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January 20, 2018 / 5:35 am EST


Naropa University
Naropa UniversityJun 23, 2013
A Contemplative Education

At Boulder, Colorado's Naropa University, students are inspired by world-class professors - people awarded Grammy awards and Fulbright fellowships, take challenging classes involving their minds and their hearts, all while gaining awareness into their inner selves. A full roster of traditional and untraditional graduate and undergraduate degree programs just hint at the rich experience to be found here. There's much that goes on at Naropa that is unlike many other institutions of higher learning. Students leave Naropa University with the ability to improve lives, help the environment, and ultimately become agents of change.

Naropa University was founded in 1974 as the Naropa Institute by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Buddhist born in Tibet. He fled after the Chinese invasion, but once safely out made it his mission to bring the wisdom of the Buddhist teachings to the world. After studying religion, philosophy, and fine arts at Oxford University, he began teaching Buddhism in the United States while simultaneously founding meditation centers across the world. His greatest vision was to create a center of learning by combining traditional Western learning with contemplative studies. This unique place would shape future leaders who have learned to combine theory, practice, and self-awareness in order to be highly effective at their chosen career path.

At Naropa, the focus is on the whole person, not just the absorption of intellectual knowledge. In fact, the University is a haven for people who don't quite fit in traditional schools. Musicians, poets, writers, and people with a unique and creative take on the world find that an education at Naropa opens doors for them. That's not to say academics aren't important. In fact, intellectual growth is highly prized.

Students choose their undergraduate or graduate study areas from a variety of majors ranging from psychology, education, religion, and peace studies to art, writing, performing and music. Naropa also offers an environmental studies major for students who want to address major environmental issues in their careers. Graduate degree programs are offered in areas both traditional, such as religious studies or theater, for example, and unique, with concentrations including environmental leadership, somatic counseling psychology, and wilderness therapy.

With an emphasis on awareness and respect for yourself, our nation, and the world, it's only natural that sustainability is also a school-wide practice. Through contemplative education, where students are asked to think deeply about themselves, their place in the world, and their responsibility to take care of the planet we live on, sustainability becomes a basis for everything that follows. For the students, faculty, and staff at Naropa University, putting sustainability into practice is key.

One program unique to Naropa University is the ecopsychology program. This Masters-level program combines academics with contemplation to help students understand the link between human health and the health of the earth. Students of ecopsychology take a close look at the ability of the mind, body, and spirit to either enhance the relationship with the planet, or take away from it. It is one of the only programs of this kind in the world.

Any person can pursue some form of higher education, gain the skills they need for their future career path, and go on to perform in that career effectively and successfully. What Naropa University offers is the chance to pursue not just a career, but a life's path. One that is fulfilling and personally satisfying, makes a difference in the world, and ultimately encourages the minds and hearts of others. Naropa's academics are rich and stimulating, while the contemplative focus asks students to become more than they believed possible. This journey is taken in a setting emphasizing a connection with yourself, with others, and with the planet we call home.


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