The Lure of Summer Programs
Attracts 2,800 to Smith
For six days in mid-August, 32 professors from the United
States and Canada gathered for a residential session with scholars and teachers interested
in finding ways to integrate contemplative practices—such as silent meditation
or movement practices like t’ai chi chuan or yoga—into higher education.
They discussed pedagogical issues, including evaluation, grading options and instructional
techniques, and ways to encourage contemplative practices and traditions at colleges
“The university is well-practiced at educating
the mind for critical reasoning, critical writing and critical speaking, as well
as for scientific and quantitative analysis. But is this sufficient?” asks
Arthur Zajonc, academic program director for the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and professor
of physics at Amherst College. “In a world beset with conflicts, internal as well as external,
isn’t it of equal if not greater importance to balance the sharpening of our intellects with the
systematic cultivation of our hearts?”
Among the faculty members leading summer sessions on
contemplative curriculum development were Frédérique
Apffel-Marglin, Smith professor of anthropology; Hal Roth, professor of religious studies and East
Asian studies at Brown University; and Professor Zajonc.
These educators were not
alone in making good use of Smith’s facilities during the summer months
when most Smith students were scattered about the world for summer jobs, vacations and internships.
Faculty joined dancers, athletes, vocalists, research scientists and physicians,
who occupied Smith’s teaching
spaces and some residences while participating in programs and trainings on campus. Indeed, by summer’s
end more than 2,800 people (not including students in the School for Social Work) had lived temporarily
at Smith and sat in classrooms and attended conferences while participating in 29 programs of varying
content, length and objectives.
Each summer for the past four years has seen an increase
in the number of programs—and participants—on
campus, says Diane Jacobs, the summer programs/events coordinator. The previous summer, the college
accommodated more than two thousand people in 25 programs.—JME