This course offers a social analysis and historical genealogy of meditation and mindfulness from its roots as a Buddhist practice through its modern applications in a variety of social settings including hospitals and clinics, schools & communities where it has been used to improve health outcomes, education outcomes, and other social outcomes. Throughout, we are interested in the scientific evidence that have tried to show how meditation and mindfulness can alter human experience, behavior, and well-being. We begin by considering how mindfulness and meditation practices were introduced and developed by the Buddha and continue to be taught and practiced today in contemporary settings, before turning to the rapid rise of scientific research on mindfulness in recent decades. How and why has research on mindfulness and meditation exploded since 2000 and how does this relate to better understandings of human emotions, human behavior, and human development? We critically examine the use and misuse of modern technologies and models developed by clinical psychiatry and biomedicine to better understand the relationship between the human brain, behavior, and emotions. We ask how meditation and mindfulness has been used to improve the training of doctors & teachers, as well as patient/provider encounters. Throughout, we are interested in how applied research and interventions of mindfulness training with medical training, schools, and other social domains has been used to generate a ‘science of personal transformation’ that is trying to harness the adaptability of human minds, brains, & behaviors. Students will be expected to engage in mindfulness practices during the semester.
Format: tutorial; weekly tutorial, context-based learning, experiential learning
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
weekly tutorial papers and discussion
a course on Buddhism is preferred but not required
ANTH, SOC, REL, ASST majors; PHLH, STS concentrators; seniors and juniors
Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This class will involve weekly tutorial essays of 1200 or 600 words, written feedback on every essay, and a mid-semester 'writing chat' with the instructor to improve patterns in writing.
This class fulfills the Difference, Power, and Equity requirement because it will explore the ways that mindfulness can alleviate pervasive and population wide health issues in the US including rising rates of hypertension, anxiety, and mental health issues that are exacerbated by stress related to social inequality and structural violence. It explores and critiques the ways that mindfulness has been marketed as an elite and non-inclusive practice within the US.
GBST South + Southeast Asia Studies Electives
PHLH Social Determinants of Health