Call for Contemplative Education Book

The Intersubjective Turn in
Contemplative Education:

Shared Approaches for Contemplative Learning & Inquiry Across Disciplines

April 15, 2014

Dear Colleague,

We are currently putting together a book, The Intersubjective Turn in Contemplative Education: Shared Approaches for Contemplative Learning & Inquiry Across Disciplines. The book is the second in a series, following from the first book, Contemplative Learning and Inquiry across Disciplines (SUNY, 2014). We have received an advanced offer for publication with SUNY Press: New York.  This anthology will be comprised of chapters by practitioners/scholars who are working with second-person approaches in their research and pedagogic and professional work. We have identified your work as an important contribution to the emerging field of contemplative studies. Hence we are inviting you to submit a chapter for consideration to our anthology.

In the proposal that follows, we outline our aims and objectives, and provide a working Table of Contents. We also provide an overview of some of the characteristics of intersubjective contemplative education. Should you wish to contribute a chapter, we would ask you to focus on a section that showcases your approach and thinking on contemplative education.  We also invite questions in further dialogue to ensure that your submission gives adequate coverage of your/our specific areas of interest.  The formal 500 word abstract is due September 15th, 2014.

Most Sincerely,

Olen Gunnlaugson Ph.D.
Ed Sarath, M.A.
Heesoon Bai Ph.D.
Charles Scott, Ph.D.

The Intersubjective Turn BOOK PROPOSAL


Contemplative approaches to higher education are emerging from the work of scholar-practitioners who are pushing the current boundaries of educational theories and practices. Traditionally, academic learning has concentrated on intellectual development, establishing a prevailing pattern within higher education that strengthens individual learner’s critical, analytic, and deliberative abilities to the neglect of other essential ways of knowing and being. In response to this and other fundamental imbalances in higher education, over the past decade there has been a growing academic interest in contemplative studies as a transformative and in many ways “corrective” to this traditional approach, as reflected in several academic conferences and a growing educational literature focusing on contemplative approaches to teaching, learning and knowing.  Yet in surveying the literature, contemplative studies have emphasized a predominantly first-person standpoint—a response in part to the prevalence of third-person learning approaches that typify traditional academia.  To our thinking, this corrective has not extended far enough.

The re-balancing efforts to honor first-person forms of contemplative practice have for different reasons led to an omission of second-person approaches that cultivate collaborative discernment, inspire deeper shared and co-emergent contemplative states of knowing and generally move learners and educator towards a more collective focus in their learning engagements. Unlike either third-person or first-person methods, second-person approaches offer the benefits of engagement not only within but also between participants in the field of conversation. This provides a distinctive learning milieu or context in which collective wisdom and shared learning can emerge from a participatory rather than individual-centered ethos within groups. While not denying the significance of first- and third-person contemplative approaches or practices and their connections to second-person approaches, we believe a focus on the intersubjective within contemplative studies is long overdue.

Within intersubjective theory, there is the notion of the ‘‘intersubjective field,’’ which forms between any two or more persons where there are always at least three points of view: mine, yours, and ours together. Support for this work has surfaced within and across the fields of leadership development (Cunliffe & Eriksen, 2011; Isaacs, 1999; Jaworski, 1996; Scharmer, 2007; Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski, & Flowers, 2004), dialogue education (Arnett, 1992; Buber, 1965; Gunnlaugson, 2006, 2009; Lord, 2007), consciousness studies (De Quincey, 2000, Hargens, 2001; Thompson, 2001), psychotherapy (Gergen, 2009; Orange & Stolorow, 1998; Lord, 2007; creative arts (Kester, 2004, Walsh & Bai, forthcoming) with the collective improvisatory foundations of jazz (Sarath 2013), and collective intelligence (Atlee, 2003; Hamilton, 2004; Por, 1995), among others.

In his proposal for a new field of contemplative studies, Roth (2006) advocates integrating critical third-person and first-person approaches to contemplative study. Yet in spite of these important developments, a peer-reviewed book of current scholar-practitioners’ accounts of second-person contemplative approaches to learning across higher education settings has not yet been published.  We interpret this omission as an occasion and call for this book. For the purposes of this book, we are advocating for making a turn towards second-person study of intersubjective methods.

We believe contemplative approaches to learning and teaching will contribute significantly to the field of higher education at large, and see the timely need for continued engagement with the current landscape of contemplative education, pedagogy, and curriculum from the perspectives of leading researchers and practitioners. More broadly, we feel that second-person contemplative approaches can play a significant role in helping us create deeper, more meaningful, and sustainable relationships with others and with the various ecologies that surround us. In this book, we propose to bring together the existing range of second-person contemplative approaches that draw upon diverse contexts and to present them in a common format, in turn making this research more accessible to both researchers and educators. Our intention is to raise awareness of the applicability of intersubjective approaches to contemplative education as capable of informing, enriching, and sustaining the many disciplines and educational contexts currently being enriched by contemplative perspectives.


In effect, this book will be the first to map out current academic voices and perspectives on second-person contemplative education through featured writings on the experiences, challenges, and promise of these approaches from scholar-practitioners across disciplines. Additionally, this book will explore key theoretical aspects of contemplative instruction outlining current approaches and blind spots within various contexts and the emerging field as a whole.


We anticipate the primary readership of this book will be faculty across disciplines, teacher educators, students, researchers and practitioners in many wellness and health sectors, leaders in public and private organizations, consultants, and others with an interest in contemplative approaches to higher education. We also hope the book will act as a resource that will serve university educators and teachers looking for innovative and comprehensive solutions to curricular, pedagogical, interpersonal, or administrative challenges they face. Finally, we look forward to this book being adopted for curricula relating to innovative or contemplative approaches to higher education.


In order to provide some structure to our invite, we outline the following general sections within which we anticipate most of the proposals might fall.  However, we do not wish to exclude from consideration any that are not readily placed within these categories:

I: Theoretical Aspects. The first main section of the book will focus on the theoretical articulations of intersubjective approaches to contemplative studies across disciplines, including second-person contemplative pedagogy (perspectives on the process of learning/education); second-person contemplative curriculum (perspectives on the implications for course design); and shared modes of contemplative learning and inquiry (explorations of the role of transformation and development).  This section will consider obstacles and challenges of implementing second-person contemplative educational approaches and perspectives in the university and the possibilities of intersubjective approaches in being transformative.

II: Case Studies. This section will focus on applications of intersubjective approaches to contemplative teaching and learning, addressing case studies within post-secondary settings and online education, including perspectives of graduate students, drawing on actual class activities and exercises employed by faculty members, among other approaches.

III: Next Steps. We will also include chapters that address the hopes for making an Intersubjective turn in contemplative studies as a viable course of scholarship, identifying specific educational implications for second-person contemplative approaches and research. This section will close with exploratory perspectives on the future of intersubjective approaches to contemplative teaching, learning and inquiry, including an editorial summary.


In your submission, we encourage you to reflect on the intersubjective characteristics that are essential in your work with contemplative instruction, learning and inquiry. We encourage multiple discourses and invite you to introduce new distinctions that you feel optimally serve your objectives and experience in a language that is academically rigorous, personally satisfying, and speaks to what you perceive are the important needs of the field at this time.

We look forward to your abstract!

Olen Gunnlaugson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Leadership & Organizational Development within the Department of Management in the Business School at Université Laval, in Quebec City, Canada. Olen finds teaching and research to be deeply rewarding and views business education as a key societal vehicle for developing and transforming the next generation of self-aware, sustainably-minded leaders and managers. He brings an increasingly multidisciplinary background to his research and consulting interests in conversational leadership, collective intelligence forms of communication in groups and teams, and executive coaching, which have been published across several books as well as numerous peer-reviewed academic journals and presentations at international conferences.

Edward W. Sarath is Professor of Music in the Department in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at The University of Michigan and Director of U-M’s Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies.  He is also active as performer, composer, recording artist, and author and is founder and President of the International Society for Improvised Music.  His most recent book, Improvisation, Creativity, and Consciousness: Jazz as an Integral Template for Music, Education, and Society (State University of New York/Albany), presents the first appropriation to music of an emergent, consciousness-based worldview called Integral Theory.  His prior book, Music Theory Through Improvisation: A New Approach to Musicianship Training (Routledge 2010), presents an innovative framework for core curriculum musicianship studies based in a class he has designed and taught at Michigan for 20 years. He is co-editor of a forthcoming volume called Contemplative Approaches to Learning and Inquiry (SUNY/Albany, 2014). His most recent CD is New Beginnings, which features the London Jazz Orchestra performing his large ensemble compositions.  He is a member of the College Music Society’s Task Force on the Undergraduate Music Major, and a fellow of the National Center for Institutional Diversity, American Council of Learned Societies, Ford Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts.  In demand as a speaker, he has recently delivered keynote addresses to the National Association of Schools of Music and newly-formed Society for Consciousness Studies.

Heesoon Bai, Ph.D. is Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada. She is also an associate faculty in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at SFU. She researches and writes in the intersections of ethics, ecological worldviews, contemplative ways, and Asian philosophies. Her books include: Fields of Green: Restorying Culture, Environment, Education (co-edited with M. MacKenzie, P. Hart & B. Jickling); Speaking of Teaching: Inclinations, Inspirations, and Innerworkings; Speaking of learning: Recollections, Revelations, and Realizations  (both volumes, co-authored with A. Cohen, C. Leggo, M. Porath, A. Clarke, & K. Meyer); and Contemplative Learning and Inquiry Across Disciplines (co-edited with O. Gunnlaugson, E. Sarath & C. Scott). Her most recent publications are in Journal of Moral Education, Studies in Philosophy and Education, Cultural Studies of Science Education: CSSE, and International Handbook on Research in Environmental Education. Through her work and teaching, she promotes cross-cultural, worldview-informed, wisdom tradition-based, and contemplative education.


Charles Scott, Ph. D.
is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at City University of Seattle where he coordinates a Master’s program in educational leadership where the focus in on relationality. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University where he employs second-person contemplative approaches in his teaching practices; these include an M.Ed. program for international students, a doctoral program on Transformational Change in which he specializes in dialogue, and courses on curriculum theory and implementation. His research interests include contemplative and dialogical pedagogies, transformative education, and contemplative approaches within critical pedagogy. In addition, he practices intersubjective contemplative approaches in his yoga practice, in skiing, and in photography.


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