Contemplative Pedagogy: Stimulating Mindfulness and Inquiry Through Meditation

Bradford C. Grant, m.arch, aia

April 16, 2014


When he was a child, Bradford Grant wanted to become an architect because he saw his community as it could be and wanted to make it a better place. He recalls thinking, "If there were more parks in our community, maybe the community would be better and my friends could get together…Maybe I could become an architect and have some effect on how communities are designed." Today—as a Professor of Architecture—Professor Grant teaches colleagues and students to see the world in fresh ways and to change it for the better. Although he does so using the architectural skills he acquired at California Polytechnic State University and the University of California at Berkeley, he also employs "contemplative pedagogy." Thus, he teaches drawing as a form of meditation and incorporates other contemplative practices into design education to stimulate mindful learning. As a result of his dedication to contemplative pedagogy, he has won a Contemplative Practice fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and now serves on its board. As a member of the board, Professor Grant promotes the Center's initiatives "to cultivate a deep personal and social awareness in order to stimulate inquiry into what is most meaningful to us as interconnected human beings" and "to recast the traditional foundations for education into a truly integrative, transformative, and communal enterprise that is wholly open and inclusive of all backgrounds and that cultivates each person in the fullest possible way."

Professor Grant's contemplative pedagogy and design expertise have earned him numerous awards, including the Universal Design Education Award from Adaptive Environments and the Education Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. His own meditative practices have also helped him design community spaces throughout Virginia that improve the accessibility, health, and well-being of the residents. At the same time, he has served as "an advisor, mentor, pioneer, motivator and devout supporter" of the National Organization of Minority Architects, helping African American students of all ages to envision architecture as an opportunity to find personal meaning and serve the community. Therefore, in his video Professor Grant helps faculty see the possibilities that meditation can open up for them, as well as their students, in the classroom.

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