Expand AU Menu

Contemplative Environmental Studies: More Information

More Information

Lama Foundation








Institutional Support and Objectives

The Summer Institute builds on the work of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. The Association is a network of institutions and academics committed to restoring and renewing the contribution that contemplative practices can make to teaching, inquiry, and scholarship. The Association supports exploration into the ways that practices aimed at cultivating awareness, compassion, and insight can enhance higher education. Such practices are particularly appropriate to environmental studies. The Summer Institute provides an opportunity for those in a variety of disciplines to share their insights and learn about cutting edge research at the interface between contemplative practice and global environmental challenges. For this reason, we invite participants from the full range of disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives including the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

The Institute is supported by the Global Environmental Politics (GEP) Program in the School of International Service at American University, Washington DC. GEP engages in research and teaching in a variety of issue areas focused around the challenges of global sustainability. It has specific expertise in the politics of Climate Change, Water, Food and Agriculture, Environmental Security, Environmental Activism, and Sustainable Development. A focus on environmental political engagement is central to the summer Institute’s aims insofar as the workshop seeks to link the interior and exterior dimensions of environmental concern and practice.     

Setting and Agenda

The Institute will take place at the Lama Foundation in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Lama is a beautiful, off-grid community committed to sustainable and mindful living. It sits on 100 acres surrounded by National Forest land and draws its power from the sun, water from a spring, and much of its food in the summer directly from the garden. Lama’s funky, solar-powered, eco-laboratory has been a locus of inner and outer work since Ram Dass wrote Be Here Now under its tall ponderosa pines back in 1971. At 8500 feet, it provides an ideal setting for reflection and engagement with contemplative environmental issues.

Each day will include sessions that explore the contemplative nature of environmental affairs, such as the role of compassion, silence, direct experience, and engaged social action in responding to environmental dangers. Each day will also include substantial contemplative practice time. As a group, we will engage in meditation, yoga, art exercises, journaling, nature walks, and community tuning. There will also be opportunities for participants to partake of other contemplative activities hosted by the Lama community, and to use free time to deepen one’s personal practice (or simply relax). The Institute will weave these activities together through a focus on contemplative environmental pedagogy. It aims to cultivate ways of best educating college and university students in a time of monumental environmental intensification.

Accommodations at Lama are relatively rustic. Limited guest rooms are available, but most participants camp under ponderosa pines close to bathrooms, showers, meeting rooms, and Lama’s historic library. For women who choose not to tent camp, there is a dormitory style yurt. Participants must supply their own camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, and pad). (Arrangements can be made to rent these.) The weather is close to perfect in July. Three vegetarian meals are provided every day plus snacks. We see the natural setting of Lama enhancing the workshop goals.

Families and Guests

Too often, our professional commitments take us away from our families and dear ones. In an effort to make the workshop more meaningful and sustainable, Lama welcomes guests. Guests are unable to attend workshop sessions, but can stay with participants on the mountain and take part in Lama community activities.

Participants can eat with their families or guests, and spend time with them during unscheduled blocks of time.

Please keep in mind that Lama requires small children to be supervised by a parent at all times.

Lama requests that guests pay a nominal daily fee for meals and accommodations.

If you are interested in bringing a guest or family member(s), please discuss arrangements with Paul Wapner.

(Please note that, while your guests are warmly invited, the workshop is pretty all-consuming, so you might want simply to attend by yourself.)