Residential Fellowship Opportunity

The Frederick P. Lenz Residential Fellowship in Buddhism and American Culture & Values

This is an opportunity for faculty and other professionals to spend a semester on the Naropa University campus in Boulder, Colorado, conducting a research, artistic, social action, or other project that relates Buddhist philosophy and practice to an aspect of American culture and values. This is an ideal place for a Buddhism fellowship, Religious Studies fellowship, or sabbatical fellowship in Religion.


2020-2021 Academic year Scholar

Elizabeth Maynard, Ph.D. 

Embodied Pedagogies for Liberatory Art PracticesEmbodied Pedagogies for Liberatory Art Practices

This fellowship supports the development of art history and art pedagogies rooted in embodied practices. The alleged meritocracies that govern many higher educational cultures in the United States (often linked to supremacist constructions of individual excellence) contribute to significant rates of anxiety, depression, and burnout among students, especially in BIPOC communities. In reckoning with my personal experience as a student and an adjunct professor, combined with my observation of the experiences of my students at the highly competitive Rhode Island School of Design, my research and teaching-learning methodologies have turned towards the possibilities of body-mind based epistemologies within educational institutions. My work as an educator and scholar have been both personally and methodologically informed by my Buddhist-lineage meditation practice, by way of Jewish Renewal interpretive models. The decentering of Self implicit in both is reflected in the post-Modernist project of art history, while somatic awareness is foundational to exploring alternatives to Englightenment-era Western epistemologies, as well as cultivating spaces for transformative praxis among students and faculty in a neoliberal environment. I plan to produce and publish sharable teaching modules for anti-oppression educators aiming to integrate contemplative and embodied practices into artistic/creative pedagogy.

2019-2020 Academic year scholar

Kathleen Yep, Ph.D.

Integrating Contemplative Practices in Palliative Care by and for Immigrants and Refugees

In collaboration with a community partner, I will co-develop a transformative justice curriculum by and for undocumented immigrants and refugees. Weaving together contemplative practices, public health, and feminist pedagogies, this project centers loving-kindness practices to amplify community strategies for surviving and thriving after release from immigration detention centers. In doing so, we will reimagine palliative care in the context of historical trauma and community cultural wealth. 


Stephanie Briggs

Visioning the Eightfold Path: Liberatory Contemplative Practical Empowerment for African-American Educators

Stephanie Briggs is an independent scholar/artist and owner/designer of Be.Still.Move., a program of contemplative, compassionate community building through embodied movement and arts-based learning. She has created racially sensitive self-care programs for the STEM Women of Color Conclave, Howard University Hospital, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.  Her recent research, “Practical Empowerment: Building Contemplative Communities With Student of Color” funded by a grant from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, consisted of a think tank of faculty of color from six institutions focusing on the value of contemplative communities on college campuses. Based on qualitative assessments, this year-long project determined that incorporating personal, practical strategies through contemplative pedagogical processes that were partially informed by African/African-American practices were key elements when creating safe, academic spaces. Stephanie Briggs’ 2018-2019 Lenz Fellowship project will address inequities towards African-American faculty, particularly those in predominately white institutions (PWIs), through community-based practices that contextualize Buddhist and African/African-American spirituality wisdoms. By also incorporating art and movement-based theories, the goal is to uncover ways of rethinking and releasing suffering and, through the creation of training modules, establish the groundwork for personal, transformative change through contemplative, communal practices designed for African-American faculty.


Jennifer Woodhull

Working with Violence from an Inclusive Worldview

Both at home and abroad, Americans are increasingly being obliged to confront the issue of violence. Conventional solutions have proven inadequate to the the scope and urgency of the problem. Similarly, appeals to religious values of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, and the like seem to have yielded sparse fruit. Violence of every kind, religious and otherwise, continues to vex the contemporary American situation. The 2016–17 Lenz Fellowship project is based on the proposition that, as in the observation popularly attributed to Albert Einstein, a problem cannot be solved by the same consciousness that gave rise to it. A more radical approach is required: literally radical, in the sense of addressing the roots of violent human conduct. The Lenz project will seek to uncover and amplify clues to such an approach through a hands-on engagement with the nondual worldview of Vajrayāna Buddhism. The Naropa community will be invited to help create a radio presentation that encourages listeners to identify and befriend the habitual violence in their own experience. The design of the project itself serves as a model for the inclusive perspective from which may be glimpsed a novel, and conceivably effective, approach to the problem of violence.

2015–2016 Academic Year Scholar

Ryūmon Baldoquin, Sensei

Contemplative Somatic Wellness™: A Body-Mind Centered Movement for Spiritual Social Activism

Ryūmon Hilda Baldoquín Sensei, MS.Ed, SEP®, an independent scholar-activist and practitioner, is guiding teacher and co-founder, with her spouse Catherine Anraku Hondorp Sensei, of Two Streams Zen, a Multicultural Dharma Movement with the mission of transforming people and communities through fearless intimacy and living compassion. Ryūmon Sensei’s project, Contemplative Somatic Wellness™: A Body-Mind Centered Movement for Spiritual Social Activism, arose out of the profound need to address the present societal suffering of: the historical legacy of racial oppression, institutionalized structural inequities, and the healing of intergenerational trauma which continues to live in our physiology. Guided by a vision of a true spiritual activism that embodies sanity, wisdom and compassion, the project integrates the essence of Zen Buddhist teachings and practices with the trauma resolution modality of Somatic Experiencing®, grounded in the theory of Emancipatory Consciousness. With the intention of creating a body-centered social justice movement, Contemplative Somatic Wellness™ isaholistic and integrative application of these three transformative vehicles. The outcome is the design of protocols, practices, and strategies towards the implementation of a somatic immersion contemplative, ninety-day retreat for the training and mentorship of social justice leaders of color—an important, and sorely needed, development in American Buddhism.

2014–2015 Academic Year Scholar

Melissa Rolnick, MFA

MEISA: Movement Exploration through Imagery and Sensory Awareness

Melissa Rolnick currently teaches dance at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Integrating her background in dance and contemplative practice, Melissa has developed a somatic approach termed MEISA: Movement Exploration through Imagery and Sensory Awareness. MEISA is a burgeoning somatic and contemplative practice/form that is evolving out of the questing need to know, live and move deeply in the authenticity of the body, by consciously stepping away from the relentless tempo of contemporary, American rhythms. Her presence at Naropa will be a unique experience for the University community to assist in the form's development. The practice will be taught in a one-semester course in Spring of 2015 consisting of contemplative practice, choreography generated from the embodied research/practice, and a performance practice realized through individual and group compositions.

2013–14 Academic Year Scholar

Douglas Lindner, PhD

Douglas Lindner received his PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois. He has been a faculty member in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech since 1982. In April of 2013 he organized a conference "Contemplative Practices for a Technological Society" at Virginia Tech. He practices meditation and qigong in the Shambhala sangha. While at Naropa University, Douglas Lindner  developed course materials for the integration of contemplative practices into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Using Buddhist and Taoist insights, this course was used to develop mindfulness, deep listening skills, and creativity with an emphasis on a holistic worldview as a framework for engineering design.

2012–13 Academic Year Scholar

Sarah J. Heidt, PhD
Contemplative Pedagogies for Literary Study

Sarah J. Heidt is an associate professor of English at Kenyon College, where she teaches nineteenth-century British literature and culture, auto/biography and life-writing, women's writing, and literatures of memory. She holds a PhD in English from Cornell University and has published essays about Victorian life-writing and contemporary memoir and film. She began Zen practice in 2010 and is a formal student at Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York. While at Naropa in spring 2013, she explored intersections of contemplative practice and literary study.

2011–12 Academic Year Scholars

David R. Loy, PhD
The Great Encounter: Why Buddhism and Modernity Need Each Other

Dr. David R. Loy is a professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy, writer and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is a distinguished author who has written several books and is regularly published in multiple publications, as well as serving on editorial and advising boards for various journals. Dr. Loy’s past research has focused upon the encounter between Buddhism and modernity, exhibiting special concern regarding social and ecological issues. His fellowship question, why Buddhism and modernity need each other, correlated directly to his research. While at Naropa, he began writing a new book that reveals the contemplative dialogue between Buddhism and the West.

Arturo J. Bencosme, PhD
Heart to Organizations: Contemplativeness-based Organizational Learning and Strategic Thinking

Originally studying engineering, Dr. Arturo J. Bencosme has been involved with organizational learning for over 30 years. His work includes teaching, management, and individual work with private, public, and nonprofit service organizations. Dr. Bencosme has served as a consultant, facilitator, and educator in the fields of visionary strategic planning, organizational leadership and servant leadership. As a fellow at Naropa, he was interested in developing a contemplative approach to enhancing learning in organizations. In conjunction with Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, Dr. Bencosme’s project explores how contemplativeness, especially meditation, can affect organizations. His work focused upon how contemplativeness is demonstrated in the work place and how Naropa graduates can bring contemplative practice into the work place. Dr. Bencosme worked on expanding the outreach of Naropa into the organizational world including businesses, nonprofits and so forth, and to strengthen the personal and professional journeys of Naropa’s students.


What is The Frederick P. Lenz Residential Fellowship Program?

The program is designed to provide scholars, artists, activists and other leaders and practitioners from a variety of disciplines with an opportunity to reside in Boulder, Colorado, and affiliate with Naropa University during their sabbatical or other professional leave. It supports visiting fellows in the development of an artistic, social action, curriculum development or other research project on some aspect of Buddhism’s contributions to American education and society. The residential experience affords fellows an opportunity to immerse themselves in the university’s varied curricular and community offerings, as well as complete a program of study and a project that contributes to their own professional field or another area of American culture and society.

Must I be a faculty member to apply for the program?

No. The program is available to faculty, artists, activists, leaders and independent scholar-practitioners who seek to immerse themselves in the study of Buddhism and complete a project that applies Buddhist philosophy and practice to some area of American culture and values. 

Must I be a US citizen or permanent resident to apply to the program?

Yes, only citizens and permanent residents of the United States are eligible for the Fellowship Program.

What will my experience be like if I am accepted as a fellow?

We hope to provide each fellow with an experience tailored to their professional background, interests and proposed project. During their residency on the Naropa campus, fellows will be able to audit classes. Also, they will be assigned a Naropa faculty member to serve as project mentor and/or meditation instructor. Fellows will be encouraged to become involved in the life of the university, attending guest lectures and recitals, meeting with students and offering a public lecture or other teaching.

What are the responsibilities of fellows?

Fellows will be expected to:

  • Immerse themselves in the educational opportunities of the university—auditing courses, meeting regularly with faculty, attending university functions, accessing library resources, etc.
  • Complete the project proposed in the application to the fellows program.
  • Present a public lecture or demonstration, conduct a classroom session and/or offer some contemplative practice or artistic performance.
  • Develop a plan for implementing the project after the residency. This may include a plan for publication, teaching, community service and so on.
  • Acknowledge the fellowship support, as well as both Naropa University and the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, in all publications, performances or other products resulting from the residency.

What are you looking for in applications?

We will select fellows whose plans of study propose the integration of Buddhist Studies with contemplative practice and illustrate a disciplinary, artistic or professional commitment. No prior academic knowledge of Buddhism will be required of applicants, although those applicants with prior meditation experience in one of the Buddhist traditions will have an advantage. Finally, applicants should demonstrate a commitment to participate in a rigorous program of study while at Naropa and to use the vehicle of the proposed project to integrate this study with their other professional interests. (Please note: Only citizens and permanent residents of the United States are eligible for the Fellowship Program.)

What kinds of projects qualify for support?

There is no limit to the academic, artistic or professional focus of the fellowship projects. We envision being able to support traditional academic scholarship, curriculum development, social action projects, professional training modules, artistic productions, and the like. The key is for projects to point to some issue in American social life (education, the arts, economics, politics, etc.) and propose study within the Buddhist tradition to address that issue.

What are the previous projects that have been supported?

We have attracted Fellows from a variety of disciplines and institutions:

Spring 2017
Jennifer Woodhull
Working with Violence from an Inclusive Worldview

Spring 2016
Ryūmon Baldoquin, Sensei
Contemplative Somatic Wellness™: A Body-Mind Centered Movement for Spiritual Social Activism

Spring 2015
Melissa Rolnick, MFA
MEISA: Movement Exploration through Imagery and Sensory Awareness

Fall 2013 - Spring 2014
Douglas Lindner, PhD
Integration of Contemplative Practice into STEM Education in Higher Education

Spring 2013
Sarah J. Heidt, PhD
Contemplative Pedagogies for Literary Studies

Spring 2012
Arturo Bencosme 
Heart to Organizations: Contemplativeness-Based Organizational Learning & Strategic Thinking

Fall 2011
David Loy 
The Great Encounter: Why Buddhism and Modernity Need Each Other

Spring 2011
Cary Gaunt, PhD
Cultivating Ecological Enlightenment: Buddhist Pathways to a Sustainable Way of Life

Fall 2010
Philip Meckley, PhD 
Raft of Straw: The Epistle of James as Jesus Sutra

Kim Russo, MFA
Contemporary artists and Buddhist practitioners

Elise Young, PhD
History as Dharma: Teaching the Middle East and Africa

Fall 2009

Hillary Stephenson, PhD cand.
Addressing diversity issues through Zen practice

Summer/Fall 2009
John Whalen-Bridge, PhD 
Buddhism, literary adaptation and progressive politics

Spring 2009
Elizabeth Lozano, PhD 
Non-violent resistance in the U.S. and abroad

Erin McCarthy, PhD
Zen, ethics, and comparative feminist perspectives 

What are the Lenz Foundation and Naropa University hoping to accomplish with this fellowship program?

Both the foundation and the university are interested in the unique forms of Buddhism taking root in America. The fellowship program continues Naropa’s leadership role as the pre-eminent accredited university in North America for contemplative studies and a provider of education that integrates Eastern and Western traditions of scholarship and practice. Along with the Summer Seminar in contemplative pedagogy for university professors, the fellowship program enables Naropa to support professionals wanting to enrich their work and their home institutions and communities through a deeper understanding of Buddhism.

Of course, Naropa will no doubt be enriched by hosting fellows as well. It is our hope that the fellows will energize the Naropa campus, by providing our students and faculty with new conversation partners, by offering a public lecture or teaching a course, and by serving as ambassadors to their home departments and disciplines. We also know that new institutional partnerships, collaborative relationships and publications carrying the name of the home institution and sponsoring foundation often live on long after the fellows have completed their campus residency and project at Naropa. Sponsoring multiple visiting fellows each year will provide Naropa faculty and students with opportunities to network with individuals representing a variety of scholarly and Buddhist traditions.

Tell me more about the relationship between Lenz and Naropa University.

Naropa takes to heart the commitment of the Lenz Foundation to “contribute to the establishment of unique American forms of Buddhist understanding and practice.” Like Dr. Frederick P. Lenz, Naropa’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, recognized the spiritual challenges that America’s fast-paced and materialist society holds for its citizens. Both Lenz and Trungpa Rinpoche understood the contribution that Buddhism—albeit a distinctly American one—can make to addressing these challenges. Naropa is proud of its forty years of success in forging a unique model of liberal arts and professional education and is delighted that the Lenz Foundation will expand our ability to influence scholars and other professionals in this area for years to come. (See more information about the Lenz Foundation.)

What is the normal length of residency for a fellow?

Fellows will typically be invited to spend one semester on campus, though a longer stay is possible to support a project of considerable depth and complexity. Our current funding will provide support for one one-semester fellow. 

What kinds of financial support are made available to fellows?

Typical stipends will range from $1,500 to $2,200 per month depending on two factors: The length of the Fellowship and the Fellow's projected total income during the Fellowship period.  Fellowships will be three to eight months during the Fall and/or Spring academic semesters by mutual agreement. Sabbatical programs generally work on the principle of bringing a faculty member to "wholeness," that is, up to their regular income level. Fellows receiving other forms of support (e.g., full salary from their home institutions or grants) will receive a smaller stipend than those who, as is more typical, are receiving partial salary. Independent scholars and artists, and those taking leaves-without-pay from their home institutions, will typically receive the maximum award.

Fellows are responsible for locating their own housing for themselves, and for any accompanying family members. Naropa staff will naturally provide fellows with information on local sources of information, sublease options, etc.

How do I apply?

The application period for the 2019-2020 Frederick P. Lenz Foundation Residential Fellowship for Buddhist Studies and American Culture and Values is now closed. 

apply here


For more information, please contact