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Engaging with Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, & Research

A Free International Online Conference 
Aug 16-18, 2022

Featuring thought-provoking presentations by a diverse group of scholars, teachers, practitioners, and artists on the transformative potential of meditative inquiry

Conference Speaker
Biographies & Abstracts

Ehaab D. Abdou is Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship at the Department of Global Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo. His research seeks to promote the inclusion of marginalized narratives and perspectives, focusing on the inclusion of youths through avenues of social entrepreneurship and civil society at large, and traditionally marginalized perspectives and narratives in K-12 curricula and classrooms. Within the field of curriculum studies, his research aims at rendering K-12 school curricula more holistic and inclusive, especially of historically and systematically marginalized perspectives, narratives, and epistemologies. His research mainly focuses on the Canadian and Egyptian contexts.  
Holistic and Contemplative Education Scholars' Panel, Aug 16, 3:50 - 5:20pm
Reflecting on the Meditative Inquiry Volume in Relation to Contemplative Practices in the Classroom. 
Based on the invitation of the conference organizers, Ehaab will be sharing some reflections on the edited volume. He will also attempt to critically engage with it, especially based on his efforts to introduce contemplative practices from various wisdom traditions within his university teaching.
Nayha Acharya is Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University (Canada). She completed her LLB at the University of Alberta, and her LLM and PhD (Law) at the Schulich School of Law. She teaches and researches in the areas of legal ethics, civil procedure, and alternative dispute resolution. She has published in several journals of interest to legal practitioners and academics as well as those in higher education, including Advocates’ Quarterly, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Queens’ Law Journal, Canadian Legal Education Annual Review, and Critical Education. In 2020–2021, she was awarded the Law Alumni Association & Law Students Society Award for Excellence in Teaching Law.

Book Contributors’ Panel 4, Structure, Consciousness, and Change, Aug 17, 2:30 - 3:50pm.
My Journey with Meditative Inquiry: Teaching, Learning, and Researching in Law and Dispute Resolution. This presentation is an autobiographical rendition of how Ashwani Kumar’s notion of meditative inquiry has influenced Acharya's teaching practices as well as reorienting her research interests in law. Acharya shares how she has used the teaching as meditative inquiry approach in her Alternative Dispute Resolution course, which she teaches at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University (Canada). She discusses the value of giving students freedom and space and how it ignites their own passions and creativity in relation to the subject matter. Acharya then explains how her study of meditative inquiry through the text Curriculum as Meditative Inquiry led her to perceive that while legal scholarship often centres around conflicts, it rarely, if ever, pierces the heart of conflict itself, which, as Kumar suggests, is fundamentally rooted in conflicted human consciousness. It would be very unusual to come across legal scholarship that squarely recognizes that no legal or societal structure will resolve the actual problem of conflict. Acharya narrates how coming to this understanding resulted in her scholarly focus on conflict resolution mechanisms that may enable deeper transformation of the individual, their personal and social relations, and thereby society. She outlines her future goal of more deeply theorizing mediation (third-party facilitated conflict resolution) through the lens of meditative inquiry. 
In-person Celebratory Cultural Evening and Reception, Aug 18, 6:30 - 8:00pm.

Dr. Acharya will play violin at the live in-person cultural evening on Aug 18th. She will accompany Dr. Kumar and Dr. Kulkarni.

Vikas Baniwal is currently serving in capacity of Assistant Professor at the Department of Education, University of Delhi. He has been General Fellow for his post-doctoral work at the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (I.C.P.R.). He completed his doctoral studies from University of Delhi in Education in 2015. Overall, he has about 12 years of experience in school teaching, higher education, research, and administration. He has many publications to his credit and his key research interests include inter-subjectivity, dialogue, inclusion, mental health, self and identity.

Book Contributors’ Panel 2, Dialogue and Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 10:30am - 12:00pm.

Ruminations on Dialogue as a Form of Meditative Inquiry. This presentation explores how one might engage dialogically and meditatively in one’s academic endeavours. In the form of an autobiographical reflective journey, Baniwal draws parallels between Kumar’s and the presenter’s experiences and concerns, which has helped him understand the interface between meditative inquiry and dialogue. This journey is not just about arriving at the idea of dialogue as a research area, rather, it is about a quest to live dialogically. An important aspect of this journey has been the continuity in Baniwal’s experiences as a student, scholar, and teacher educator of finding space for dialogue in mainstream teacher education institutions. With these reflections, he tries to highlight the demand of holism that the idea of dialogue has from its practitioner. The presentation is divided into six sections. It first outlines the Baniwal’s experiences and views that led him to the idea of dialogue. Next, drawing upon some key ideas of Krishnamurti and Buber, and presenting them through Kumar’s framework of meditative inquiry, Baniwal presents some reflections on the prevalent curricular ethos. Building it further, he discusses the nature of dialogical research. This is followed by a discussion of some key aspects of classroom interactions that may lead to dialogical teaching. Finally, some concluding comments regarding the dialogical and meditative approach to education will be presented. 

Alexandra (Ali) Barclay is a doctoral student at Mount Saint Vincent University as well as a public-school teacher. Originally from Montreal, she teaches French Immersion, IB French and Yoga for South Shore Regional Centre for Education on the beautiful south shore of Nova Scotia. As a nature lover and philosophy admirer, she has always found inspiration in yogic and Buddhist philosophies and practices. In fact, her first volunteer teaching experience was in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1995 which allowed her to adventure into the wilderness of the Himalayas. Intrigued by the interplay of meditation and curriculum design, she tries to incorporate inquiry and dialogue in her classes as well as eco-literacy to engage students in exploring the problems facing the planet.  @MissAliBee

Holistic Teachers' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 4:00 - 5:30pm.

Holistic Teaching with a French Twist. This presentation explores a public-school teacher's journey into curiosity and creativity in the secondary school setting. The personal and professional path of the educator are related to her world views in education as she poses questions about her own self-awareness and actualization, as well as contemplating how to increase her students’ self-awareness and actualization. Discussing courses such as French language arts, IB, and yoga, the teacher explores the value of dialogue and inquiry in the classroom. The teacher contemplates meditative inquiry, as proposed and discussed by Ashwani Kumar and contributing authors of Engaging in Meditative Inquiry for Teaching, Learning, and Research. Using curiosity and investigation as a guide, the teacher considers the importance of critical self-reflection and dialogue, as well as the impact of meditative inquiry, self-actualization, and social change through teaching, learning, and research.

Sobaz Benjamin, Founder and Executive Director of In My Own Voice (iMOVe) Arts Association, is a film-director, as well as social entrepreneur, community worker, advocate, mentor, program facilitator and educator. In 2009, he partnered with the Nova Scotia Justice Department to deliver his Life Story course, the (Kintsugi Monologues: KM), at the Nova Scotia Youth Facility, and in 2016 at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, and again at the Federal institutions of Springhill and the Atlantic Institution located in the community of Renous in New Brunswick. The KM has also been delivered at The Nova Scotia Community College. He was honored in 2014 by the Provincial Justice Department with a Minister’s Award for Individual Leadership in Crime Prevention. He has delivered workshops, lectures, and seminars presentations, and taught at a number of public schools and postsecondary institutions, as well as facilitating community-based projects around and beyond the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). Sobaz has also received a Humans Rights Award for his work with youth, a Multicultural Award in education, and film directing awards from the National Film Board of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television.

In-person Celebratory Cultural Evening and Reception, Aug 18, 6:30 - 8:00pm.

Sobaz Benjamin will be offering an African Drumming performance

Susan M. Brigham, PhD is Full Professor in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU). Susan’s research interests include adult and higher education, immigration, diversity, and gender. Susan has conducted research and presented her work in North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Her co-edited books include Adult Education and Learning in Canada: Critical Legacies (2021), Building on Critical Traditions: Adult Education and Learning in Canada (2013), and  Africentricity in Action (2012). She is associate editor with the Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education and the Alberta Journal of Educational Research (AJER). She is a board member of the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute (DBDLI), which is committed to excellence in Africentric education and research, and past president of the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (2019–20).

Book Contributors' Panel 3, Diverse Cultural Perspectives and Meditative Inquiry, Aug 17, 1:00 - 2:20pm.
Exploring the Connections Between Africentric Principles and Meditative Inquiry; Understanding Their Significance for Teaching and Learning in Adult Education Contexts. 
In this presentation, I examine the significance of holistic principles and practices of teaching and learning in the context of adult education. First, I look for points of coherence and points of extension between Africentricity and the meditative inquiry-based approach and conceptualize how these two perspectives together may inform the field of adult education. I underscore how Africentric principles and ideals, including spirituality, provide grounding to educational aims and pedagogical processes and the ways in which Africentric principles are closely connected to Kumar’s meditative inquiry approach. Second, I provide examples of pedagogical efforts that aim to awaken in students and teachers a sense of compassion, empathy, connectivity, creativity, open-mindedness, and cooperation. This leads to my conclusion that these two approaches are complementary and can help us transform adult education. 

 
Antony Card joined the Mount Saint Vincent University community as the Dean of Education in September, 2018. He came to the Mount from Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he served as Associate Vice-President Research at the Grenfell campus, and Director and Dean of the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at the St. John’s campus. As well, he has taught both Teacher Education students and graduate students at Memorial. Antony’s areas of teaching and research interests include pre-service and teacher education focused on health and physical education, and health promoting schools. His research projects have focused on children and youth in Newfoundland and Labrador, and engaging policy makers, practitioners, and researchers in jointly setting priorities for youth health in schools across Canada, such as with the development of Core Indicators and Measures of Physical Activity. Email:  Antony.Card@msvu.ca  

Opening Remarks, Aug. 16, 9:00 - 9:20am

Closing Remarks, Aug. 18, 2:35 - 3:15pm. 
Antony Card will offer opening and closing remarks at the conference.
Laurie Cook has been a community development practitioner for over 20 years.  She started as a community volunteer, got a Masters degree in Adult Education specializing in Community Development through St. Francis Xavier University, and is now exploring how Meditative Inquiry could enhance work in this field as part of her PhD studies through the Nova Scotia Inter-University Educational Studies program.  Through her own company Chutzpah Consulting and as part of a community development consulting co-operative called Flourish, Laurie is currently working on several research projects designed to enhance inclusive economic development for people who have been and continue to be marginalized and racialized.  She also lives with a mental illness called bipolar disorder, and her lived experience in this context informs much of her work.
Practitioners' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug 18, 1:00 - 2:30pm.
We Know What We're Against, But What Are We For?  Meditative Inquiry in Practice in Community. In her presentation, Community Development practitioner and Educational Studies Ph.D. Student Laurie Cook will speak about how Kumar's work on meditative inquiry in general and the meditative inquiry collection—the focus of this conference—could inform community development work and practice. In particular, she will look at how meditative inquiry might be able to inform the research she is doing related to inclusive economic development for marginalized and racialized people and communities as part of a project funded by the Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship program. The organization Laurie will be working with for the next three years as part of the Mitacs program, and speaking about, is In My Own Voice (iMOVe) Arts Association. iMOVe uses cultural production to help people of African descent who have been incarcerated to re-integrate into the community. 
Michael Corbett is Professor of Education at Acadia University. He has studied rural youth educational decision-making, mobilities and education in rural contexts. While Corbett’s work is principally focused in Canada, he has also worked internationally and served as Professor of Rural and Regional Education at the University of Tasmania from 2015–18.
Keynote Panel 1, The Contributions of Meditative Inquiry to the Field of Education, Aug 16, 10:30am - 12:00pm
Educational Research Methodology and Meditative Inquiry: Three Meditations. 
In this presentation, Michael Corbett contemplates this collection of work on the subject of meditative inquiry. He asks the listener to think philosophically and spiritually about our relationship with the self, the world, and educational research with a qualitative lens. He explores the concept of meditative inquiry as a process that involves questioning the self-other dyad and, instead, applying a more humanist approach in this evolving and non-binary world. While scientific inquiry has played an important role in our collective history, human issues and our sometimes divisive understandings of the world continue to shape and hold the cultural landscape. Corbett suggests that meditative inquiry, as a non-linear educational approach, may help us to better understand the human context through the asking of very human questions.

Michael Cosgrove teaches English and Philosophy in high school, where he continues to find ways to incorporate the pedagogical style embedded in the educational philosophy of Krishnamurti. He received a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia, and Masters’ in Education in both Educational Foundations and Curriculum Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University. He has written a book titled Salt of the Turf (2017) and is a regular contributor to Halifax Magazine. Michael resides in Dartmouth, NS with his wife and two daughters.

Book Contributors’ Panel 2, Dialogue and Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm.
On the Significance of Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, and Living: A Dialogue Between Two Teachers (with Shannon Power). In this conversational presentation, Nova Scotia-based teachers Michael Cosgrove and Shannon Power engage in an open-ended dialogue on the meaning and significance of the meditative inquiry approach to teaching, learning, and living. Drawing on their life experiences in and outside of the classroom, Michael and Shannon engage in open-ended conversation discussing how meditative inquiry has influenced their thinking and approach. They discuss the benefits of a meditative approach as they have experienced it both as learners and teachers; the challenges and opportunities associated with the approach, and how it has influenced their classroom teaching and lives outside of the classroom. Their dialogue articulates the value of meditative inquiry as they have experienced it, showing the power in reflecting on one’s own thoughts, experiences, values, and behaviours when it comes to connecting to other people and learning about ourselves and our place in the world. 
Kent den Heyer works the lonely intersection of history and social studies education, curriculum theory, and the educational implications of Alain Badiou's anti-philosophy. Committed to psychoanalytical approaches to anti-racist education, his scholarship appears in international journals, handbooks, and in Canada’s nationally distributed newspapers. Den Heyer taught a range of subjects and grades in Canada, Japan, Taiwan and Colombia and prospective social studies teachers in Canada and the United States. He currently professes in the Dept. of Secondary Education, University of Alberta and is currently the only known Professor inducted into a sport ‘Hall of Fame’ (Nova Scotia, 2005). 
Keynote Panel 1, The Contributions of Meditative Inquiry to the Field of Education, Aug 16, 10:30am - 12:00pm.
On Becoming Subjects to Our Learning and Lives. 
This presentation examines what I read as key themes that animate the edited collection, Engaging with Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, and Research: Realizing Transformative Potentials in Diverse Contexts. Authors throughout broaden insight into a range of current philosophical and practical educational issues. As I explore connecting to other bodies of scholarship, of central interest is a kind of education attentive to not only learning subjects but becoming a subject of our learning and lives.
Balaganapathi Devarakonda is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delhi, Delhi, India. He is presently with the Univesity of West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica as ICCR Chair for Indology. His research interests are in the areas of Indian Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Practice. In addition to teaching and research, Prof. Bala is a Certified Philosophical Counselor by American Philosophy Practitioners Association, New York. The details of his publications and projects can be accessed at www.balaganapathid.com
 
Keynote Panel 2, Interdisciplinary Exploration of Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 18, 10:30 - 11:50am.

Exploring the Focus of Human Action: A Space that Conflates Meditative Inquiry and Philosophical Counselling. Any action, whether oriented towards learning or knowing, exploring, understanding, or problem-solving, requires a particular kind of focus to be successful. The importance of this focus has been identified by humans since the early times of explorations into the knowledge of action. The nature of this focus has been articulated and re-articulated throughout human history across cultures.

I perceive meditative inquiry, which is the focus of the work being discussed, and philosophical counselling, which is gaining prominence as a helpful tool for resolving varied kinds of ambivalences concerning human actions, to be conflated in addressing the concerns of this focus. This focus is the space where binaries interact, the dialogue originates, and both decision and performance of action get articulated. In my presentation, I explore this space by bringing meditative inquiry and philosophical counselling together through reading the work Engaging with Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning and Research. I will use classical Indian concepts during the discussion to explore the nature of the focus of learning.

Adrian M. Downey is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University. He holds undergraduate degrees from Bishop’s University, a master’s degree from Mount Saint Vincent University, and a PhD from the University of New Brunswick. His research generally

focuses on curriculum theory, poetic inquiry, spirituality, social justice, anti-racist pedagogy, and Indigenous education.

Book Contributors' Panel 1, Reflection, Contemplation, and Meditative Inquiry, Aug 17, 9:00 - 10:20am.

Mindset and Meditative Inquiry. This presentation discusses Carol Dweck’s work on growth and fixed mindset and offers a conceptual critique of both mindsets’ limitedness from a holistic perspective. Toward this critique, Downey draws on Ashwani Kumar’s writing on meditative inquiry. Kumar’s writing is based on the premise that our external conflicts result from our fractured, internal psychological states. Whereas growth mindset posits that we should constantly be striving toward something, Kumar’s writing asserts that striving toward a goal will only result in more internal conflict. Growth, for Kumar, is only desirable in as much as it does not interfere with one’s self-understanding. Through holding Dweck’s work in conversation with Kumar’s, new insights into both perspectives emerge. Downey concludes with a discussion of the implications of meditative inquiry and growth mindset for teachers and students, ultimately encouraging both groups to ask serious questions and give themselves time to answer them. 

Dawn Erley is a new educator in Kjipuktuk (Halifax). As a settler, continuously learning on these lands, I am interested in and compelled to deploy a teaching methodology that seeks to subvert the imperialist white supremacist heteropatriarchy, aptly termed by bell hooks. Since taking a course with Ashwani Kumar, I have additionally become deeply fascinated by dialogical meditative inquiry and its power to help individuals become more aware and engaged within themselves and with the world.
Holistic Teachers' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug 17, 4:00 - 5:30pm.
Dialogical Meditative Inquiry in the English Classroom. This presentation will focus on personal and professional reflections on dialogical meditative inquiry in the English classroom. The central questions it will explore are: how can English teachers reconcile with the colonial roots of their subject area, and how can they subvert lingering colonial expectations in the present? English Literature, as a field of study, has deeply problematic beginnings. Current English educators must know and understand these origins to work towards a decolonized education system. In essence: for meaningful practice, there must be a dialogue between the past and present. This presentation primarily draws inspiration from the works of Ashwani Kumar, Thomas Macaulay, Gauri Viswanathan, Bill Ashcroft, and Edward Said, who have all engaged me in profound, transformative inner dialogues and informed the kind of person and educator I want to be.  
Alexandra Fidyk, poet, philosopher, and professor, serves the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta. Her transdisciplinary research engages with youth and teachers on issues of wellbeing, mental health, and soul-voice using somasensorial, contemplative, relational, and creative processes. Her scholarship integrates Buddhist thought, hermeneutics, poetic inquiry, and life writing to explore questions central to loving, suffering, and living well—including her early research on Silence and a Pedagogy of Presence. Her registered Jungian and somatic psychotherapy credentials in addition to trauma-specializations, lead to the program and course development of a graduate certificate: Trauma-Sensitive Pedagogy in Educational Studies. Contact: fidyk@ualberta.ca
Holistic and Contemplative Education Scholars' Panel, Aug 16, 3:50 - 5:20pm.
Silence as Generative Process & Practice. In response to Ashwani Kumar’s edited collection and research on Meditative Inquiry, Alexandra Fidyk highlights aspects from his research—and other contributors to the collection—that she deems critical for these times, in particular, the impact of COVID-19 and our unrecognized trauma epidemic. She further points to intersections with her own research on Silence, Pedagogy of Presence, and poetic consciousness (2006; 2008; 2009; 2013; 2019). Speaking from and to animated paradigms, she troubles ontological positions which continue to ignore our always already transrelational becoming with place, naturecultures, and others. Understanding Silence as a primordial encounter with life reaching multidimensionally to our ancestors, their descendants, emergent images, place, and death, she offers commentary on the critical place that silence has in transforming relations and ethics.
R. Michael Fisher, PhD, is an artist, independent scholar-educator, and fearologist. He is director of the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute and an author of many articles and books on transformation and liberation. He is founder and senior editor of the International Journal of Fear Studies and has written an intellectual biography of Four Arrows’ and the Indigenous worldview and its relevance to education and beyond. He currently lives on the W. coast of Canada with his partner Barbara A. Bickel.
Keynote Panel 2, Interdisciplinary Exploration of Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 18, 10:30 - 11:50am.
Meditative Mind(ing) a Fearlessness Worldview Through Dialogue: 
It Won’t Be Easy. The revival of dialogue and the dialogical relational ways of knowing are well documented, from Buber to Bohm to Krishnamurti and onward to Meditative Inquiry as another project and movement to counter fear-conditioning and its deleterious impacts on love, and freedom, and Life itself. The rainbow particularity of all the dialogical forms, methods and/or non-methods—well-worth celebrating—are also calling for us to consider some universalities as wisdom-based solutions to our troubled and unsustainable ways. A new (ancient) worldview is being accessed in Meditative Inquiry and the best of the dialogical forms. Fisher will present on the arising of the kincentric worldview and its branches (and dialogues, e.g., Four Arrows and Darcia Narvaez), and the re-making foundations for a true gift of fearlessness to complement Meditative Inquiry in higher education. The fear-based resistances are equally important to understand—in order for the gift to move and restore—as progressives need to bring the (r)evolution of consciousness into better harmony with eco- and social justice agendas in the 21st century.
Christina J. Flemming is a lifelong storyteller and PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism Degree from the University of King’s College and a Master of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing through Concordia University. As an arts-informed researcher, Christina explores diverse research methods such as poetry, art installation, film, and writing as inquiry. She values research that honours the multidimensional ways in which individuals come to know and engage with the world.
Holistic and Contemplative Education Scholars' Panel, Aug 16, 3:50 - 5:20pm.

Arts & Letters: Meditative Inquiry as Invitation.
This presentation seeks to illuminate the connections between writing as inquiry and meditative inquiry. The author explores how she came to view her arts-informed autoethnographic practice of letter writing as a form of meditative inquiry. First, the author journeys through intersections between art and meditative inquiry, observing how artmaking and meditative inquiry are both creative and emancipatory in nature. Next, through the inclusion of one of her research letters, Flemming aims to demonstrate the ways in which both forms of inquiry allow for an intuitive movement from fear of the unknown toward acceptance, and even excitement about, what remains inexplicable in one’s life and learning. 

Paul Freedman is the Coordinating Editor of The Holistic Education Review, an Open Access peer review journal. He is the Founding Head of the Salmonberry School on 
Orcas Island, WA, where he continues to serve, and where he taught for many years. Paul is on the faulty of The Institute for Educational Studies (TIES). Paul served as President of the Graduate Institute for Transformative Learning, was a Contributing Editor for Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, and is the Co-director of the Holistic Education Initiative. Paul has presented papers and workshops at many conferences. His TEDx Talk is on “Deep Education,” and can be found on YouTube.
Journal Editors' Panel, Meditative Inquiry and Holistic and Alternative Education Theories and Practices, Aug 16, 2:10 - 3:40pm.

Meditative Inquiry and Holistic Education: Resonant Practices (presenting with Laurel Tien). As holistic educators it is essential for our research methods to align with our core beliefs and worldview. A landscape of qualitative methodologies that elevate the wholeness of subjects, honor the relationships, and allow researchers to bring their interiority and subjectivity into the work are very much needed. We too often encounter scholars writing about holistic education rather than embodying the practice as an integral part of their research.
As two of the four co-editors of the Holistic Education Review (HER), we strive to enhance and broaden the scholarship of holistic education, lift up diverse and emerging voices of holistic education practice and connect the holistic education community. HER is an open-source online journal, offering articles from holistic community practitioners blended with peer-reviewed articles.

Jacqueline Gahagan PhD (Medical Sociology) is a Credentialed Evaluator (CES), a Full Professor and Associate Vice-President of Research at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) in Halifax Nova Scotia. Prior to joining MSVU Jacquie was a Full Professor of Health Promotion in the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University where they taught community health promotion, program planning, and measurement and evaluation. Jacquie is a founding member and serves as the Co-Director of the Atlantic Interdisciplinary Research Network for Social and Behavioural Aspects of HIV and HCV (airn.ca), is a Founding Fellow of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance, and is an Affiliate Scientist with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Prior to this, Jacquie held a variety of Research Scholar and Research Associate positions with the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence, the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the Health Law Institute, the Healthy Populations Institute, the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, among others. Jacquie serves as a Scientific Officer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and an Institute Advisory Board member of the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health (CIHR-IGH).  

Opening Remarks, Aug. 16, 9:00 - 9:20am
Jacqueline Gahagan will offer opening remarks at the conference. 

Ashley Julian-Rikhana is a doctoral student in Educational Studies at Acadia University, completing her first year as part of the Inter-University Doctoral Program. Ashley is a Mi’kmaw community member from the Sipekne’katik (See-Bay-Kineh-kah-deek) First Nation Band, Indian Brook 14, Nova Scotia.  

Ashley provides a Mi’kmaw lens to the shared responsibility of equity and inclusion in education, is a Treaty Education Speakers Bureau representative and Mi’kmaw cultural and language ambassador. Ashley's dissertation research is supported by an Atlantic Indigenous Research Mentorship Network for accessing linguistic educational approaches for language and cultural resurgence, revitalization, and reclamation efforts. This summer, Ashley project is being done in partnership with the Mental Health Research Centre (MHRC). She will be focusing on Mi'kmaq language revitalization as a tool for community mental health and well-being. Ashley will be looking at language loss in the community and how linguistic teaching tools will be produced by participants (parents/guardians) in helping develop their own motivations to learn the Mi'kmaw language. 

In-person Celebratory Cultural Evening and Reception, Aug 18, 6:30 - 8:00pm.
Ashley Julian-Rikhana will be sharing her gratitude with us through playing the Native American Flute at the in-person celebratory event on the evening of August 18th.
Mohamed Kharbach is a doctoral candidate in Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) in Halifax. His doctoral research centres on the discursive construction of identity in ISIS textbooks using critical discourse analysis. His immediate areas of research include critical discourse analysis, curriculum studies, and identity studies. His research interests also include critical pedagogy, critical race theory, visual research methodologies, and emerging literacies. His recent publication is a journal article titled “Understanding the Ideological Construction of the Gulf Crisis in Arab Media Discourse:  A Critical Discourse Analysis of Al Arabiya English News Headlines”, published in the journal Discourse & Communication.
Book Contributors’ Panel 4, Structure, Consciousness, and Change, Aug 17, 2:30 - 3:50pm.
Meditative Inquiry and Critical Discourse Analysis: A Hybrid Approach for Doing Educational Research. In this presentation, I argue that a cross-fertilization of meditative inquiry and critical discourse analysis (CDA) has the potential to unwrap unexplored possibilities for conducting socially and politically engaged research in education and beyond. As such, guided by insights from my own intellectual engagement with CDA, I particularly focus on how a ‘CDA-based meditative inquiry’ can help us develop a heightened sense of language awareness, one that is key to understanding how the language we use in our classrooms, research and everyday life can contribute to the (re-) production, maintenance, and legitimation of relations of social inequalities. 

Angie Kolen is a highly interactive Professor in Human Kinetics currently on sabbatical leave following three years as the inaugural Coordinator of St. Francis Xavier University’s Teaching & Learning Centre. Angie’s passion for teaching is obvious in her classes where she engages with her students in service learning promoting physical activity to children. This passion for teaching was also evident in the direction she took with the Teaching & Learning Centre working with students and professors related to culturally relevant pedagogies and coordinating spring and fall week-long teaching retreats focused on decolonization, Black students matter, diversity, and inclusion.

Panel on Meditative Inquiry and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Aug 18, 9:00 - 10:20am (with Leigh-Ann Macfarlane, Suzanne Le-May Sheffield, & Gavan Watson)

Our panel will explore connections and key questions that highlight the application and value of meditative inquiry in higher education. We will draw on our professional experiences teaching in a variety of disciplines and working in Teaching and Learning Centres to discuss the following questions with conference attendees:

  • How does meditative inquiry connect to professional work and personal development in higher education?

  • How does meditative inquiry inform classroom practice?

  • How can meditative inquiry support teaching development?

  • How do we balance the aspirations of meditative inquiry with the reality of western higher education systems?

 We invite attendees’ questions and interactive discussions with us.

Dr. Ketan Kulkarni is a physician, a clinician-researcher, a passionate entrepreneur, a life coach, an author, an avid learner, a traveler, a photographer, an artist (and art enthusiast and antique collector) and a music buff. He lives in Halifax, Canada.

While he has a very productive academic and research career, he pursues several hobbies to enrich his lived experience, develop meaningful connections, and enhance his purpose and contribution. 

He has had a keen interest in music, in particular Indian Classical, since childhood. Several members of his family have been active in fine arts and music. He studied tabla (percussion instrument) for over a decade and enjoys playing both accompaniment and solo.

In-person Celebratory Cultural Evening and Reception, Aug 18, 6:30 - 8:00pm.

Dr. Kulkarni will play tabla at the live in-person cultural evening on Aug 18th. He will accompany Dr. Kumar and Dr. Acharya.

Ashwani Kumar is an Associate Professor of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University (Halifax, Canada). His teaching and research focus on meditative inquiry, which is a self-reflective and aesthetic approach to teaching, learning, researching, creating, and living. He has conceptualized several key curricular and pedagogical concepts, namely, curriculum as meditative inquiry, teaching as meditative inquiry, and music as meditative inquiry. He has also developed a contemplative research methodology called dialogical meditative inquiry to conduct subjective and inter-subjective qualitative research. He is the author of two scholarly books: Curriculum as Meditative Inquiry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Curriculum in International Contexts: Understanding Colonial, Ideological, and Neoliberal Influences (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). He is also the editor of Engaging with Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, and Research: Realizing Transformative Potentials in Diverse Contexts (Routledge, 2022). He has served as the President of the Arts Researchers and Teachers Society, Canada. His book Curriculum as Meditative Inquiry was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Reviews in 2015. His co-authored paper, “Teaching as Meditative Inquiry: A Dialogical Exploration”, which describes his pedagogical philosophy and practice, received the Outstanding Publication in Curriculum Studies Award from The Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies in 2019. He is also the recipient of the Mount Saint Vincent University President and Vice President’s Advanced Career Teaching Award 2022 and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Education's Alumni Educator of the Year Award 2022. 

 Introducing Meditative Inquiry and the Edited Collection, Aug. 16, 9:20 - 10:20am. In this presentation, Ashwani Kumar will introduce the concept and practice of Meditative Inquiry—a holistic approach to teaching, learning, researching, creating, and living—and discuss the thought and process that guided the development of the edited collection, Engaging with Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, and Research: Realizing Transformative Potentials in Diverse Contexts. This collection of multi/inter-disciplinary essays explores the transformative potential of meditative inquiry in diverse contexts and is the focus of this conference. Kumar will explain how the book came about, discuss the contributing authors and chapters, and give an overview of how the diverse and rich contributions contained in it offer valuable perspectives and practices for scholars, students, and educators interested in exploring and adopting the principles of meditative inquiry in their own specific fields and contexts. He will also give participants an idea of what to expect from the conference as a whole. 

A Conversation on Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 16, 1:00 - 2:00 pmWilliam Pinar and Ashwani Kumar will be engaging in dialogue on the book.

Dr. Helen E Lees is an independent scholar of alternative education and therapeutic modalities involving the interface of reflective and meditative practices with education as personal journey. She is founding editor (and now co-editor with Gina Riley) of Other Education - the Journal of Alternative Education  www.othereducation.org).  She lives in Italy, working internationally. Her latest book is Playing the University Game - the Art of University Based Self Education (Bloomsbury, August, 2022). www.helenelees.com
Journal Editors' Panel, Meditative Inquiry and Holistic and Alternative Education Theories and Practices, Aug 16, 2:10 - 3:40pm.
A Talent for Meditative Inquiry Through Alternative Education Concepts? 
Seeking answers is something education purports to help people to do. However, if education—and its curricula—provides all the answers, what then occurs? Do people become deskilled in their inquiries? Ready to just accept what is given and never wonder or search? It is the philosophy of the online open access journal Other Education http://www.othereducation.org to aid children and adults with meditative inquiry, by introducing us to and developing the concepts of alternative education. Such education is of a kind which fosters talent to seek and ask. It is an education enabling individual (therefore best and best functioning) answers, through forms of freedom to be and know. In my presentation I discuss what a talent for meditative inquiry is when it meets education and curricula. I suggest the key to such talent and successful inquiry is connection with specific concepts that Other Education has as its core scholarly focus.
Lindsay Leighton. Hello everyone, my name is Lindsay. I have mixed Indigenous-settler ancestry and currently live in Pesikitk. I describe myself as an indigenous scientist and currently teach in the School Psychology program at MSVU. My background is in cognitive science, and my scholarly work is centered around healthy development of marginalized students in community and at school. My private practice work aims to offer community-based, barrier-reduced psychological and educational services. With an expressed commitment to providing respectful care that acknowledges individual identities, I strive to help people feel safe and included in a trusting relationship with open communication. Wela’lioq.
Practitioners' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug 18, 1:00 - 2:30pm.
Awareness, Inquiry, and Love through Science. 
During the panel presentation Lindsay will discuss how she has incorporated meditative inquiry into personal, psychological, and pedagogical practices. With a background in cognitive science, Lindsay will also explain the alignment she sees between meditative inquiry and evidence-based practices, highlighting how one’s knowledge and awareness can actually be enhanced through the promotion of these seemingly contradictory perspectives. As a psychologist experienced in working with diverse and vulnerable populations, Lindsay recognizes the importance of meditative inquiry in understanding ourselves in relation to each other ethically and compassionately, noting how self-awareness and cognition develop in the context of social interactions. 
Laura Leslie worked as a classroom teacher for 17 years in the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, but has recently shifted to the role of school counselor. Laura also teaches courses part-time in the School of Education at Acadia University. Her study of meditative inquiry began as a PhD student, in one of Ashwani Kumar’s courses on Contemporary Educational Theory. Laura has since completed her PhD in educational studies with a focus on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy. In addition to trauma, her research interests include teachers’ classroom experiences and wellbeing, and social justice education. She lives in Halifax with her husband and two children.
Book Contributors’ Panel 2, Dialogue and Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 10:30am to 12:00pmExplorations of Trauma through Meditative Inquiry (with Rajean Willis). In this presentation, we engage in self-reflection and dialogue with each other regarding our experiences with meditative inquiry, a new educational approach introduced to us by Ashwani Kumar in the Doctoral Seminar in Contemporary Educational Theory. In this chapter, we will reflect on what we believe are the transformative aspects of meditative inquiry for us as budding scholars. More specifically, we will contemplate meditative inquiry as a means for enhancing our understanding of our research interests in trauma. We will explore how meditative inquiry can help us a) expand our understanding of trauma including cultural and intergenerational trauma; b) as an option for pursuing work in social justice from the inside out; and c) challenge mainstream ideas and definitions of trauma. The co-presenters conclude that meditative inquiry, with its emphasis on self-exploration, critical reflection, and collegial dialogue, can play an important role in understanding and healing trauma.   
Leigh-Ann MacFarlane is an Educational Developer in the Teaching and Learning Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University. She has a BSc in Biology, a PhD in Physiology and Biophysics, and a Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning. She brings to her work 15 years of university teaching experience at Saint Mary’s University, Dalhousie University, and Mount Saint Vincent University. She sits on a number of provincial and regional teaching and learning committees and is the past-chair of the Association of Atlantic Universities Faculty Development Committee. Leigh-Ann has a personal and professional interest in reflective practice and has offered faculty workshops and conference presentations on this topic.
Panel on Meditative Inquiry and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Aug 18, 9:00 - 10:20am (with Angie Kolen, Suzanne Le-May Sheffield, & Gavan Watson).

Our panel will explore connections and key questions that highlight the application and value of meditative inquiry in higher education. We will draw on our professional experiences teaching in a variety of disciplines and working in Teaching and Learning Centres to discuss the following questions with conference attendees:

  • How does meditative inquiry connect to professional work and personal development in higher education?

  • How does meditative inquiry inform classroom practice?

  • How can meditative inquiry support teaching development?

  • How do we balance the aspirations of meditative inquiry with the reality of western higher education systems?

 We invite attendees’ questions and interactive discussions with us.

Scott MacMillan is originally from Fredericton, N.B. where he completed a Bachelor of Physical Education degree at UNB. He then worked for the YMCA for twenty years in various management, research, and consulting positions (Fredericton, Regina, Halifax, Toronto, and Jerusalem). After deciding it was time for a career change he returned to school for his Master of Business Administration and Ph.D. in Management at Saint Mary’s University. He also completed a Certificate in Adult Education and is a certified career counselor. He began teaching management courses in 2001 and has taught at a variety of universities including Saint Mary’s, Dalhousie, Acadia, and Cape Breton before coming to MSVU. He has also taught in China (Zuhai in 2008, Suzhou in 2012, and Fuzhou in 2014). He conducts research on meaning in work, career development, leadership, and management education. His Ph.D. thesis was entitled, Towards an Existential Approach to the Meaning of Work. He is the author of The Big Game: 10 Strategies for Winning at Life (Llewellyn, 2003).
Closing Remarks, Aug. 18, 2:35 - 3:15pm.
Scott MacMillan will offer closing remarks at the conference. 
Christopher T. McCaw is Lecturer in Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Australia. His research and thinking inquires into the nature of teaching and teacher professionalism, the purposes of education, post-secularism in education, and questions of self, identity, and agency. He has a specific interest in the integration of contemplative practices, such as mindfulness and yoga, into educational discourses and practices. Christopher also has a background working as a classroom teacher in secondary schools, specializing in inquiry learning in the sciences, humanities, and philosophy.
Book Contributors’ Panel 1: Reflection, Contemplation, and Meditative Inquiry, Aug 17, 3:50 - 5:20pm.
Meditative Inquiry in Dialogue with Heideggerian, Deweyan, and Buddhist Praxis (with John Quay). The project of curriculum as meditative inquiry brings with it a variety of philosophical challenges, in part because it requires venturing into territory not often encountered in conventional, method-centric considerations of education. Specifically, it provokes educational thinkers to look beyond images of teachers’ work as a form of reflective practice, and to explore contemplation, meditation and awareness as foundational dimensions of transformative teaching. This presentation brings the work of Kumar, specifically as it is grounded in Krishnamurti’s thought, into dialogue with Heideggerian, Deweyan, and Buddhist praxis. By doing this, we aim to address several key challenges. The first of these challenges is that of clearly conceptualising the state of awareness grounding meditative inquiry, which we formulate as non-dualistic aesthetic experience held in a non-grasping embrace. The second challenge relates to the ‘how?’: the question of the tools and practices available to educators to embark on meditative inquiry. Finally, the idea of pure observation, offered as a foundation for meditative inquiry, is examined from the perspective of hermeneutics. We argue that this perspective helps articulate the horizons of the implications of meditative inquiry for teaching, learning and living. 
Stephanie McDonald, BN, M.A.Ed., first worked as a registered nurse on an adult in-patient-psychiatric unit, and then as a community mental health therapist with the provincial health authority. Currently, she is a full-time student in the Interuniversity Doctoral Program and St. Francis Xavier University is her home institution. Her areas of personal, professional, and academic interest include Franklian existentialism (based on the life and work of Viktor E. Frankl), spirituality, mental health, and lifelong learning. Stephanie’s doctoral research aims to better understand how dual role paramedic-firefighter professional identity impacts their mental health and influences their lifelong learning choices.
 
Practitioners' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug 18, 1:00 - 2:30pm.
How Might Dialogical Meditative Inquiry Inform the Practice of an Existentially Minded Community Mental Health Therapist? 
As sentient beings, we are always in flux between the human being we are, and the one we might become. Therapy involves many of the elements also found in meditative inquiry such as reflection, self-inquiry, curiosity, questioning the status-quo/authority, and the courage to be vulnerable in self-exploration. Meditative inquiry’s emphasis on responsibility, meaning-making, and human connection offers another avenue for therapists to assist clients in their ongoing existential becoming. From my clinical practice as a registered nurse and community mental health therapist, I aim to share how meditative inquiry offers health care practitioners another way of approaching their patients and clients holistically and in doing so, recognizing the sacredness of their existential being.
Lisa R. Merriweather is a Professor of Adult Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a PhD in adult education from the University of Georgia, co-founder and co-editor of Dialogues in Social Justice: An Adult Education Journal, and aspiring writer of historical science fiction centering issues of 
race and racism.  Employing the art of story and dialogic engagement, complete with creativity and innovativeness, emotionality and theorizing, and historical and contemporary cultural and political critique informed by Africana Philosophy and Critical Race Theory, Lisa invites readers and interlocutors 
to a space of reflection through (re)presenting and (re)languaging racialized experiences. Her research interests include culturally liberative mentoring, critical race pedagogy, STEM doctoral mentoring, and race and racism in non/informal adult education. 
Keynote Panel 1, The Contributions of Meditative Inquiry to the Field of Education, Aug 16, 10:30am - 12:00pm.

Someone please call 911: Meditative inquiry, Àṣẹ, and spirit murdering. Spirit murder was coined by Patricia Williams to capture racism's impact: the multidimensional violence resulting in not just pain for racially minoritized people but also dehumanization, robbing, killing, and murdering the spirits of racialized others.  Spirit murder is continuous, systemic, and accepted in white space due to the endemic nature of racism, anti-Black racism, and white supremacist ideology and practices. As both a personal and communal practice, meditative inquiry can be restorative and healing for racially minoritized people by serving as a vehicle for Àṣẹ, the power to manifest change, change that is self-determining and self affirming for individuals and community.

John (Jack) Miller has been working in the field of holistic education for over 40 years.  He is author/editor of more than 20 books on holistic learning and contemplative practices in education which include The Contemplative Practitioner: Meditation in Education and the Workplace, Love and Compassion: Exploring Their Role in Education, and his memoir, A Holistic Educator’s Journey. His writing has been translated into eight languages. The Holistic Curriculum has inspired the programs in four different schools including the Equinox Holistic Alternative School in Toronto. Jack teaches courses on holistic education and contemplative education for graduate students at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto where he is professor.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_P._Miller_(educator) 
Keynote Panel 1, The Contributions of Meditative Inquiry to the Field of Education, Aug 16, 10:30am - 12:00pm.
Meditative Inquiry/ My Journey. My talk will begin with comments on the edited book and the diversity of contributors and their responses to the volume. My talk then explores how meditative inquiry has been part of my life's journey. It began with vipassana meditation in 1974. Also known as insight meditation, this is an inquiry into the mind/body experience.  Its goal is to develop clear awareness of what is going on in the mind and body.  This practice led to my work in holistic education, as both meditation and holistic education share these principles: being present, seeing interconnectedness, and developing wisdom. Most recently, my inquiry has led to Taoism which uses nature as a guide to living and healing the planet. Overall, Eastern thought and practices  have been my main source of meditative inquiry. 
Martin Morrison is a member of the African Nova Scotian communities of Danvers and Southville and is the proud father of six children and one grandchild. Martin is a two-time MSVU graduate who holds a Master of Education in Lifelong Learning with a focus on Africentricity and a Bachelor of Education. As a current PhD candidate at MSVU, Martin’s dissertation explores the themes and characteristics of teachers who have been identified as being culturally responsive to the needs of African Nova Scotian learners by representatives of the community. He is also the recipient of an Inter-University Research Network Grant to support his research.
Holistic and Contemplative Education Scholars' Panel, Aug 16, 3:50 - 5:20pm.
Exploring the Implications of Meditative Inquiry on Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy and the “African Nova Scotian Dream Keepers.” 
Culturally relevant and responsive pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning professional development supports are being provided to centres of education and schools across the province. This professional development training and support is being offered by representatives of the education system in response to school climate concerns and student performance gaps experienced by racialized and marginalized learners (Commission on Inclusive Education, 2018).

The central tenets of culturally responsiveness embodies using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to make learning more appropriate (Gay, 2010). Culturally relevant teaching and learning requires the presence of each of the following criteria: an ability to develop students academically, a willingness to nurture and support cultural competence, and development of sociopolitical or critical consciousness (Ladson-Billings, 1995). However, these interventions have not created a critical mass of educators capable of responding to the historical and ongoing negative student performance and school climate concerns experienced by African Nova Scotian learners (Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2021). This presentation will explore the potential of Meditative Inquiry as a transformative approach to the development of more culturally relevant and responsive teaching and learning.

Diane Obed is a mixed Inuk woman with white settler ancestry. She is a mother, writer, and community member originally from Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, Labrador, who currently lives, studies, and works in Mi’kma’ki, Nova Scotia. Diane is currently enrolled in a PhD program at Mount Saint Vincent University.
Book Contributors' Panel 3, Diverse Cultural Perspectives and Meditative Inquiry, Aug 17, 1:00 - 2:20pm.
Synergies Between Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Meditative Inquiry.
 In this presentation, Diane Obed draws intersections and similarities between Ashwani Kumar’s innovative theoretical and practical approaches of teaching and curriculum as meditative inquiry and her own scholarly work on decolonizing education and Inuit land-based knowledge in a Canadian context. Obed offers reflections from her journey toward decolonization and learning from fellow humans – Inuit and Indigenous peoples – and more-than-human beings, such as the lands, skies, waters, sentient beings. She believed that the Indigenous approaches to learning from nature and culture synergize naturally with the contemplative focus of meditative inquiry. At a time when mainstream education seeks to diversify and include global and local forms of knowledge, each of these approaches offer holistic and intuitive knowledges and practices for deeper, meaningful self-engagement. Obed trusts that a deepened and meditative engagement offers conditions conducive to self-inquiry and promote an enhanced human capacity for greater attunement to ourselves, one another, and the earth. 
William Pinar.  Born in Huntington, West Virginia in 1947, William Pinar took his B.S. in Education at The Ohio State University, graduating in 1969. He taught English at the Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, Long Island, New York from 1969-1971, returning to Ohio State to finish his M.A. in 1970 and the Ph.D. in 1972. He taught at the University of Rochester from 1972 until 1985, when he moved to Louisiana State University (LSU), where he taught until 2005, when he accepted a Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. After two terms as the Canada Research Chair in curriculum studies, in 2019 Pinar was named the Tetsuo Aoki Professor in curriculum studies.

Pinar has also served as the St. Bernard Parish Alumni Endowed Professor at LSU, the Frank Talbott Professor at the University of Virginia, and the A. Lindsay O’Connor Professor of American Institutions at Colgate University. He has lectured widely, including at Harvard University, McGill University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as the Universities of Chicago, Helsinski, Oslo, and Tokyo. The former President of the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and the founder of its U.S. affiliate, the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies, in 2000 Pinar received the LSU Distinguished Faculty Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Educational Research Association; in 2004 he received an American Educational Association Outstanding Book Award for What is Curriculum Theory?, the third edition of which was published in 2019 by Routledge.

A Conversation on Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 16, 1:00 - 2:00 pm.
William Pinar and Ashwani Kumar will be engaging in dialogue on the book on August 16th.
Adam Garry Podolski is an artist-teacher-editor-author-poet and pet lover. Adam has presented his poetry, art, and curriculum theory at The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and McGill University. He exhibits, publishes, and sells his work. At Quest Art School and Gallery, Adam is Director of Education and Audience Engagement. His doctoral dissertation Towards a Personal Philosophy of Curriculum: Approaching Currere and Narrative Inquiry within an Aokian Paradigm of Reciprocity was recognized as an original and unique contribution to the field of values and leadership in education, receiving runner-up for the Paul T. Begley Award.
 
Artist's Reflection on Illustrating Meditative Inquiry (presenting with Ashwani Kumar's Talk on Meditative Inquiry), Aug. 16, 9:20 - 10:20am.

Artmaking and Meditative Inquiry in the Spirit of Dialogical Collaboration. My illustrations live in the collection—within a meditative landscape that exists between my imagery, Ashwani Kumar's quotes, and the chapters in Engaging with Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, and Research: Realizing Transformative Potentials in Diverse Contexts. Ashwani and my dialogues together uncovered gifts, what I believe to be graceful forms, and gratitude found in the value of holistic educational experiences. By tuning into the transformative presence meditative inquiry offers teachers, artists, and curriculum theorists, we embrace a spirit of dialogical collaboration in artmaking and intellectual study. 

Meditative inquiry can be used to observe, animate, and experience creative energy. The nature and purpose of my images are to act as visual metaphors. By connecting meditative inquiry to my creative process, I translate academic and lived experiences into images, which I hope complement and embody meditative material to contemplate alongside Ashwani’s quotes from his writings on meditative inquiry and the contributing authors’ chapters in the book.

Shannon Power is a recent graduate of a bachelor’s degree in Education from Mount Saint Vincent University and a new teacher at the secondary level. She also works as a support worker with people experiencing homelessness in Halifax. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, music, and contributing to social justice initiatives in her community.
Book Contributors’ Panel 2, Dialogue and Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm.
On the Significance of Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, and Living: A Dialogue Between Two Teachers (with Michael Cosgrove). In this presentation, Nova Scotia-based teachers Michael Cosgrove and Shannon Power engage in an open-ended dialogue on the meaning and significance of the meditative inquiry approach to teaching, learning, and living. Drawing on their life experiences in and outside of the classroom, Michael and Shannon engage in open-ended conversation discussing how meditative inquiry has influenced their thinking and approach. They discuss the benefits of a meditative approach as they have experienced it both as learners and teachers; the challenges and opportunities associated with the approach, and how it has influenced their classroom teaching and lives outside of the classroom. Their dialogue articulates the value of meditative inquiry as they have experienced it, showing the power in reflecting on one’s own thoughts, experiences, values, and behaviours when it comes to connecting to other people and learning about ourselves and our place in the world. 
 
Carolyn Prest lives and teaches in rural Nova Scotia. The nature of rural education being what it is, she has gained experience teaching many subject areas at all grade levels, but her passions lie in the Visual Arts and in epistemological/metaphysical-related studies.  She was formally introduced to the concept of meditative inquiry as an educational practice during her Masters of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University while taking a course with Dr. Ashwani Kumar.  She is particularly interested in how individuals can find themselves through experiences with and in nature, and how these types of experiences can be integrated into mainstream public-school curricula. 
 

Holistic Teachers' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 4:00 - 5:30pm.

21 Pillars: Promoting Meditative Inquiry in the Public School Classroom. Each contributor to the book has positioned themselves as an ally to educators who are looking to move education—or at least their own small slice of the system—into a more holistic, engaging, and self-aware experience for their students. Carolyn Prest believes in meditative inquiry as a vehicle of change to the traditional concept of education, as well as a means for authentic growth and development of the individual. Her presentation will engage with the meditative inquiry collection in terms of how the contributors' work is relevant to the classroom teacher who is passionate about promoting meditative inquiry to their colleagues, students, and the system in which they interact.  While she approaches the idea of bringing about systemic change through meditative inquiry from a rural educator's lens, she maintains that meditative inquiry illuminates truth at a level that is universal to all who are interested and willing to engage, and, likewise, its application is relevant to educators from a broad range of experience.

John Quay is Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. His main research and teaching interests include philosophy of education, outdoor education, environmental education, physical education, and curriculum theory. John has published books and journal articles which convey his thinking in these areas. Books include John Dewey and Education Outdoors (2013, Sense Publishers, with Dr. Jayson Seaman) and Understanding Life in School: From Academic Classroom to Outdoor Education (2015, Palgrave Macmillan).
Book Contributors’ Panel 1: Reflection, Contemplation, and Meditative Inquiry, Aug 17, 3:50 - 5:20pm.
Meditative Inquiry in Dialogue with Heideggerian, Deweyan, and Buddhist Praxis (with Christopher McCaw). The project of curriculum as meditative inquiry brings with it a variety of philosophical challenges, in part because it requires venturing into territory not often encountered in conventional, method-centric considerations of education. Specifically, it provokes educational thinkers to look beyond images of teachers’ work as a form of reflective practice, and to explore contemplation, meditation and awareness as foundational dimensions of transformative teaching. This presentation brings the work of Kumar, specifically as it is grounded in Krishnamurti’s thought, into dialogue with Heideggerian, Deweyan, and Buddhist praxis. By doing this, we aim to address several key challenges. The first of these challenges is that of clearly conceptualising the state of awareness grounding meditative inquiry, which we formulate as non-dualistic aesthetic experience held in a non-grasping embrace. The second challenge relates to the ‘how?’: the question of the tools and practices available to educators to embark on meditative inquiry. Finally, the idea of pure observation, offered as a foundation for meditative inquiry, is examined from the perspective of hermeneutics. We argue that this perspective helps articulate the horizons of the implications of meditative inquiry for teaching, learning and living. 

Kelly Resmer is a chemistry lab instructor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, NS. She teaches a variety of labs ranging from first-year general chemistry to third-year intermediary metabolism. Prior to working at MSVU, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Colorado State University, where she also completed a teaching fellowship through the American Society for Microbiology. She has a PhD in Chemistry and Certificate in University Teaching and Learning from Dalhousie University and a BSc from the University of Waterloo.

Keynote Panel 2, Interdisciplinary Exploration of Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 18, 10:30 - 11:50am.

Chemistry Laboratory Teaching and Learning Guided by Meditative Inquiry. As a chemistry laboratory instructor who taught exclusively hands-on labs, the COVID pandemic provided a significant shift to my teaching, labs were totally online. Returning to campus I changed, my students changed, I couldn’t continue to teach the same way I used to. Guided by Meditative Inquiry I thought deeply about what I valued as a person, a lab instructor, and the lab learning environment I wanted to foster. I ‘un-graded’ the lab, focused on meaningful feedback, self-reflection, and making mistakes. I offered more student choice and used inquiry-based lab learning, allowing students to be more creative in their learning.

Carlo Ricci is a full Professor at the Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University, Graduate Studies. He founded and edits the Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning (JUAL). He has published a number of books and articles. His research interests include Unschooling; Homeschooling; Holistic Education; Self-determined Learning; Free Schools; Democratic Schools; Online Learning; Technology and Learning; Play; Natural Learning; Curiosity; Willed Learning; the Willed Curriculum; Critical Pedagogy; and Healthy Living. 

Journal Editors' Panel, Meditative Inquiry and Holistic and Alternative Education Theories and Practices, Aug 16, 2:10 - 3:40pm.

The connections I Make Between Self-determined Learning and Ashwani’s 7 Key Principles of Meditative Inquiry. Among my interests is self-determined learning or unschooling or what I call willed learning. These terms refer to a similar concept in that the learner is empowered and gets to decide what to learn, when, where, how, and why. As I was reading the text that Ashwani asked me to respond to, I was struck by the connections that made sense to me between meditative inquiry and willed learning. In an attempt to share the connections that I made, I will focus on Ashwani’s (2022) 7 key principles of meditative inquiry: 

  1. Questioning deeply about everything without fear 

  2. Critiquing social injustice, oppression, and discrimination 

  3. Celebrating the freedom to think, to observe, to express, and to be 

  4. Cultivating awareness of the ways one thinks, feels, and acts 

  5. Partaking and rejoicing in the creative flow of life 

  6. Understanding relationships and connecting with people and nature deeply 

  7. Participating in dialogue with oneself and others honestly and authentically. (p.xxiv) 

Krista C. Ritchie is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University where she teaches in the preservice teacher and graduate programs. Krista’s study of inquiry began in 2003 when she joined McGill University’s High Ability and Inquiry Research Team, under the mentorship of Professor Bruce Shore. Her research interests focus on the interplay between cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of teaching and learning using mixed-methods approaches.

Book Contributors’ Panel 2, Dialogue and Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm.

The Dialogic and Vulnerable Nature of Learning: Perspectives From Positive Psychology and Meditative Inquiry (with Paul S. Stemmler). This presentation reflects on Kumar’s prior writings on meditative from a positive psychology perspective. Positive psychology involves the study of how people function and thrive daily. The two key constructs from Kumar’s meditative inquiry that will be explored are the dialogic and vulnerable nature of learning. This presentation calls us to understand curriculum and schooling as central to child and adolescent development. A call-to-action requests we shift toward an inquiry approach to public school, informed by scholarship on social-constructivism, self-awareness, and emotions. 

David Sable, PhD, is Adjunct Professor in the Religious Studies Department at Saint Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he has been teaching courses on Buddhism and Spirituality in the Workplace since 2000. He is co-editor with Dr. Trudy Sable of the Journal of Contemplative Inquiry, an international, online, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal for all who design, research, teach, and assess contemplative and introspective methods and practices in college and university settings. David has led numerous professional development workshops and residential retreats for teachers at all levels, including a Practicum/Retreat in Mindfulness/Contemplative Education at Mount Saint Vincent University.
Book Contributors' Panel 3, Diverse Cultural Perspectives and Meditative Inquiry, Aug 17, 1:00 - 2:20pm.
Meditative Inquiry and Mindfulness. The premise of this presentation is that the understanding of consciousness and its transformation should form the core of educational experience as has been argued by Ashwani Kumar in his writings. Throughout this presentation, mindfulness is presented as an ally in the theory and practice of education. Meditative inquiry is not a teaching technique or a strategy, it is meant to be a new paradigm for education. Likewise, mindfulness in its essence is also not a technique or a strategy. Like meditative inquiry, mindfulness is a foundational way of being. This chapter presents the case that they are well-aligned with each other. Both have far-reaching transformative implications for the prevailing paradigms in education. They provide more than traditional rote learning, adherence to ideologies as objective truth, and a fragmented sense of self in perpetual conflict. They provide conditions for transformation at the level of consciousness, the felt sense of connectedness, and authentic dialogue without fixation on ideologies.
Darlene St. Georges is a visual artist, poet, and creation-centred scholar. She is assistant professor of art education at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. She is co-editor of Artizein: Arts and Teaching Journal. Dr. St. Georges’ theoretical and practice-based research recognizes the creative, critical, spiritual, and performative ways of knowing in the world. Generating and sharing counter-narratives and creation stories invites innovation in learning and embraces an unfolding metamorphosis of scholarship in provocative, creative, and intellectual ways. www.darlenestgeorges.com  darlene.stgeorges@uleth.ca
Holistic and Contemplative Education Scholar's Panel, Aug 16, 3:50 - 5:20pm.
Visual and Poetic Storying: Threads of Creation-Centred Practice. The gift of creation-centred approaches to inquiry, learning, unlearning, and teaching resists the colonial lens by virtue of exploring inner subjective space. By relinquishing colloquial aesthetic constraints, and enveloping a sacred space in which to restore, heal, and decolonize the imagination, this presentation invites the audience to consider creative lifeforce as a conduit for a re)telling of our cosmic story; a restoration of knowledge(s) and knowing, ancient and ethereal. In the spirit of meditative inquiry, creation-centred visual and poetic storying offers a critical and sacred place)space for much needed unravelling, re)learning and discoveries to take place.

Alice Salt is Commissioning Editor at Routledge. She actively commissions high-level research monographs across all sub-disciplines in the areas of Education, Psychology, and Mental Health. She considers proposals for both authored books and edited collections which present cutting-edge and academically rigorous research in these fields.

Opening Remarks, Aug. 16, 9:00 - 9:20am

Alice Salt will offer opening remarks at the conference.

Dr. Suzanne Le-May Sheffield is the Executive Director (Acting) of the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Dalhousie University.  She has held a Director role there since 2012 and has over 25 years of educational development and university teaching experience at York University and at Dalhousie.  She has published in both her disciplinary field of history and in the scholarship of teaching and learning and scholarship of educational development fields and is currently an associate editor for the International Journal for Academic Development. She has long had an interest in mindfulness and contemplative practices in higher education and for some time ran a faculty discussion group exploring this approach to teaching and learning together.

Panel on Meditative Inquiry and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Aug 18, 9:00 - 10:20am (with Angie Kolen, Leigh-Ann Macfarlane, Suzanne Le-May Sheffield, & Gavan Watson).

Our panel will explore connections and key questions that highlight the application and value of meditative inquiry in higher education. We will draw on our professional experiences teaching in a variety of disciplines and working in Teaching and Learning Centres to discuss the following questions with conference attendees:

  • How does meditative inquiry connect to professional work and personal development in higher education?

  • How does meditative inquiry inform classroom practice?

  • How can meditative inquiry support teaching development?

  • How do we balance the aspirations of meditative inquiry with the reality of western higher education systems?

 We invite attendees’ questions and interactive discussions with us.

Emiyah Simmonds is a Black Nova Scotian who is currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Education program at Mount Saint Vincent University (Halifax, Canada). Emiyah is passionate about creating a safe and welcoming learning environment that supports diverse, equitable, inclusive, and holistic education. She hopes to bring a variety of diverse voices, thoughts, perspectives, and ways of knowing into her teaching practice.

In-person Celebratory Cultural Evening and Reception, Aug 18, 6:30 - 8:00pm.

An Ode to Meditative Inquiry and Dialogue: Poetry Recitation. I was introduced to the teaching as meditative inquiry approach in Dr. Ashwani Kumar’s Holistic Teaching and Learning Course in fall 2021. In Dr. Kumar’s class, I was able to witness first-hand how radically different a classroom environment becomes when meditative inquiry and dialogue are at the forefront of the educator’s mind and inform their pedagogy. In my engagement with the article, “Teaching as Meditative Inquiry: A Dialogical Exploration”, as well as through experiencing this pedagogy in Dr. Kumar’s classroom, I was able to conceptualize and visualize how I can incorporate meditative inquiry in my own classroom. Meditative inquiry has impacted me deeply, and I believe that it will help me to develop relationships amongst and between students and with myself. It will help me to understand the value of living a more self-aware life and invite my students to do the same. In my poem, I express my personal connection to the teaching as meditative inquiry approach and the benefits it can offer for me and my students and for my future classroom. In my poem, I will integrate quotes by Dr. Kumar with my own ideas and interpretation of meditative inquiry, dialogue, and holistic education.

Yelena Smith is a history teacher at Charles P. Allen High School. I have been teaching world history and French since 1995 in Russia, USA, and Canada. Born and raised in USSR, I have been fortunate to be educated in Russia, France, and the USA. I received a BA ( History, Linguistics) and B.Ed. from Samara State University and I am currently pursuing my Master in Foundations of Education from MSVU. My true passion for social justice has materialized in founding an advocacy group, Cheetahs for Change, deeply grounded into amplifying the voices of the historically marginalized racial communities in Canada. I strive to create a community of learners that nurtures empathy, compassion, and emotional and academic growth in a positive environment.

Holistic Teachers' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 4:00 - 5:30pm.

Crocheting the Sacred Threads of Indigenous and Holistic Knowledges in History Classes. As a history teacher, I believe in the mantra that revisionism of one’s perspective enriches history’s effervescent, breathing, and vivacious nature. With COVID-19 illuminating and exacerbating the national and global social malaise, I felt compelled to return to graduate school at MSVU to explore how I could engage into meaningful and contemplative conversations with my peer educators and to foster a safe place to ignite a social change at my current school. In my quest for social justice courses, I have been fortunate to come across Dr. Kumar’s course description of Holistic Education and engage with his teachings and his empowering non-eurocentric ways of thinking and being. Following the six-day mental retreat into Dr. Kumar’s transformative world of educational tranquility and serenity, I sustained an emotional renaissance and cognitive metamorphosis. While sharing his holistic and metaphysical gifts with us, Kumar (2022) drew on how meditative inquiry plants a seed of change and “creates a culture of peace, compassion, and wholeness to promote peaceful co-existence on earth”(p. 30).

In my endeavour to amplify the First voices of the historically unheard , invisible, or marginalized racial communities in Canada, I turn to Kumar’s work to optimize the educational potential and to inspire a microcosm of change within my own History Classroom.

This presentation, a precious gift of synergy, has been inspired by Dr. Kumar’s Transformative Meditative Inquiry Practices and Dr. Downey’s Indigenization at School. The synthesis of these two epistemological approaches, Holistic Apotheosis and Indigenization, arguably allow for decentering my own Eurocentric ways of knowing and embody mindful albeit “subtle” and “awkward ways” ( Kumar, 2022; Downey, 2018) to unpack complicated historical incongruencies while “igniting” my students’ passions and paving a road to social justice (Kumar, 2022).  

Paul S. Stemmler is a preservice teacher in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Dalhousie University and is completing his practicum in secondary science education. During his preservice training, he has worked as a research assistant on a variety of research projects that focus on cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of teaching and learning, with a specific interest in social network analysis.

Book Contributors’ Panel 2, Dialogue and Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm.

The Dialogic and Vulnerable Nature of Learning: Perspectives From Positive Psychology and Meditative Inquiry (with Krista C Ritchie). This presentation reflects on Kumar’s prior writings on meditative from a positive psychology perspective. Positive psychology involves the study of how people function and thrive daily. The two key constructs from Kumar’s meditative inquiry that will be explored are the dialogic and vulnerable nature of learning. This presentation calls us to understand curriculum and schooling as central to child and adolescent development. A call-to-action requests we shift toward an inquiry approach to public school, informed by scholarship on social-constructivism, self-awareness, and emotions. 

Teresa Strong-Wilson is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at McGill University and Editor-in-Chief of the McGill Journal of Education. Her research has primarily been with teachers on the critical use of stories in the classroom. She has published extensively in autobiography, curriculum, early childhood, memory studies and social justice education, in such peer-reviewed journals as Changing English, Children’s Literature in Education, Educational Theory, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Teachers and Teaching, and Theory into Practice. Her most recently-published book is called Teachers’ Ethical Self-encounters with Counter-stories in the Classroom: From Implicated to Concerned Subjects (Routledge, 2021).

Journal Editors' Panel, Meditative Inquiry and Holistic and Alternative Education Theories and Practices, Aug 16, 2:10 - 3:40pm.

Touching Interiority, given Time and Space: A Journal Editor’s Perspective. To read Kumar’s volume as a journal editor is to have an eye on its reception as well as its application within a scholarly community as well as within one of practitioners; as a generalist journal in education, the McGill Journal of Education caters to both. It is to ask myself questions like: What is meditative inquiry? What distinguishes it from other approaches—in mindfulness, in social justice education, in teacher reflection on practice? What is its contribution—to teachers, to students, to researchers, within contexts of formal and informal learning? Who will it be most useful to? In short, what difference is it making or hoping to make? “For teachers, the meditative mind begins by asking yourself serious, meaningful questions and giving yourself time and space to answer them” (Downey, p. 88). In coming to the volume, I read first as a reader, a curriculum scholar and a teacher educator, for the book’s argument spoke to my own auto/biographical research with teachers, which is very much about engaging “interiority” (Pinar). What might meditative inquiry help me to see, or see differently? More, how might I “observe the movement of thought without the interference of the ‘I’” (McCaw & Quay, p. 144) and invite others to do the same—to experience experiencing? My presentation thus opens briefly with my own response—as if I was a MJE author invited to write a book review of the volume—but then as journal editor, focuses in on what I believe others’ responses to such a collection would be, how I see meditative inquiry responding to the kinds of questions already being raised (as well as not yet being raised) by articles published in the MJE; and its power to influence future generations of educational scholars, teacher-educators and teachers.

Laurel Tien: Inspired by the self-directed learning journey of my children--now young adults!--I embarked on my own parallel path through the SelfDesign Graduate Institute's MA program. I have continued to deepen my understandings of post-traditional education through my PhD in the Transformative Studies program at California Institute of Integral Studies, where my dissertation focused on privileging emergence and relational learning as generative collective wisdom. My teaching and research over the past ten years has focused on experiential, holistic, integral and transformational approaches to education. In these roles I get to see the power of holding space for holistic, emergent knowing with individuals and intentional learning communities. Academic Website: https://laureltien.academia.edu/
 
Journal Editors' Panel, Meditative Inquiry and Holistic and Alternative Education Theories and Practices, Aug 16, 2:10 - 3:40pm.
Meditative Inquiry and Holistic Education: Resonant Practices (presenting with Paul Freedman). As holistic educators it is essential for our research methods to align with our core beliefs and worldview. A landscape of qualitative methodologies that elevate the wholeness of subjects, honor the relationships, and allow researchers to bring their interiority and subjectivity into the work are very much needed. We too often encounter scholars writing about holistic education rather than embodying the practice as an integral part of their research. As two of the four co-editors of the Holistic Education Review (HER), we strive to enhance and broaden the scholarship of holistic education, lift up diverse and emerging voices of holistic education practice and connect the holistic education community. HER is an open-source online journal, offering articles from holistic community practitioners blended with peer-reviewed articles.
Jack J. Ward I am a high school English Teacher who is taking my Master's to teach ESL/EAL as a circuit teacher for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education. This will be my last year as an English classroom teacher and it is my intention to restructure it using holistic and meditative approaches providing my students with flexible and still focused rubrics with a variety of sample streams for which they can take their own approaches to learn the key outcomes and skills for their courses. This will limit my direct teaching and open up my observation of their learning.

Holistic Teachers' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 4:00 - 5:30pm.

Practical Applications in a High School English Classroom. This presentation will focus on some of the ways a public high school teacher can use the outcomes for grades 9-12 to facilitate a Garden of Inquiry learning in the English classroom. Targeting around different units of discovery, common skills, and flexible assessments help provide the cornerstones for administration. Students use these frameworks to create an individualized learning experience inspired by Dr. Kumar's Meditative Inquiry and Holistic Education practices and the scholastic principles of James Macdonald.

Dr. Gavan Watson (he/him) is the Associate Vice President, Teaching and Learning, and Director of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Memorial University (St. John’s, NL). Gavan’s research blends scholarly practice to build expertise and has been published in peer-reviewed journals like New Directions for Teaching and Learning as well as in publications like EDUCAUSE review. With an academic background in environmental education, Dr. Watson has been invited to speak across Canada and the United States on topics ranging from Open Badges to Facilitating Student Assessment with Technology. Gavan is a father of two young children, and lives backing on prime Bakeapple habitat in St. John’s.

Panel on Meditative Inquiry and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Aug 18, 9:00 - 10:20am (with Angie Kolen, Leigh-Ann Macfarlane, & Suzanne Le-May Sheffield).

Our panel will explore connections and key questions that highlight the application and value of meditative inquiry in higher education. We will draw on our professional experiences teaching in a variety of disciplines and working in Teaching and Learning Centres to discuss the following questions with conference attendees:

  • How does meditative inquiry connect to professional work and personal development in higher education?

  • How does meditative inquiry inform classroom practice?

  • How can meditative inquiry support teaching development?

  • How do we balance the aspirations of meditative inquiry with the reality of western higher education systems?

 We invite attendees’ questions and interactive discussions with us.

Rajean Willis is a proud African Nova Scotian woman. She is a doctoral candidate in Educational Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University and has an educational and professional background in clinical social work. Rajean’s research interests examine the intersectionality of race, culture, well-being, and social justice, particularly exploring cultural trauma and anti-Black racism and the impact on African Nova Scotians with a call for holistic healing.
Book Contributors’ Panel 2, Dialogue and Meditative Inquiry, Aug. 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm.
Explorations of Trauma through Meditative Inquiry (with Laura Leslie).
 In this presentation, we engage in self-reflection and dialogue with each other regarding our experiences with meditative inquiry, a new educational approach introduced to us by Ashwani Kumar in the Doctoral Seminar in Contemporary Educational Theory. In this chapter, we will reflect on what we believe are the transformative aspects of meditative inquiry for us as budding scholars. More specifically, we will contemplate meditative inquiry as a means for enhancing our understanding of our research interests in trauma. We will explore how meditative inquiry can help us a) expand our understanding of trauma including cultural and intergenerational trauma; b) as an option for pursuing work in social justice from the inside out; and c) challenge mainstream ideas and definitions of trauma. The co-presenters conclude that meditative inquiry, with its emphasis on self-exploration, critical reflection, and collegial dialogue, can play an important role in understanding and healing trauma.   
Neeraj Verma did his medical schooling residency and initial ICU training in India. Subsequently, he did advance ICU training in Toronto and Ottawa. Since 2017, he has been an assistant professor at Dalhousie University, and working as a paediatric critical care specialist at the IWK Children's Hospital. On the education front, he works as the education supervisor for medical residents who rotate through paediatric ICU. He is interested in exploring the significance of self-knowledge and awareness in the educational experience. "Learning to me is an internal psychological process, and, to be useful, it needs to be appreciated by the learner positively. This appreciation requires awareness on the part of the learner. And this awareness needs to be cultivated." He believes freedom of choice, reflection, critical dialogue and meditation, the four components of meditative enquiry approach, are essential in cultivating this awareness. These strategies develop awareness and help learners in becoming self-regulated and critical thinkers, which are all crucial for continuously evolving medical knowledge and practice. 
Practitioners' Panel on Meditative Inquiry, Aug 18, 1:00 - 2:30pm.
Meditative Inquiry for the Field of Medicine. 
Meditative Inquiry can not be defined or described, as it is not an approach or a process. It is a way of being. One can only describe one's current state of being relative to the state before indulging in it. This comparison is a testament to its profoundness. While meditatively inquiring, one's awareness develops, progresses, and deepens constantly. This expansion of awareness leads to knowing or understanding so that one becomes different from what one was before it. This subjectivity change is entirely individualistic, authentic, persistent, and not determined by a preset outcome. Finally, one's thoughts, behaviours, and actions in daily living reflect this self-transformation resulting from self-actualization. Learning is an internal psychological process. Learning to result in acquiring knowledge, skills, and behaviour requires appreciation by the learner. This appreciation needs one to become aware of the change the learning has brought within and then evaluate it positively. Thus Awareness is crucial to the process of learning and education irrespective of the domain, including medical education. Through freedom of choice, self-reflection and critical dialogue, Awareness can be cultivated. It will not only help nurture the humanistic attributes of a budding doctor but also help acquire knowledge and skill of medicine as a subject.
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