Contemplative Studies Applied Minor (AM)

Contemplative inquiry asks not just what we think, but what thinking itself is: how we come to think, as biological, aesthetic and social beings. It is concerned with conditions and strategies for thinking differently, combining rigorous introspection with rigorous critical investigation of the world as we know it, for the sake of the world we seek.

In learning about and practicing contemplative inquiry, you can:

  • Improve your ability to observe and shape your own learning (metacognition).
  • Grow in your respect for self and others.
  • Entertain worldviews other than your own.
  • Increase your curiosity about the world.

In addition, recent studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness practices can alter brain structure, improve attention and focus, enhance athletic and artistic performance, decrease anxiety and depression, and strengthen self-regulation and resiliency.

Student in meditation

Program details

Contemplative studies necessarily integrates perspectives from a variety of disciplines including neuroscience, religion, music, psychology, theater, visual art, language and philosophy.

Applied minors (AMs) are distinctive programs allowing you to personalize your education and to help you make direct connections between academic interests and co-curricular activities.

Learn more about applied minors.


A total of five courses, including the following course:

  • AWPE 262 Intro to Mindfulness

One of the following courses from visual and performing arts:

  • NOTE: In order for any of the visual and performing arts courses listed below to count toward the IP, you must have first taken AWPE: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). You will apply your training in MBSR towards your artistic activity and engage in a guided journaling activity that will help you reflect on your approach to art, music or theatre arts.
  • ART 200/300 Ceramics I OR II
  • ART 235/335 Photography I OR II
  • ART 205/305 Drawing I OR II
  • ART 210 History of Craft
  • ART 211 20th Century Art
  • MUS 121 Hand Drum Ensemble
  • MUS 124 Batá Drumming
  • MUS 127 Javanese Gamelan Ensemble
  • MUS 220 Orchestra
  • MUS 230 Women’s Chorus
  • MUS 233 Concert Choir
  • THEA 130 Applied Theatre: Acting
  • THEA 230 Applied Theatre: Acting
  • THEA 260 Foundations of Acting
  • THEA 261 Movements for the Stage
  • THEA 360 Acting Styles
  • THEA 386 Devised Theatre

One of the following courses from in psychology OR neuroscience:

  • PSYC 353 Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PSYC 362 Cross-Cultural Psychology
  • PSYC 373 Moral Education
  • PSYC 376 Health Psychology
  • PSYC 377 Positive Psychology

One of the following courses in religion:

  • REL 230 History of African American Religious Experiences
  • REL 299 Religion and Culture of Hip-Hop
  • REL 325 Religion and Psychology: Mapping Selves
  • REL 380 Religions of East Asia: Zen


Co-curricular activity

You will also complete one of the following co-curricular activities:

  • Mindfulness retreat (either three, five OR ten days)
  • Student-faculty research in neuroscience
  • Tibetan Studies off-campus program
  • El Camino May Term
  • Presentation of research at the International Conference on Contemplative Studies


Culminating experience

You will complete one of the following:

  • Paper presentation
  • Artistic project
  • Creative writing project


View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

Our faculty

Our faculty will help you to improve your metacognition, grow in your respect for self and others, become open-minded and foster your curiosity for the world.

Have questions?

Learn more about declaring your interest in an applied minor and find answers to other questions you may not even know you have.

Next steps

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.