Create. Make. Serve. And Work.
The goal of learning is to discover your gifts and develop your skills so that you form valuable resources that you can offer the world. Nothing is more satisfying than to find your purpose and spend your days fulfilling it. Naropa's contemplative liberal arts education helps you do just that.
Naropa graduates learn to listen to their hearts and their minds. Then they take what they learn in the classroom, on campus, and from the Naropa community and bring it out into the world. Whether locally, nationally, or internationally, you'll find people connected to Naropa in many corners of the world providing meaningful and creative services in their chosen careers.
Naropa University's low-residency Ecopsychology program attracts students from all over the world, as an entire master's program in the subject is rare, if not unique, to Naropa.
Ecopsychology student Christopher Quiseng works as an archaeologist at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. On any given day he might find himself walking through volcanic landscapes of barren lava flows, in lush green rain forests, or among subterranean lava tubes.
"Studying ecopsychology through the combination of contemplative practice and academics appears to take education beyond just knowing about a subject, topic, or field of study," says Quiseng. "I am finding that the combination of contemplative practice and academic study helps me to develop more personal discipline, an ability to cope with the challenges of life and a creative discovery of what makes me most alive."
In Deb Young's Contemplative Education courses, students are required to perform two to three service hours a week. She teaches "Poverty Matters," a course that prompts students to learn why poverty is important for everyone to understand. Through community service, students deepen their understanding of poverty and how it affects marginalized populations.
The class culminates in a trip to Jalapa, Nicaragua, where students work with people in the community. Several years ago, the class started the tradition of building a school. Lacking the sufficient building supplies, the students make bricks from scratch out of dirt from the riverbed. While they're doing the hard labor, they're interacting with the local community.
It's that part—the human part—that Young emphasizes when she boils it all down into four simple, intentional words: "We listen to stories."
Joan Rieger (MA, Transpersonal Counseling Psychology, '01) grew up in a traditional environment, attended traditional schools, and worked in a traditional corporate world. Then she came to Naropa University where she says it opened the door to a whole new way of being in the world and connecting with people.
"If I hadn't come to Naropa, there's no way I'd be the therapist I am today," Rieger says. As Rieger studied at Naropa, she also began riding horses. At the time, the two interests seemed unrelated. But as she rode, she discovered the horse was another teacher. Fear, frustration, and miscommunication were lessons that came along with riding.
"So much would get evoked from me emotionally as I was learning to ride. I would bump up against so much within myself as I was on the back of that horse," she says.
Rieger learned about equine-assisted therapy. In this type of therapy, horses partner with people to facilitate both physical and emotional therapy. Rieger began offering equine-assisted therapy in her own practice. And when she returned to Naropa as an adjunct faculty member in the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology program, she was able to work in the new equine component of Naropa's Wilderness Therapy program.
Service and Learning
While service and learning are an integral approach to every day at Naropa University, there's one day each year when you'll find practically the entire community simultaneously involved in community service and civic engagement. During Naropa University's annual Day of Service and Learning, Naropa students, faculty, staff, and alumni step out of their everyday lives to commit a full day to any number of service projects within the greater Boulder area. Taking one day when the entire university commits a day to service highlights for all the Naropa community the importance of taking the time to serve and to learn from such experiences.
Additionally, every semester Naropa suspends classes for Community Practice Day. On that day, Naropa students, faculty, and staff attend lectures on contemplative practice and participate in providing contemplative service within the community. For example, during the spring 2011 Community Practice Day, members of the Naropa community planted seedlings in a greenhouse, worked with third graders, and packed boxes of food for a local food bank.