Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth

Third Advisor

Marilyn Hetzel

Fourth Advisor

Arthur Jones

Fifth Advisor

Paul Michalec


Contemplative education, Mindfulness, Performing arts training


In the late 20th century and early 21st century, contemplative education/studies courses, concentrations, and initiatives have emerged in the academy. Although there has been significant discussion of postsecondary courses and programs that have integrated contemplative views and practices in the literature, there have been few studies of contemplative curricula and pedagogy in higher education. Additionally, there have been even fewer inquiries of the influence of contemplative education on performing arts training within conservatories and college and university departments. The aim of this qualitative study was two-fold: (1) to describe, interpret, and appraise the impact of contemplative education on the curricula of an interdisciplinary conservatory level performing arts program, MFA Contemporary Performance, at Naropa University; and (2) to disclose, compare, and analyze MFA student perceptions of the influence of contemplative education on their professional and personal development. The following questions guided this study: (1) How do faculty and students characterize contemplative education within the MFA in Theater: Contemporary Performance Program? (2) How does contemplative education impact the intended and operational curricula of courses within the MFA Contemporary Performance Program? (3) How do graduate students perceive the effects of contemplative education, offered by the MFA Contemporary Performance Program, on the development of their communication abilities, presence-in-performance, sociolinguistic perspectives, and aesthetic perspectives?

Based on the research methodology of educational criticism and connoisseurship, this investigation provides a vivid description and interpretation of the intended and operational curricula of three core courses within the MFA program. These curricula were examined through five dimensions: intentional, curricular, pedagogical, structural, and evaluative. In order to shape our understanding of the contemplative and performative nature of the curricula, the significant and subtle qualities of the courses were further captured by preparation, context-building, reflective, showing, and closing conventions. Since the courses were grounded in postmodern view, they were evaluated according to Doll's criteria of richness, recursion, relations, and rigor for the evaluation of postmodern curricula.

MFA first- and second-year students primarily characterized contemplative education as body/mind training for performance and personal development, sitting meditation, and cultivation of mindfulness and awareness. Student perceptions of the impact of contemplative education on the development of their communication abilities, presence-in-performance, sociolinguistic perspectives, and aesthetic perspectives, throughout the course of their two-year training, are presented in a dimensional analysis.

The research reveals eight different themes that intersect the three core curricula and interviews with MFA students and faculty. These thematics include inclusivity, nowness, silence, improvisation, goodness, heart, training, and space. The beginning letter of each theme combines to form the acronym, insights. The framework of insights connects and illuminates the most potent aspects of MFA Contemporary Performance values and training.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Linda Anne Sanders


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

240 p.


Performing Arts Education, Curriculum Development, Pedagogy