Master of Education

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Contemplative Inquiry & Approaches in Education

Method of delivery:
In-person
Applications open:
November 1, 2022
Applications close:
March 15, 2023
Next start date:
September 2023

Learn how to fill the growing hunger for contemplative perspectives and practices in educational institutions, communities and the world at large.

Program Overview

Designed For

Educators, leaders, service-providers and decision-makers in both public and private settings who are seeking deeper levels of inquiry and transformation to apply contemplative theory and practices in their respective institutions.

Program Structure

  • 2 year, 35-unit program (7 5-unit courses)
  • In-person classes every second or third week on Friday evenings and Saturdays

Intake Schedule

Applications are typically accepted biennually.

Next Start Terms
Summer 2023
Summer 2025

Program Design & Courses

Program Design

Designed with working professionals in mind, this two-year degree program offers the opportunity to obtain a high-quality master's degree. Our cohort-based model allows students to work through the program and coursework together (18-24 students).

This program aims to fill the growing hunger for contemplative perspectives and practices in our educational institutions, communities, and world at large.

The program builds the foundational human capacity for thinking expansively, clearly, complexly, and creatively, which requires us to be emotionally open and relational as well as non-reactive, mentally centered and attuned, somatically grounded and in harmony. 

Goals of the Program

  • Develop resilience (in the post-pandemic world) by theory and practice of contemplative inquiry;
  • Develop “contemplative capacity” in an age of anxiety, depression, vulnerability, and distraction;
  • Grow as leaders, educators, scholars, as students within an institution, as citizens, parents and caregivers, by becoming intellectually curious, broad-minded, emotionally balanced;
  • Enable to deepen, extend, and refine leadership perspective and skills;
  • Develop a contemplative education “disposition” that contributes to educational philosophy and practice;
  • Develop “sustainable selves” (Adelman, 2014);
  • Learn within a robust, broad, deep and coherent conceptual framework that builds on the knowledge, wisdom, and understandings developed so far in the contemplative education field;
  • Learn from and work with leading scholars in the field.

Program Philosophy

In an era in which conventional wisdom is being rapidly upended, institutional authority is increasingly questioned, and the social contract is gravely threatened, professionals in all fields are summoned to respond with discernment, compassion, vision, and skillful practicality.  It therefore behooves us educators in higher education, expecting such enlightened leadership, to provide education to professionals as they navigate through challenging, untraveled terrain. We cannot expect worthwhile ends without well-crafted means.

Our Master’s program in Contemplative Inquiry is about building the foundational capacity for exemplary professional conduct; leadership infused with wisdom, discernment, focus, and perspective; and inquiry that has depth and is holistically grounded in all parts of our being. What is this foundational capacity and how is it built? The short but precise answer: contemplative disposition and practice.

A longer answer: from contemporary neurobiological and psychological research literature, from advances in educational theory, research, and practice, as well as from studies in leadership and organizational management, evidence is clear that, for us to do our work well, meaningfully, effectively, and without succumbing to debilitating stress, it is crucial to have the capacity to stay centered, balanced, grounded, attuned to self and others, and capable of wise decision-making.  Today’s professionals must have not only technical competence, but also relational skills. As well, they must have a deep and enduring capacity for vulnerability and compassion, and the capacity to not only be in the thick of things but also to “go to the balcony” and take in the broader perspective, integrating that knowledge into nurturing body, mind, and spirit.

Our Master’s program in Contemplative Inquiry builds such capacity through dialogic cohort community building, individual and collective cultivation of contemplative dispositions and skills, and enactment-based knowledge building in educational subject matters ranging over curriculum design, pedagogy, educational programming, assessment, leadership, embodiment, indigenous knowledge, arts-based inquiry, and social and moral philosophy/ethics.

Courses

Students complete:

EDUC 833-5 SOCIAL AND MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN EDUCATION

An in-depth study of the ethical foundations of education. Areas in education where ethical questions arise are identified and elucidated. Classical and modern moral positions are examined for their adequacy as theories of moral justification. The topics include the value of education, freedom and equality, and moral and values education.

We aim toward the application of contemplative ways of knowing, learning, and teaching in participants’ professional work and personal life. We focus on development of a learning community of practice, especially from contemplative theory perspectives and practice approaches.

There is inquiry into the nature of scholarship and critical thinking/engagement, especially from a contemplative orientation. There is inquiry into the nature of the contemporary world characterized by multiplicity and complexity of worldviews/paradigms, modus vivendi, and the associated challenges. As well, we inquire into the aims, scope, and possibilities of moral agency and examine models, tools and resources, including contemplative ones, for transformation of the moral self; there is investigation into how contemplative inquiry can serve ethically as a response to individual and social/societal needs.

EDUC 816-5 Developing Educational Programs and Practices for Diverse Educational Settings

Investigates theories and issues associated with developing educational programs and practices in various educational contexts. Addresses the development of new programs and their implementation in schools and other educational settings.

Effective educational programs are designed. In this course, we will explore how theory and research can contribute to the design of programs that are meaningful and promote transformative contemplative learning.

As this is a time of rapid civilizational change and upheaval, we might feel a moral activation to serve well. If we are designing educational programs, regardless of the setting or audience, how might we design and implement them to serve others well, to embrace and to offer the possibilities of what Aristotle referred to as eudaimonia (human flourishing)? This is the question that might motivate our collective inquiries during this course. All the classical contemplative traditions are inspired, motivated, and guided by a set of moral principles that aim to promote eudaimonia, happiness, well-being, enlightenment, peace and equanimity, kindness and compassion.

How might we design educational programs that are aligned with these moral goals and, as well, embody principles and practices that represent the best of educational theory and research?

EDUC 816-5 Embodiment and Curriculum Inquiry

The scholarship on embodiment and its implications for the body as a site for knowledge and its relationship to contemporary curriculum inquiry will be studied with specific emphasis on the area of performative and narrative inquiry and arts education. Central to this course will be the investigation of embodiment from both a philosophical perspective and a literary/poetic perspective. Equivalent Courses: EDUC712

We explore philosophical, contemplative, and literary/poetic perspectives along a visceral perspective rooted in movement, dance, walking and physicality in a variety of forms, and even our limitations.

Particular attention will be given to the relationship between philosophies of the body and their relevance to us as researchers, educators, artists, and human beings. The mind-body dualism will be examined and its impact on how research is enacted, and how we enter the practice of teaching and reflect on our practice. The notion of “bodily attending” will be developed both for reflexivity, moving, writing, and pedagogy. A major question will concern how an informed understanding of embodiment can have pragmatic influence on the way we experience knowledge and articulate knowledge and its importance for bodily mindfulness.

EDUC 861-5 Current Issues in Curriculum and Pedagogy

Focuses on educational issues, trends and practices which impact teaching and learning in schools and other educational settings.

As in all the courses, the instructors bring a contemplative perspective to the course material. We live in complicated times: increased connectivity, fragmentation, abundance, marginalization, violence, fear, the sacred, one world and divided worlds, threats, marvels, risks, hope, wonder! It is becoming apparent that education itself is subject to these new social, economic, political and cultural influences, pressures and realities and hence, even its purposes are being challenged.

This course is intended to recognize some of these realities and to explore and reflect on how contemplative practice may help us to align with educational values, curricular goals and pedagogical approaches that advance equity, social justice and the well-being of all. Grounding ourselves in such questions as ‘What is curriculum?’, ‘Who is it for?’, ‘What values does it represent?’ and ‘What will it accomplish?’, we will examine the social, cultural, political, and economic connections related to curriculum in our times. We will identify and explore key influences that shape contemporary practices, and consider issues such as the connections between curriculum and power, identity, knowledge, culture and language. We will also investigate the practice of selected pedagogical approaches in the light of shifting, and often competing discourses on learning and teaching.

Our work together will be informed by evolving understandings and experience of contemplative practice, both collective and individual, seeking to apply these practices to real world issues in the classroom and community. How may these curricular and pedagogical approaches be enhanced, enriched, and transformed, even, by contemplative practice? What contribution can contemplative education make to our multiple communities and their well-being?

EDUC 830-5 Curriculum and Instruction in an Individual Teaching Speciality

An intensive examination of developments in a curriculum area selected by the student. In addition the course will deal with major philosophical and historical factors that influence the present state and future directions of curriculum and instruction.

We also explore the historical, cultural, and philosophical roots of the major worldviews; the various theoretical orientations to curriculum; the different positions regarding pedagogy; and other influences on our understandings of what contemplative practice is, the role of the contemplative, and our perspectives on contemplative education.

From within these various cultural and epistemological perspectives, we will focus on how cultural orientations to contemplative practice, and the role of the contemplative educator impact communities of practice and education. The students as contemplative/educators will be encouraged to bring together theory and practice as well as personal knowledge in relation to their own understandings of education, contemplation, and their particular contemplative practice. As teacher/researchers they will be encouraged to explore an in-depth arts-based inquiry within their teaching specialty and/or research interest.

EDUC 904-5 FIELDWORK III

EDUC 904 usually serves as the concluding course of this program. In that scheduling context, the inter-related aims of the course, the 4Cs, are to Consolidate (students’ cumulative understandings); Connect (students with each other, the guest speakers, the authors, and with themselves), Collaborate (students work together on areas of mutual scholarly interest), and Continue (extending and embedding the transformative effect of the program into students’ professional and personal lives beyond the program).

A fifth C will be added, namely, to Contemplate the diversity of contemplative practices and their potential role in students’ holistic growth, be that intellectual, professional, spiritual, emotional or cultural development, or in the subtle but dynamic fusion between these aspects of being human. This could include an elucidation of what the concept of “contemplative education” means to students at this point in their learning journey. Students may also choose to explore the relationships between conventional 3rd person, 1st person and 2nd person ways of knowing (objective, subjective and inter-subjective).

Students will also have an opportunity to further their understanding of major research methodologies and an opportunity to further develop their academic writing. Students will be expected to continue to document their lived experiences via their respective portfolios and will also engage in continued critical exploration of major educational ideas germane to the program.

All of this will be viewed through the contemplative pedagogical and philosophic lens that represents and reflects the program’s theoretical framework. This includes the ongoing development of students’ contemplative capacity, deepening students’ understanding of the pivotal relationship between objective, subjective and inter-subjective forms of learning, and continuing to cultivate the “container”, that is, a holistic, learning and development environment wherein relationships, intellectual curiosity, embodied knowledge and trust are highly honoured and consciously practiced.

EDUC 883-5 MED COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION

The examination is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

One of the fundamental aims of our program is the cultivation of a learning community. We believe that the cohort structure provides the conditions for a “transformational cauldron” to develop and grow. This type of learning environment best facilitates what we hope to accomplish together, namely, our collective and individual holistic and contemplative growth. This includes growth in the intellectual, ethical, social, emotional, psychological, existential, embodied, and (for those who speak this language) “spiritual” dimensions.

During the entire program, students will create and develop a portfolio (digital and/or non-digital) that serves both as a reflective space and an opportunity to integrate their learning. The comprehensive examination consists of a presentation of that material for faculty and fellow students.

At the conclusion of MEd coursework, in the same semester that the last course is taking place, the cohort of MEd students host a capstone event as a community gathering, that is, a symposium, in which we practice intersubjectivity as we reflect, share, and celebrate our two-year learning journey. We boldly say in our program that “relationship is a teacher.” The course work is assessed the formal terminology of “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.” The grading is done by the participating faculty members. Additionally, fellow students and faculty provide oral feedback at the time of the presentation.

Program courses and order of delivery subject to change.

Locations

At SFU, campus life is rich with opportunities to engage with people, ideas and activities that contribute to personal development and a better world.

Vancouver

Our Vancouver campus transformed the landscape of urban education in downtown Vancouver. The campus comprises multiple facilities clustered in the core of one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Simon Fraser University respectfully acknowledges the unceded traditional territories including, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, on which SFU Vancouver is located.

Faculty

This program is taught by instructors who themselves are ongoing learners and practitioners of various forms of contemplative inquiry and practice, and we endeavor to model what we espouse.

Future Pathways

Where can this program take you? The world is changing rapidly and so is the full range of career and academic opportunities that await.

Occupations

  • Teachers
  • Adult and community educators
  • Indigneous/First Nations educators
  • Outdoor educators
  • Park interpreters
  • Naturalists
  • Conservationists

Further Studies

Student Experiences

Meet some Curriculum & Instruction: Contemplative Inquiry and Approaches in Education MEd students and alumni.

Fionna Chong, 2016 Graduate

Denise Finlay, XXXX Graduate

Allen Yee, 2019 Graduate

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