The integration of self-inquiry meditation into higher education: between philosophy and practice, beyond mindfulness, towards an embodied curriculum

  • BUTTARAZZI Gabriella

    Student thesis: EdD Thesis


    The integration of meditation and other contemplative practices in higher education contexts generates debate as to whether it should be understood as serving merely instrumentalist aims or as having intrinsic educational value. This thesis contributes to that discussion through a two-part literature review, covering first the origins of meditation and then the evidence-base underpinning the integration of meditation in higher education. It also examines the role of the body in sense-making and taking an integral approach to the integration of meditative practices into higher education. The position adopted here is that it is necessary to engage with embodied, traditional and authentic conceptualisations of meditation to offer students a deeper and more meaningful/transformative experience. The instrumentalist aim of much research in this field has implied a positivistic focus on measurable outcomes, which this thesis proposes are valuable and revealing, but often also limited in being able to capture subtle, phenomenological first-person student experiences. This qualitative study was designed to evaluate an elective course that integrates two meditation practices and a range of written critical reflection practices that was made available to undergraduate students at the Chinese campus of a British university. The study draws on action research principles and employs multiple-methods, including reflective writing tasks, field notes, structured interviews and internet-mediated information gathering. The approach offered students ample opportunity to offer critical first-person reflections, both to improve ongoing course design and illuminate understanding the connection between meditation, personal change and daily-life integration. Data was gathered from three groups of 20 students over a period of 18 months. The findings indicate that the meditation practices and other elements of the course were well-received. Students reported significant personal change and newfound knowledge, an outcome warranting further investment and research.
    Date of Award8 Jul 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Univerisity of Nottingham
    SupervisorBob Adamson (Supervisor)


    • self-inquiry meditation
    • mindfulness
    • higher education
    • contemplative pedagogy
    • embodied curriculum
    • action research

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