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Transformative Pedagogy in Times of Crisis

October 2, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

How will we teach in the post or ongoing Covid-19 era? It seems a simple, perhaps mundane question, but we believe it merits serious discussion—not merely from a technological or technical perspective—but as a profound political, pedagogical and perhaps even spiritual/existential problem and opportunity. Managing and responding to Covid-19 on college campuses represents one of the biggest disruptions in higher education for faculty, students and staff in the long history of higher education.  Faculty will require new skills and practices to navigate this critical juncture.  For us, this moment underscores the importance of spaces in which we can collectively discuss, share and think through how to best teach in, to and from such a unique moment.  The hope is that we can turn this disorienting time into one of embodied and transformative pedagogy—for faculty, students and community alike. 

This seminar will be organized around emerging and established interdisciplinary literatures on the uses of contemplative and embodied practices—with a focus on their intersection with social change and social justice education— in and outside of the classroom.  Contemplative practices work to cultivate capacities for deep concentration and quieting the mind in the midst of the action and distraction of day to day life; these vary from meditation, to yoga, to qi gong, to walking in nature. In addition to quieting the mind, these practices help bring awareness to the body and how we experience information, knowledge, emotions in the body. Research on mindfulness, contemplative and other embodied practices in higher education and other settings, reveals that they are extremely effective in not only alleviating stress and anxiety, but perhaps more importantly for our purposes, in increasing students’ capacities for critical thinking, creativity, divergent thinking and non-reactive awareness. 

The focus of the seminar will be to both engage some of these practices and explore and interrogate their role in teaching and improving higher education. 

When you RSVP you will be sent a Zoom link and a few questions to help us tailor the event to those who are coming, and to get a sense of some of the challenges folks are facing and interested in addressing. 

Please note, you do not need to be a teacher or have any experience with contemplative or other mindfulness practices. 

This (new) Carolina Seminar on Transformative Pedagogy in Times of Crisis is being convened by Michal Osterweil, Teaching Associate Professor, Curriculum in Global Studies and Michele Tracy Berger, Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. 

Combined, the conveners have over twenty years of experience in employing these practices in their teaching and research projects. Berger has been a co-investigator on yoga and mindfulness interventions with elementary and middle school children for the past five years. She has developed courses on contemplative practices and social justice. Osterweil has been training and teaching with mindfulness, somatic experiencing and has participated in research projects on transformational change projects with numerous practitioners since 2007. 

Questions? Contact; or 


October 2, 2020
11:00 am - 12:30 pm