Meet Judith Simmer-Brown

Judith Simmer-Brown

Religious Studies

Teaching philosophy

Infusing intellectual investigation with intuition and heart. My courses always balance theory and practice, study and personal exploration, intellectual investigation and meditation or contemplation.

Teaching goals

To help students find their own voices in classroom discussions, in presentation and in writing. In this way, learning is growing both the heart and mind in order to develop the gifts we have to offer the world.

My greatest achievement

Helping to move the field of Religious Studies to embrace both the intellectual and experiential study of religion and increasing the understanding of non-Western religions. The reception of my new book, Meditation in the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies, is gratifying and suggests that the pendulum is swinging toward a greater appreciation for the influence of meditation practice on learning.

What comes to mind when I think of Naropa

The founder's vision for Naropa. At the opening talk for Naropa, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche spoke of how the pilot light had gone out in American education such that there was little respect for living traditions; instead, everyone was studying dead things. He knew that bringing the traditions of the East and West together would create magic. He wanted to "reignite the pilot light," so that love of learning would be a natural part of education.

What do I most value about Naropa?

Our students, courageous and open-hearted people of all ages who come to a University that asks them to "show up" with everything they have, to work hard, open their hearts and minds and discover more fully their reason for living.

How have you transformed since coming to teach at Naropa?

I have come to appreciate the power of shared vision, community, and doing work that we all love. I've moved from a merely individualistic frame of reference into a more society-based view of what it means to be human and appreciate the goodness that can come when we honor each other in society.