Through the Association of Contemplative Mind in Higher Education mailing list and discussion with teachers in the US over the last year I have come into contact with dialogue about tackling oppression and promoting social justice through higher and further education. This has made me painfully aware of my own naiveté, particularly about racism and privilege, as well as making me very conscious of how absent oppression and social justice are from HE classrooms in the UK. Whilst they may be studied abstractly by some students in terms of sociological theories I have not come across teaching which encourages students to deeply question their own role as oppressors or oppressed, or engage imaginatively with visions of social justice.
This inspirational website by Beth Berila, the Director of the Women’s Studies Program and Professor in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department at St. Cloud State University Minnesota, is full of useful resources. It has also made me think more deeply about the potential of contemplative practice to generate social change and expose the powerful forces of oppression and privilege that remain unexplored and unquestioned within our current education system – particularly I think in the UK.
I have not yet had chance to explore the website in much detail so if you find any of the resources particuarly interesting or thought provoking do comment below or circulate in the mailing list. If you would like to be added to our mailing list please email me: barrattc[at]essex.ac.uk