Community Engagement, Social Entrepreneurship, & Contemplation
David Germano, director of the University of Virginia’s Contemplative Sciences Center offers his thoughts on the center and its progress in the year since it was formed.
This project is building the foundations for the integration of contemplative practices, values, and ideas with a range of service activities at the University of Virginia, including community development, international development, humanitarian aid, and social entrepreneurship. The objective is to institute a sustainable component of the U.Va. curriculum which will offer rigorous training in the basic intellectual framework and skill sets necessary to be effective agents of change. This framework is grounded in contemplative values, ideas, and practices that will enable students to (1) be mindful of and capable of managing their own motivations, biases, fears, stress, and cultural projections; (2) empathetically understand local communities’ own cultural orientations, challenges, fears, and aspirations; and (3) recognize local capacities and knowledge which should be at the heart of any development work. In this way, self-awareness and empathy, generally overlooked in these types of training programs, become integral to the development-oriented curriculum. This will ensure that students go on to conduct development work in a socially sensitive and responsible way. The curriculum development project builds from a partnership between Global Grassroots, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and the Contemplative Sciences Center. The foundation is being provided by two teaching programs at the University of Virginia led by Gretchen Wallace of Global Grassroots (one that took place in May, 2013 and one during the January “J-Term” in 2014) and seeks to institute similar similar programs and elements through annual University offerings and through the long-term work of the CSC. Ultimately, this project serves to operationalize the CSC’s commitment to social justice and inclusivity by enabling students to bring contemplative ideas, values, and practices into the concrete work of social engagement and development, whether in social entrepreneurship, non-profit work, or community service work in general.
The January Term 2014 course is offered under rubrics for the School of Nursing (NUIP 4005), Global Deveopment Studies (GDS 3559), Public Policy (PPOL 5225), and Religious Studies (RELG 3559). Registration starts on November 21 - see here for more information.
Key People: Gretchen Wallace, Founder, Global Grassroots; David Germano, Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia; Christine Mahoney, Associate Professor, Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia.