History: First Summer Sessions

The first session of the Naropa Institute was a summer session in Boulder. The organizers expected between three hundred and five hundred people to show up from around the country to take courses at the Institute, whose intriguing mission of Buddhism-meets-great-Western-thought remains intact at today’s Naropa University. Instead, more than 1,300 students flocked to Boulder, transforming what many in 1974 considered a "quiet Midwestern town you’d drive through" into an energetic center of learning.

Great American minds of the time came to teach and be a part of the experience—Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, John Cage, and many others. The Naropa Institute took on a life of its own and the organizers did their best to keep up.

“Almost overnight, Boulder has become a magnet of learning and excitement and promise… The student body is made up of an astonishing assortment of college students, dropouts, scholars, scientists, artists, therapists, dancers, heads of departments, musicians, housewives, and on and on. The whole first week seems to be filled with a sort of joyous incredulity that Naropa is really happening.” —September, 1974, East-West Journal