Creative Arts as a Way of Knowing
(the course is offered under the Department of Social Work and Social Administration)
Understanding human existence and the world is broader than scientific comprehension. In every culture and moment of history, expression of the human experience is based as much in literal and verbal discourses as it is in the arts. Visual arts, music, dance, drama, poetry, and literature have always provided imagery to document, explore and understand life. The symbolic and multiple meanings conveyed through both viewing and creating art offers enormous space in which imagination and creativity can be cultivated for knowledge. A guiding question throughout this course is, “How do the creative arts increase our ability to know more about the world, others, and ourselves?” Beginning with the roots of art expression in ritual settings offers an approach to seeing art as innate to the human experience, particularly in bringing order, making meaning and transforming the ordinary. This same urge to create allows us to appreciate the arts for expressing emotion, sharing thoughts, and reflecting on attitudes. As such, the arts serve as a vehicle for enhancing an empathic and intimate understanding of others and oneself. Engaging in creative arts offers unlimited access to unique, non-verbal, and sometimes unconscious content of human experience, thereby promoting world, other and self-understanding.
Contemplative Practices: From Personal Awareness to Social Well-being
Among different cultures, balancing the pursuit of material success and the commitment to a way of living with clarity, kindness and moral standards are important questions for all of us to ask. Contemplative practices, their cultural histories and the scientific evidence are now widely taught to students of varying ages and professions as an attempt to answer such questions.
This course provides an overview of the philosophical and spiritual roots, cultural influences and scientific studies of contemplative practices adopted in modern societies. Beginning with the introduction of the history and theory of contemplative practice and followed by the scientific description of the impact on the mind-body connections developed through these practices, students will be guided to critically review the relationship of contemplative practices with four major themes: personal awareness and health, relational well-being with others, ethical leadership, and the collective well-being in and across our societies. Framing lectures, experiential practice activities, case studies, and reflections in writing and other media will be included throughout the course.
Upon completion of this course, students will acquire the basic knowledge and skills in contemplative practice and develop their competence in examining the interconnected nature of history, culture, and the corresponding responsibility for personal and social well-being for all of us.