation into an academic setting. The role of "first-person" experience helps to develop new notions of rigor and interdisciplinary learning that can lead to an expanded educational experience, which can help to develop qualities such as mental clarity, inner calm, insight, compassion, and creativity. The article closes with reflections on the importance of expanding our approach to education in light of the demanding challenges and creative opportunities in today's world.
This article describes the design and advocacy of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jazz and Contemplative Studies curriculum at The University of Michigan School of Music. The curriculum combines meditation practice and related studies with jazz and overall musical training and is part of a small but growing movement in academia that seeks to integrate contemplative disciplines within the educational process. The article considers issues such as the structure of the curriculum, the reconciliation of contemplative studies and conventional notions of academic rigor, the avoidance of possible conflicts between church and state, and other challenges encountered in gaining support for this plan, after weeks of intensive debate, from a 2/3 majority of the faculty.