In this initiative, led by Jody Greene (below), faculty and students across the humanities and sciences investigate the promise of contemplative pedagogy at UC Santa Cruz.

Contemplative pedagogy is an integrated approach to teaching and learning that sees education as a transformative process rather than simply a means of accumulating information. With an emphasis on curiosity, collaboration, engagement, and student-centered learning, contemplative approaches seek to cultivate thinkers and responders rather than consumers of knowledge. Practitioners forge links between traditional disciplinary wisdom and the environmental, ethical, and economic challenges facing humankind.

I know we cannot put thousands of students in arboreal classrooms (or could we?), but we can at least give these students a unique perspective into the world from which they came. We can also produce a special condition of beauty and—if you will—of spiritual therapy.

— Ansel Adams,
on the mission and campus of UC Santa Cruz (1962)

UC Santa Cruz was founded with the express purpose of allowing students to “situate” their learning in a place of extraordinary natural beauty—a place that would foster both contemplation and an orientation toward the natural world as a “container” for our scholarly pursuits. It was founded, in some sense, as a retreat center committed to rigorous higher learning.

Program Director

Jody Greene is Professor of Literature, Feminist Studies, and the History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British literature; non-dualist Western philosophy, especially the work of Spivak, Derrida, and Nancy; human rights and international law; queer studies; and the history of literary discourse. Her forthcoming collection, co-edited with Sharif Youssef, is The Hostile Takeover: Human Rights after Corporate Personhood. As of 2016, she is founding Director of the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning at UCSC. In 2015-16, she taught the first UCSC lecture course explicitly foregrounding contemplative methods, and convened the Contemplative Pedagogy Research Cluster of the Institute for Humanities Research at UCSC, which hosted a conference on Contemplative Approaches in Higher Education. Her interest in Contemplative Pedagogy arises from a quarter century teaching the close reading of literary texts, and 15 years immersed in Zen practice, primarily at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. She has taught meditation and other contemplative practices at Tassajara, Esalen, and, annually since 2013, in Ladakh, India.