With this post we begin an initiative on our UCSD CFM Blog of offering information about how some of our international colleagues are working in the field of mindfulness.
In September 2011, the Faculty of Communication and Journalism at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht embarked on an experiment in interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional education through launching their Mindful Communication minor. While many of our blog posts recently have focused on children and teens, 18 third and fourth-year BA students comprised this group.
Although the study is interesting on many levels, from age of students to results, the topics of the 6 individual courses may well be the aspect that most catches attention and imagination. The four lecturers, Sascha Steinfeldt, Karin Bosveld, Paula Borsboom, and Petra Hubbeling, designed the minor to be 2 blocks of 10 weeks, 7 of which are lesson weeks. MBSR, non-violent communication, and mindful perspectives on sustainability comprised the three courses in the first block. Then followed the second block with business spirituality, business case and coaching & intervision. Within these interdisciplinary and diverse lecture topics, the minor aimed to build competencies such as increased ability to apply knowledge and understanding, integrate multidisciplinary perspectives, and communicate, as well as gain awareness about self and others, increase joy and vitality, and reduce stress.
At the conclusion of the program, all graded the minor 7-10 on a 10 point scale and most said they would recommend the minor to other students. Many students reported increased wisdom and self-knowledge. Students suffering from burnout and rheumatism, and one who reported overwhelming grief over a partner’s death, all reported improvement in health, compassion, and frequency of non-judgmental thoughts. In general, there was an astonishing openness and sense of security and support in the group. Students reported in their reflection reports that they were pleasantly surprised by this openness and the security they felt with both fellow students and lecturers.
All in all, the breadth and results of the program are remarkable and I hope that we will hear more from these educators and researchers in the future.