Utilizing Contemplative Practices With Undergraduate Students in a Community-Engaged Course on Health Disparities

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Abstract

Public health courses that provide opportunities for applied learning to develop students’ understanding of health disparities and methods for achieving health equity are of critical importance. Contemplative pedagogy can cultivate among students personal skills such as open awareness, introspection, nonjudgment, and compassion as students engage with communities across class, race, and other lines of difference. This article describes how contemplative practices are introduced and aligned with learning objectives in an undergraduate community-engaged course on health parity at a public liberal arts university in North Carolina, with the intent of contributing to the growing literature on contemplative education and how it may be appropriate in public health education. Contemplative pedagogy in this course offers opportunities for students to learn with their minds, bodies, and hearts. This article presents course context and structure, introducing contemplative practices to students, and two specific examples of contemplative activities that may help students better understand diversity and their role in sustainable health equity. The article concludes with a discussion and resources for instructors interested in contemplative pedagogy. As contemplative pedagogy gains ground in college instruction, it may also provide critical skill-building for students of public health.

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