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The Best Idea

Winners of "The Best Idea": A Competitive Grant for Incubating Innovative Cross-Disciplinary Research 

The Center for Teaching, Research & Learning (CTRL) offered a grant for $6,000 to support a team of AU faculty from across disciplines to develop a research idea.  The Best Idea award is for a wide variety of needs, ranging from conference fees, student labor, computer software, to data sets.  Purchases would be arranged through AU/CTRL.   The expectation is that this seed grant will evolve into a larger research enterprise, a university center or institute, by developing a critical mass of knowledge.  

The 2010 winners of the The Best Idea is the proposal “Integrative Environmental Studies Program: Consciousness and the Environment.”  Team members include

  • Paul Wapner (Associate Professor and Director of Global Environmental Politics in SIS)
  • Deborah Norris (Psychologist-in-Residence, Adjunct Professor, and Director of the Psychobiology of Healing Certificate Program in the Department of Psychology in CAS)
  • Sonya A. Grier (Associate Professor of Marketing at The Kogod School of Business)
  • Evan Berry (Assistant Professor of Philosophy in CAS and Co-Director of the MA Program in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs).

Their proposal is an innovative approach to environmental issues that “threaten the immediate health and well-being of the most vulnerable on the planet and, at the extreme, the fundamental organic infrastructure of life on earth.  The mission of this project is to begin to examine the multi-dimensional, cross-disciplinary issues that affect environmentalism from a perspective of mindfulness, meditation and contemplation.  Contemplative studies and other practices of mindfulness offers profound insights into the most challenging of questions, and may shed light on humanities relation with the environment in the future.”  The goal is to develop a larger program of teaching and learning. 

The winning team is planning a spring event to highlight work in the field: A Workshop on Environmental Consciousness and Contemplation.