LeeRay Costa Events — Talk: A Contemplative Feminist Approach to Teaching about Race & Whiteness; Workshop: Beloved Community & Social Justice in the College Classroom



LeeRay Costa Events — Talk: A Contemplative Feminist Approach to Teaching about Race & Whiteness; Workshop: Beloved Community & Social Justice in the College Classroom


Newcomb Hall, Rm 481; and Center for Teaching Excellence

Update: Thank you for the response to both of these events. They are now at capacity.


"A Contemplative Feminist Approach to Teaching about Race and Whiteness
10:00-11:30 am, Newcomb Hall, Room 481
Please register for the morning lecture here, as space is limited.

In this presentation LeeRay Costa, Ph.D. will discuss the benefits and challenges of teaching about race, whiteness, and social justice from a contemplative feminist approach including how it can help decrease burnout, enhance self-reflection and awareness, and build community accountability for change. Drawing on her own experiences as a white woman teaching at a small women’s college in Virginia, she will share how the theory and practice of feminists and womanists of color and contemplative scholars and teachers helped her to get comfortable with discomfort, and to be critically vigilant in her own efforts to unlearn racism and white supremacy. Similarly, she will share her experiences with using these methods to facilitate a more engaged, reflective, and meaningful learning experience for students that will resonate long after a course has concluded.
Beloved Community and Social Justice in the College Classroom” 
1:30-3:00 pm, Center for Teaching Excellence, Hotel D, 24 East Range
Please register for the afternoon workshop here, as space is limited.
In this workshop we will explore the college classroom as a space for cultivating beloved community as a foundation for teaching about social justice. Drawing on contemplative feminist theory and practice including the work of bell hooks, AnaLouise Keating, and Becky Thompson, we will consider several methods for creating learning spaces characterized by courage, trust, generosity, and tenderness that can hold both the difficult dialogues and discomfort that inevitably arise when teaching and learning about inequality, oppression, and violence. This workshop will be interactive and includes some homework/self-reflection prior to our meeting.

These events are co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Contemplative Sciences center.

LeeRay Costa is Director of Faculty Development, and Professor and Director of Gender and Women’s Studies at Hollins University. Her research, teaching, and community activism focus on social justice and a desire to understand processes of social change. Trained as a feminist cultural anthropologist, she has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Thailand on women’s activism and non-governmental organizations, and on transgender youth (Male Bodies, Women’s Souls, co-authored with Andrew Matzner), and in Hawai`i on the local food movement. Her scholarly work also focuses on the practice and outcomes of innovative feminist, anti-racist, and contemplative pedagogies. Currently she is exploring the integration of feminist contemplative practices and spirituality into antiracist, social justice education and social movement activism. In her teaching Costa seeks to nurture beloved community and to create a transformative learning environment where students feel empowered to think critically and self-reflexively, and where they are inspired to vision and create human flourishing and planetary justice. Her research and teaching have been supported by grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the Mellon, Teagle, and Luce Foundations, and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.

Costa’s faculty development work focuses on creating a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse campus environment for students, faculty and staff, and on supporting faculty in integrating high impact learning practices into their teaching, including contemplative approaches. In 2018 Costa launched the Hollins Contemplative Collective which seeks to cultivate the holistic well-being of faculty, staff, and students and to integrate into curricular and co-curricular life practices of mindfulness and healing that are embodied, inclusive, and both individually and collectively transformative. Costa is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher and 30-year student of yoga. She first learned to meditate in Thailand as a WorldTeach volunteer, and has completed mindfulness meditation training through the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. In 2015 she walked 400 miles on the Camino de Santiago, from Lisbon, Portugal to Santiago, Spain. She writes about this pilgrimage experience and its impact on her teaching in her essay “Sabbatical as Sacred Time: Contemplative Practice and Meaning in the Neoliberal Academy,” published in the Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.

Costa is also the co-founder of Girls Rock Roanoke, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower girls and women through music, creative expression, and collaboration within a safe space that honors inclusivity and social justice. Since 2012 Girls Rock has supported hundreds of girls and gender non-conforming youth in amplifying their voices and celebrating their gifts as change makers in their own lives and communities.