Burlington College has announced plans to develop an Institute for Contemplative Studies at the College’s new North Avenue campus. The College is responding to student, faculty and community demand generated from a newly emerging scientific discipline which investigates how we create and maintain a healthy mind. The vision of the Institute is to embody an intentional learning community that advances personal well-being, provides transformative learning opportunities and cultivates holistic skill sets to enhance our communities, organizations and society as a whole.
“The founding idea of the Institute is the recognition that our world benefits from compassion and contemplation. It is our responsibility to create a safe, nurturing, and joyful environment which fosters these qualities in individuals,” says Kim Nolan, faculty member and driving force behind the Institute. Nolan is a PhD candidate in Contemplative Leadership and the Director of Integral Psychology at the College. She also serves on the Management of Spirituality and Religion Board executive committee on the Board of Academy of Management and was granted a research fellowship through the Mind & Life Institute.
The mission of the Institute is to create a container for introspective practice, scholarship, and community engagement. Dr. Stephen St. Onge, Dean of the College, states “The Institute will provide the opportunity for individuals to improve themselves and their communities through the sharing of ideas and contemplative practices.”
Beyond academic offerings, the Institute looks to develop programming in five key areas: community-based collaborations with schools, businesses and non-profit agencies; professional development; research initiatives; contemplative walking paths; and workshops and retreats. Nolan is already working on self-care initiatives with human service providers, facilitating mindfulness and stress reduction within the Vermont school system, and consulting on leadership and organizational development with local non-profits.
“The idea for the Institute flows naturally out of Burlington College’s long-standing programs in humanistic, transpersonal and integral psychology,” states President Christine Plunkett. “It also supports our highly regarded, progressive, student-centered educational model. We recognize the importance of the whole student in our advisory program and intentionally small classes, which encourage discussion and self-reflection.”