People

This page is a list of short biographies of members of the network. They are listed alphabetically.

Robert-Louis Abrahamson was Professor of English at University of Maryland’s European Division for thirty years, teaching ancient myths, Bible as Literature, Dante, Shakespeare, fairy tales and other related subjects, inviting students to integrate heart and mind and imagination as they read and respond to literature. He was one of the original members of the Association of Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, presenting papers and workshops at several of the Association’s annual conferences, and gave a talk at the first Contemplative Pedagogy Network gathering, on “Contemplative Engagement with a Text”. He combines spiritual themes with music and readings on his Cambridge radio show Evening under Lamplight. He has recently spoken at Emerson College on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s seminal book Nature.

Caroline Barratt – I am a lecturer in the School of Health and Human Sciences at the University of Essex. I completed a PhD in International Development in 2009 and have an interest in qualitative, particularly narrative, research. I first learnt to meditate 15 years ago. Discovering contemplative pedagogy has been a powerfully integrating experience bringing together my previously very private contemplative life with my public teaching role. I am enjoying the challenges and opportunities that arise from this tension. I decided to reach out to others interested in contemplation in higher education following the Omega Institute summer workshop organised by the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education in 2014. Since then we have organised meet ups in London, two at Emerson College and a further is being planned for spring 2016. I am particularly interested in the potential of contemplative pedagogy in the training of health professionals as well as with regards to environmental awareness and sustainability. I am also very interested in what contemplative pedagogy means for us as teachers. Twitter: [at]C_Barratt_

Marcus O’Donnell – I am a journalism academic currently seconded to work on an institution wide curriculum renewal project at the University of Wollongong. I have been involved in a variety of contemplative practices since I was a teenager and I’m currently a zen student with Australian teacher Susan Murphy. Part of our curriculum renewal project includes the development of a mindfulness based resilience strategy for staff and students that brings together curricular and co-curricular approaches. I have been highly influenced by Ronald Barnett’s work on the “ontological turn” in which he challenges us to concentrate on aspects of student being and becoming rather than on their “knowing”. I’ve used a range of reflective activities in journalism classes including a repeated “Philosophy of Journalism Statement” where students reflect on their work so far and what they need to do next to become the sort of journalist they desire to be. Personal Website  Twitter  Email me

Iddo Oberski – After more than three decades of regular practice in meditation, mindfulness and contemplation, I am still a beginner! A deep and sustained experience of the benefits of these practices affords me to gently introduce others to them. After a varied career track (Neuro-biology, Ethology, Primatology, Education) I am now Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in the Centre for Academic Practice at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, Scotland. My role centres on the enhancement of the student experience, through facilitating the development of teachers, teaching, students and learning in Higher Education. This includes engaging staff and students in developing and integrating contemplative practices (a broad term that includes mindfulness meditation and contemplative pedagogy) into learning and teaching. I completed an 8-week mindfulness foundation course in 2009 and am a qualified .b mindfulness teacher. I am also joint programme leader of the MSc Professional and Higher Education. Contact me on ioberski[at]qmu.ac.uk

George Perry MSc – is an educator specialising in helping individuals and organisations to focus on their learning and development and so find the inner and outer resources to enable them to change and grow in keeping with their highest potential.  George teaches at Emerson College and has over 25 years experience as an adult educator. His key interests are human and social development; education; the arts; biography; therapy; Goethean science; and general anthroposophy. He incorporates contemplative inquiry and meditation into his work with students. He is particularly interested in studying the deeper connection between self and nature, or what Goethe called a ‘delicate empiricism’: “Each phenomenon in nature, rightly observed, wakens in us a new organ of inner understanding”. George also works in a wide range of commercial, educational, and third sector organisations as a trainer and consultant. He is also a qualified, practising mediator working with couples and businesses.

Carly Sachs – is a 500-hour Kripalu yoga teacher and a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Composition at Kent State University. Her research is focused on developing curricula that honors both cognitive and affective processes and how to integrate, rather than dichotomize the two. Her research interests include the intersection of bodies, literacies, and the ways in which we use these as agents of connection and alienation. Current research projects include the development of a webtext that connects composition scholarship and contemplative pedagogy; an analysis of contemplative pedagogy in a college writing classroom; and a rhetorical analysis of the social constructions of cookbooks.

Jan Sellers – an adult educator for most of my working life, I founded the Student Learning Advisory Service at the University of Kent and contributed to Kent’s Creative Campus ‘Change Academy’ initiative as Creative Learning Fellow. Through my National Teaching Fellowship I explored joy and creativity in learning, and through this journey, first encountered labyrinths. Labyrinth walking is a peaceful, meditative experience that may deepen reflection and foster creativity: the experience may be woven into teaching, learning, wellbeing and personal development with, and by, students and staff of all faiths and none. I now work freelance as lecturer and labyrinth facilitator in educational and Quaker contexts. Publications include Learning with the Labyrinth: Creating Reflective Space in Higher Education (Jan Sellers and Bernard Moss, eds: Palgrave Macmillan, Spring 2016). More at www.jansellers.com

Geoff Taggart – I am a lecturer in early years education at the University of Reading and also an ordained interfaith minister. My doctorate focussed on spirituality in education and my current research looks at ways in those working in caring professions can be helped to cultivate compassionate resilience.

Katherine Weare is Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton, and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter. She is known internationally for her work on mental health, well-being, social and emotional learning and mindfulness in schools, and has published widely in the field, reviewing the evidence base on ‘what works’, advising policy makers and developing practical strategies in schools. She was a key player developing the UK’s national SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning) programme. She advises mindfulness programmes such as the Mindfulness in Schools Project, and agencies such as the EU, WHO, the UK government and Mind and Life on ways forward. She is currently writing an educational manual with the monastics and lay community of Plum Village based on their core practices. She can be contacted at skw@soton.ac.uk

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