Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Joanne P. Waghorne


Contemplative Pedagogy, Contemplative Practices, Contemplative Sciences, Contemplative Studies, Religion, Spirituality

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This project is about the new field of contemplative studies, a field that seeks to use “contemplative” practices, derived mostly (though not entirely) from religious traditions in academic settings, prominently including college pedagogy. First, this project seeks to understand how contemplative studies advocates persuade others (and themselves) that what they are doing is not “religion;” that is, how do they define "religion" in order to situate their own work as non-religious academic inquiry? Second, in the course of my textual and ethnographic research on contemplative studies, it has become apparent that this field adds to the growing rebuttal of religious studies critiques of mind-centered “spiritualities.” In contrast to analyses of “spirituality” as a consumerist conceit, such as Carrette and King’s Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion (2004), many contemplative studies advocates are working to orient the field toward the use of contemplative practices to promote critical thinking, empathy, and activism. In this project, I analyze contemplative studies texts, my experiences at contemplative studies events, and my interviews with advocates to describe these two trends and try to put them in historical context.


Open Access