Contemplative Institute for Teaching and Learning

Regenerative Practice for Earth, Soul, and Syllabus


How can nature-connection* enhance critical work of sustainability, climate justice, and professional resilience in higher education? How might your relationship with the earth inform your pedagogy and course design within your academic context? What are the practical steps for creating outdoor learning spaces and experiences that strengthen the bond between the human and more-than-human world?

The Contemplative Sciences Center, in partnership with the Center for Teaching Excellence, is hosting our five-day Contemplative Institute for Teaching and Learning: Regenerative Practice for Earth, Soul, and Syllabus. The Institute will be held June 5-9, 2023 at Sevenoaks Retreat Center, a serene sanctuary nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in Madison County, VA, about 80 miles southwest of the Dulles airport. It is open to college instructors from all disciplines, career stages, and backgrounds. 

Our calling for nature-connected experiences in the curriculum is an essential response to the interconnected environmental and mental health crises. This professional development retreat supports and creates community among faculty whose work intersects with environmental issues and/or who seek to integrate nature-connection practices in their teaching and personal lives. It offers an experiential, reflective, and equity-oriented framework to center nature-connection in support of academic learning objectives, the development of human consciousness, and student wellbeing. Institute facilitators bring a deep well of experiences including decades of college teaching, contemplative practice and pedagogy, trauma-therapy, nature play, environmental and social justice education, and embodied critical thinking. 

Participants will experience, develop, and share concrete strategies for integrating nature-connection into the design or re-design of a course or assignment to support embodied critical thinking, foster creative expression, and deepen students’ appreciation for beyond-human environments and one another. In an intimate group of approximately 20 participants, we will explore how our pedagogy can support human and planetary flourishing, enhance our own wellbeing, and engage with pressing issues of our time.

*We use the term “nature-connection” as an imperfect shorthand, acknowledging that the notion of humans standing somehow “outside” of and separate from nature is itself a symptom of a limited consciousness, a forgetting of our interconnection with all things.

Learn more about our past events: 2022 Institute: Exploring Our Edges and 2021 Institute: Building Capacities for Awareness, Connection, and Values-aligned Education.


Review what you can expect to get out of the Institute.

Learn more about applying to the Institute.

Learn more about the facilitators of this week-long Institute.

Dorothe Bach's headshot'

Dorothe Bach

she/her Associate Director & Professor