The Center for Compassion provides ongoing opportunities for undergraduate students to study compassion in the classroom and beyond.

For more information on any of our course offerings, please email

How does integrating compassion practices into the classroom benefit students? Dr. Vaishali Mamgain spoke with student-veteran Blaise Goodman about his experiences with Contemplative Education.

ECO 333: Economics and Happiness: a compassion study and research class

Is there a relationship between economic well-being and happiness?  If so, what is it?  The first objective of this course is to introduce students to the literature in the field on Happiness Studies. In this part of the course we will first try to define happiness, then study the methodology used by researchers to assess levels of happiness in the population. Next, we will study the causes and conditions that seem to lead to happiness and whether we can change our behavior to be happier. As part of this, we will focus on ethics, altruism, and cooperation and examine whether they contribute to happiness. Finally, we will look at the role of public policy and the political process. The second and equally important objective of this course is for students to develop a practice that promotes attentional stability. This is commonly done via meditation or contemplation (developing an awareness of mind); during this part of the course students will be introduced to meditation practice in class. This course presents research about what factors make people happy therefore it is crucial that students are able to check their own minds to test this firsthand.  

HON 299: Practicing Nature, Deepening Compassion

This class will introduce students to the emerging literature that documents how Nature can make us healthier, happier and more creative. Students will learn contemplative practices that invite them to explore the natural world in a more “felt” way. This practice of embodied-ness will be the basis from which we learn to practice “deep listening,” and “bearing witness.” One of the fundamental modalities of this class will be to practice “beginner’s mind.” This state allows us to view the world through “fresh senses” and thus can be a way to access our creative potential. The beginner’s mind can also be insightful when discussing complex social and political problems. In summary, the course will invite students to “be” in nature in an experiential way and invite them to drop their default ways of thinking (i.e. evoke beginner’s mind), practice “presence,” and offer short trainings to help deepen the practice of compassion. No previous experience with the natural world is necessary – curiosity and bug spray are the only essentials!

ECO 399: Racial Economic Inequality

A key to understanding the US economic system is to identify the axes along which power, privilege and wealth are distributed; primary to this understanding is how the construct of race influenced and continues to distort the allocation of society’s resources. This class will begin with a historical analysis and explore ways in which these inequities continue to play out in the economy.  A key component of this class invites students to articulate strategies in which they, going forward, as future leaders of their communities and industry can lead conversations with a view to promoting justice and equity. Such leadership requires certain skills: the ability to listen deeply and to be completely present in the face of difficult emotional situations. The class will help students cultivate such skills through contemplative training such as being in nature, yoga, non-violent communication, and compassion training.

HON 299: The Surprising Science and Transforming Practice of Compassion

Compassion has been defined as the recognition of one’s own and others’ suffering and an evocation of a sympathetic concern that wishes to make things better. The new science of compassion shows that human beings are wired to be compassionate and caring and that practicing compassion actually helps us to be happier. The best news science gives us is that we do not have a compassionate “set point” we are born with. We can change how compassionate we are and by doing so, we can transform how we experience our world.  This class has two main objectives: to study the emerging science of compassion and train in compassion through self-reflection and other rigorously tested techniques. An experiential understanding of compassion is based on recognizing the interdependence of sentient beings and the planet. Such recognition can allow us to witness difficult situations in all their complexities without being paralyzed; the very essence of compassion is to try to alleviate such suffering. Societally, such training will allow us to engage constructively in divisive issues such as race, ethnicity and class. We will learn ways in which we can understand and hold seemingly contradictory perspectives.

SOJ 130: Framing (Im)migration

This class examines the concepts of (Im)Migration and the construction of (Im)Migrant identities by looking at recent (Im)Migration trends both locally and globally. Students will learn contemplative practices such as movement meditation, journaling, and family histories, and will use these methods to create a narrative that weaves together personal experience and historical trends. We will then compare this experiential narrative to the current rhetoric about (Im)Migration in the news.

HIH 300 and PSY 399: Sustainable Compassion Training

This course will provide evidence-based, actionable tools for educators and professional caregivers to prevent burnout and renew energy. The course will use a conceptual framework that integrates insights from developmental, clinical, and moral psychology along with contemporary neuroplasticity research and ancient contemplative practices. The course will be centered on the concept of caring relationships as the foundation for enhancing ethical sensitivity and sustaining high care for both the giver and the receiver. Students will learn how to cultivate a sense of inner safety and deep replenishment through the study and practice of three modes of care: receiving care from others, self-care, and extending care to others. 

For more information on this course, please contact Arline Saturdayborn.

HRD 540: Mindfulness in Adult Learning

This course examines the role of mindfulness practices and first-person inquiry in adult learning. Participants will examine the meaning of mindfulness from multiple perspectives, participate in mindfulness practices, and learn how to use mindfulness techniques in personal and professional lives. Participants will explore effective practices to create inclusive learning spaces. This course fulfills a skills-based middle core requirement in the Adult & Higher Education program.  It is open to current graduate students as well as people outside the university community. 

For more information on this course, please contact Emily McRobbie.