Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Contemplating Science

I'm at Selkirk College in Castelgar, British Columbia this week, presenting at a conference on contemplative approaches to teaching. The twenty participants cover a broad swath of disciplines from nursing to social work to English to economics — to chemistry. Led by an anthropologist and a writer, we walked this morning to view the river, in full flood surging just below the Mir Center where we are meeting, and in a sun-warmed and still oxbow. It was an eminently practical and graced lead-in to a discussion on ways to help students pay attention to what they are seeing when they do field work (where that is construed very broadly). I did a short demonstration in the lab, looking at specimens of various sorts with the single instruction, spend 5 minutes writing down what you notice.

If you define contemplation as a long loving look at the real, it's hard not to see science as a contemplative endeavor, particularly this sort of data gathering. If you want to hear a bit more about how I see the connections between contemplation, Ignatian spirituality, and science you can listen to me be interviewed by John O'Keefe and Wendy Wright of Creighton University's Center for Catholic Thought on their Catholic Comments podcast here. (The Catholic Comments podcast has some terrific episodes, like this one on Thomas Aquinas in Context by Frederick Bauerschmidt or this one on Denise Levertov's poetry.)


  1. This sounds like much fun. Enjoy!

  2. I feel a sense of contemplation in the studio, considering my materials and how the fit together.