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Naropa University Undergraduate Curricular Arc


Graduates cultivate unbiased awareness and presence of self, insight and clarity of mind, and compassionate practice.


Introductory Students situate themselves within their own spiritual heritages, values and practices within the context of contemplative education.

Milestone Students articulate an understanding of the contribution of contemplative and meditative modes of inquiry to their learning, creativity, and other academic work.

Capstone Students appraise how contemplative and meditative practices and values inform their post-graduation vocational, personal and life-long learning goals.


Introductory Students articulate a foundational knowledge of the key principles of contemplative education and the history, lineages and contemplative mission of Naropa University. Students demonstrate an understanding of contemplative methods of learning such as the three methods of hearing/studying, contemplating/reflecting, and meditating/opening/integrating. Students identify and understand contemplative principles of interdependence, nonviolence, pluralism, inclusiveness, and compassion.

Milestone Students interpret and apply the key principles and practices of contemplative education in their academic work. They demonstrate openness to uncertainty, ambiguity and paradox. Students integrate their cultivation of interdependence, nonviolence, pluralism, inclusiveness, and compassion into their academic work.

Capstone Students integrate contemplative modes of inquiry and principles into the Capstone work in their major(s) and manifest contemplative insight in their academic and creative work.


Introductory Students articulate an understanding of the mindfulness-awareness practices that form the basis of contemplative education. They employ a variety of specific contemplative practices and understand their purposes in academic inquiry and creativity. Students show a beginning ability to experientially distinguish among thoughts, emotions, and sense perceptions.

Milestone Students develop their own relationship with contemplative practice by choosing a contemplative discipline and engaging in regular practice. They articulate the intention, process and impact of that practice on their lives.

Capstone Students develop maturity in their chosen contemplative and meditative disciplines. They see their thoughts, emotions, and sense perceptions within a panoramic perspective beyond the personal.

2. Skillfulness in Addressing Diversity and Ecological Sustainability

Graduates are able to think critically and analytically about social and cultural diversity; they recognize the interconnectedness of the human community to ecological sustainability and cultivate sustainable practices.

A. Ecological Relationships and Sustainability Awareness

Introductory Students demonstrate an understanding of principles of ecological interrelationships, including living systems, complexity and interdependence. They appreciate the need to live with awareness and respect for one's self, the earth and its inhabitants, human and nonhuman. Students understand the dynamics and significance of the ecological crisis and what is meant by different kinds of sustainability.

Milestone Students express connections between their academic work and personal, global, and local sustainability. They understand sustainability as an expression of appreciation for the sacredness of the earth and contemplative principles in action.

Capstone Students integrate and apply a high level of understanding of different kinds of sustainability into their academic work, creative expression and community service.

B. Diversity and Systems of Privilege and Oppression

Introductory Students express personal beliefs and assumptions and explain systems of privilege and oppression at the local, national and global levels. They interpret the intersectionality of identifiers such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, ability, and socioeconomic class and how they shape individual and collective identities.

Milestone Students exhibit the ability to hear, connect, empathize with, and engage the different voices and stories that shape diverse human's experiences.. Students investigate the intersectionality of diversity, ecological sustainability, academic endeavor and participatory solutions within their major and intended vocation. Students raise questions about inclusiveness, privilege and oppression in their academic work.

Capstone Students extend their academic inquiry to hear, connect, empathize with and engage the diverse voices and stories that shape experience. Students incorporate an understanding of the impact of privilege and oppression in their academic work. They further evaluate their own assumptions and the assumptions of their field in light of these concerns. Students appreciate the role of diversity in their academic and creative process.

3. Ability to Employ Multiple Modes of Inquiry, Knowing and Expression

Graduates are able to think, read, and write analytically and critically; use academic research methodology; utilize library resources and technical media. Graduates understand and are able to employ the contribution of the arts to human inquiry, knowing and expression.

A. Critical Thinking & Questioning

Introductory Students express the value of critical thinking and questioning the assumptions that are embedded in opinions. Students extract and delineate assumptions from diverse forms of artistic compositions and texts.

Milestone Students systematically address problems using appropriate logic, evidence, and multiple perspectives. They present their arguments and ideas using multiple perspectives, not merely the perspectives with which they agree.

Capstone Students formulate complex arguments grounded in evidence. They present the multiple relevant perspectives, realistically appraise their strengths and weaknesses and explain their choice of methods.

B. Research Skills

Introductory Students locate, evaluate and employ primary and secondary source information from a variety of media, including books, journals, popular media and web sources. Students employ proper attribution in preparing a bibliography.

Milestone Students accurately understand and describe others' research findings by locating these findings within a particular scholarly or creative conversation. They follow the citation rules of their discipline without significant error.

Capstone Students conduct original research within their scholarly and creative field(s) and present the complexity of their findings accurately.

C. Arts, Embodiment, and Aesthetic Perception

Introductory Students understand the notion of "the art of everyday life," through the practices of embodiment and attention to senses and aesthetics. Students begin to develop an appreciation for artistic process and discipline as a way of accessing knowledge and wisdom and as a means of creative expression. Students' effectively receive others' experiences and insights through art.

Milestone Students explore a particular artistic discipline, and employ art as a mode of inquiry. They effectively share their experience and insight with others through their art.

Capstone Students explore ideas and access intuition through their practice of artistic and aesthetic modes of inquiry. Students demonstrate a commitment to a lifelong engagement with the arts. Students (holistically) use sense perceptions, emotions, intellect and intuition to appreciate art work and art making.

D. Written Communication

Introductory Students cultivate a writing practice and demonstrate technical and expressive writing skills as appropriate to particular communication contexts and purposes. They evidence a sense of confidence in writing as a mode of expression through awareness of their own voice and the pleasure of writing.
Milestone Students use and integrate third person and first person modes of writing.

Capstone Students demonstrate familiarity with writing conventions for several genres of academic disciplines such as essays, annotated bibliographies, research reports, narratives and memoirs.

E. Oral Communication

Introductory Students organize and plan an oral presentation based on the informational and other needs of their target audience. They speak clearly, using modulations in tone of voice, gesture and visuals, as appropriate to the message.

Milestone Students demonstrate the qualities of an embodied public speaker, identifying and speaking in their own authentic voice while remaining engaged with their audience and communicating convincingly. They communicate effectively with diverse audiences and for a variety of communication (rhetorical) purposes.

Capstone Students are polished, convincing and engaging public speakers. They communicate in their own voice while employing a variety of techniques for different purposes.

4. Embody Intra- and Inter-personal Capacities

Graduates are able to effectively communicate as individuals and in collaboration with others through empathetic listening and inquiry, embodied deep listening and dialogue, and intercultural competency in diverse groups.

A. Intra-Personal Capacities

Introductory Students identify their own assumptions, values, beliefs, communication styles, narratives and articulate an awareness of their origins.

Milestone Students assess their own core values and beliefs as juxtaposed to a variety of perspectives. Students recognize the learning edge of discomfort in changing or suspending their beliefs.

Capstone Students articulate and evaluate the paradox and complexity of their personal convictions while maintaining flexibility and openness to views different from their own.

B. Inter-personal Capacities

Introductory Students begin to develop teamwork skills, including listening, collaborative thinking, dialogue, and goal setting. Students become aware of the complexity of emotions in interpersonal dynamics, appreciate how their actions affect others, and understand a variety of communication and leadership styles.

Milestone Students become proficient in a specific leadership and communication skill such as Nonviolent Communication, group facilitation, appreciative inquiry, deep listening, collaborative improvisation, dialogue, mediation, debate, group decision-making or consensus.

Capstone Students apply their facilitation and leadership skills in an internship, research project, community project, or academic seminar. Students effectively facilitate discussion and are able to integrate and offer constructive feedback.

5. Demonstrate Knowledge and Skill in a Discipline or Area of Study

Graduates develop a comprehensive understanding of both foundational and advanced concepts and methods in their area of study; build awareness of contemporary issues; and demonstrate the ability to apply, synthesize or create knowledge through a Capstone project or paper.

A. Knowledge & Skill

Introductory Students identify and describe the bodies of knowledge and modes of inquiry associated with a variety of academic disciplines, and interdisciplinarity. They express the relationship of their own interests (e.g., vocational goals) with the disciplines.

Milestone Students demonstrate knowledge of and/or skill in one (or more) disciplines, including awareness of the history and major figures in that discipline, foundational knowledge and perspectives in that discipline, and the ability to effectively use methods of their chosen discipline(s). They analyze and locate themselves in relation to the crucial discourses and debates within their area of study.

Capstone Students prepare Capstone work in their discipline(s) that effectively critiques and integrates the methods and addresses the current issues of the discipline, and evaluate the major issues in the field. They skillfully support claims and use knowledge of the field in a discriminating way. Students authentically and creatively contribute to their chosen field through a Capstone project.

6. Apply Learning in Real World Settings

Graduates are able and inclined to engage real-world challenges and work ethically and effectively across diverse communities.

A. Ethically Engage Real-world Challenges

Introductory Students understand the principles of ethical citizenship through service learning.

Milestone Students identify their interests in matters of civic or ethical concern both in relation to their discipline and in response to real community voice in order to shape co-creative action.

Capstone Students formulate and assess disciplinary, global, or civic concerns of interest to them, and integrate this knowledge into public participation and career-oriented activities.

B. Connection to Vocation and Career Path

Introductory Students identify their own assumptions and aspirations about vocation and service.

Milestone Students demonstrate awareness of the vocational outcomes and professional norms of their selected discipline(s). Students articulate an understanding of the contributions of their selected discipline(s) to the public interest.

Capstone Students are able to network effectively using multiple methods of communication to reach out to potential professional colleagues, employers, or internship sites.