Academic Courses

Recent Academic Courses

Meditation and Yoga Courses
Each semester, Professor William Huntley offers REL 210: Introduction to Meditation, giving students an opportunity to study and experience Zazen, a Zen Buddhist approach to meditation that Prof. Huntley has practiced for many decades.  Once a year, Professor Fran Grace also offers REL 210 or REL 290, which are Meditation courses that teach students a variety of contemplative methods through text and practice.  Each semester, Professor Patricia Geary offers a JNST course on Yoga, based on her many decades as a certified Yoga instructor in multiple settings. These experiential academic courses are offered as pass/fail electives for undergraduate students at the University.  Students greatly appreciate the benefits of learning methods to reduce anxiety, increase concentration, and foster wellness and self-awareness. Here is a sample of their reflections. 

Compassion Course – Intergenerational Class of May 2015 
Beginning in 2014, the Meditation Room opened up two of its courses for enrollment by adults aged 30-85.  We found that the presence of older adults enriched the learning environment.  Says Professor Fran Grace, “In many cultures around the world, young people have a high respect for the wisdom of community elders, and they sit at the feet of the wisdom holders.  In American society, unfortunately, we suffer from a growing divide between the generations and this elder wisdom goes untapped. Liberal arts education, in its classical sense, was about growing in wisdom. The older adults shared keen insights into the meaning of life, and the college students shared their energy, hope, and experience of the interconnectedness of all people beyond boundaries of race, age, gender, and religion.”  For the students’ accounts of the experience, click here.   

The class members of 2015 helped to offer two major events to the larger community, which brought together over 2,000 visitors around the themes of Compassion and Loving Kindness:  The Mother Teresa Exhibit, and the Maitreya Buddha Loving Kindness Tour. 

 Johnston Center Course:  Sufi Path of Love 
In Spring 2017, Professor Fran Grace taught a course in the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies that explored the wisdom of Sufism and the guidance it can offer as humanity faces current global difficulties.  Some of the themes studied were: Sufi mystical poetry (Rumi, Hafiz, Rabia, Attar), Spiritual Ecology, Principles of the Sufi Path, Dances of Universal Peace, Sufi Psychology, Meditations of the Heart.   The class members hosted a film screening by Megan McFeely of her award-winning documentary inspired by the Sufi path, AS SHE IS.  The class took a field trip to Cal-Earth Institute, founded by Iranian-America Sufi Nader Khalili, translator of Rumi and example of Rumi’s statement, “Earth turns to gold in the hands of the wise.” See below for photo gallery of the field trip.  Photography by class member Meggan Austin.