A renowned Tibetan Buddhist, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founded Naropa University in 1974.
His vision was to take the very best elements of western scholarship and combine them with an emphasis on eastern wisdom tradition to reinvent education in the United States.
Eastern Wisdom and Buddhism is expressed at Naropa today as Contemplative Education.
Contemplative Education combines three educational pedagogies - Traditional Academics, Experiential Learning, and Contemplative Practice - to form a unique and innovative approach to higher education that truly does take the best of western scholarship with the best of eastern wisdom.
The two "western" pedagogies; Traditional Academics and Experiential Learning
as well as the more traditionally eastern pedagogy of Contemplation Practice are expressed as the "three areas of inquiry," which are, in turn, rooted in the Three Prajnas of Buddhism, or the three ways of knowing: study, reflection, and meditation.
The fields of study we offer reflect this combination of East and West and are an expression of our mission and values.
Our focus is on psychology, education, leadership, religious studies and the arts. Naropa is committed to inspiring students to engage courageously with a complex and challenging world and innovate, lead, create and serve.
Inspired by the rich intellectual and experiential traditions of East and West, Naropa University is North America's leading institution of contemplative education.
Naropa recognizes the inherent goodness and wisdom of each human being.
It educates the whole person, cultivating academic excellence and contemplative insight in order to infuse knowledge with wisdom. The university nurtures in its students a lifelong joy in learning, a critical intellect, the sense of purpose that accompanies compassionate service to the world, and the openness and equanimity that arise from authentic insight and self-understanding. Ultimately, Naropa students explore the inner resources needed to engage courageously with a complex and challenging world, to help transform that world through skill and compassion, and to attain deeper levels of happiness and meaning in their lives.
Drawing on the vital insights of the world's wisdom traditions, the university is simultaneously Buddhist-inspired, ecumenical and nonsectarian.
Naropa values ethnic and cultural differences for their essential role in education. It embraces the richness of human diversity with the aim of fostering a more just and equitable society and an expanded awareness of our common humanity.
A Naropa education - reflecting the interplay of discipline and delight prepares its graduates both to meet the world as it is and to change it for the better.
Commitment to Diversity at Naropa
Our commitment to diversity aligns with our highest aspirations to apply contemplative inquiry and education to explore and embody the human qualities that will facilitate collaboration by differences
Naropa University draws on the vital insights of the world's wisdom traditions and is simultaneously Buddhist-inspired, ecumenical, and nonsectarian.
A commitment to diversity flows from these overarching values and is carried forward throughout the institution, informing and enriching education.
Our founding vision is to create a welcoming environment that promotes honest, respectful and provocative inter-cultural dialogue and debate.
Naropa believes that inequalities must be acknowledged at Naropa and in the larger world beyond the University.
We believe that our community is enriched by a variety of life experiences that can enrich the whole.
Through our admissions policies, hiring practices, teaching, and more, we strive to offer an environment that focuses on belonging with differences. These policies are given life through the active inclusion of persons representing a variety of groups defined by race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, diversity of thought, socioeconomic background, age, disability, national origin, and religion, among others.
Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Tommy Lee Woon
Tommy Lee Woon joined Naropa in August 2014 as the university's first Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is housed in the President's Office.
The Director of Diversity and Inclusion works across the spectrum
with students, faculty, and staff, serves on the presidents cabinet, and advises in all areas where diversity and inclusion are of concern, including enrollment, recruitment of staff and faculty, on-campus cultural issues, and Naropa's connection to the greater Boulder-Denver community.
Naropa was founded on the idea that combining the best of Western scholarship with Eastern wisdom traditions could offer a more robust and holistic educational experience.
Building, refining, and proliferating this unconventional approach to teaching is Naropa's purpose. Central to that approach is our exploration of the body, heart, and consciousness through contemplative practice.
Rabbi Zvi Ish-Shalom
professor of Religious Studies explains, "At Naropa, we are not just imparting information. We are teaching how to cultivate wisdom. And true wisdom is discovered in the 'not-knowing,' in the paradoxes, in the mysterious depths of our Being. When this kind of openness to the mystery is integrated with the body, the mind, and the heart, then our wisdom can be expressed more authentically in the world. This is the whole point of a Naropa University education."
Authentic expression of contemplative practice
as an aspect of contemplative education, is demonstrated by our students' willingness and ability to put wisdom and insight into practice, in service to the greater good. Many of Naropa's graduates display this characteristic in their work within a variety of fields.
The heart of Naropa University is contemplative educationa philosophy that asks each community member to live with awareness and respect for one another and the world. Sustainable practices are an essential part of this mission. Viewed through the lens of contemplative education, sustainability is not just a theory, but the root of all healthy action. Becoming aware of how one relates to others and the world is one aspect of a contemplative life. Through the cultivation of awareness, one learns to walk lightly on the earth. At Naropa, we view the practice of sustainability as essential to the current and future needs of this planet and its inhabitants through the acknowledgement of the deep interrelationship between all beings and phenomena. Attention to the nature of complex living systems is the ground of an authentic path that can assure the Earth's viability as a home for future generations. This commitment goes beyond specific environmental objectives; the practice of sustainability cuts across all disciplines and fields of study, in that it envisions, and moves us toward, a society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. All Naropa community members bring their awareness and wisdom to this ongoing effort, ensuring that Naropa University continues to lead the way in campus sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Energy and Climate
President's Climate Commitment
In the summer of 2007 Naropa committed to sharply reducing and eventually eliminating all of the university's global warming emissions by signing the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, joining the leaders of more than four hundred other institutions across the country.
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment. It is a calculation of the volume of greenhouse gases produced by a given institution or individual and is measured in units of carbon dioxide. If an institution or individual does not create a Carbon Footprint, then he or she or it is considered to be climate neutral. At Naropa University we are committed to reducing our own Carbon Footprint and eventually becoming Climate Neutral.
"Inspired by the UN Brundtland Report's definition of sustainable development, we define sustainability in education as education for a lifestyle that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations of all species to meet their needs. (In this, we note the difference between 'needs' and 'desires.') In accordance with the Naropa University Mission Statement, using contemplative, intellectual, and practical methods, faculty help students gain the necessary inner and outer tools and perspectives to engage courageously and compassionately with a complex and changing world. We aspire to teach students across all disciplines to engender a restorative, regenerative, and healthy approach to relationships between humans and the rest of the living, natural world. Our ultimate goal is the co-creation of a just, sacred, and sustainable society." - Naropa University Faculty Teaching and Learning Commitment
Naropa University is committed to developing sustainability not only in terms of a greener campus, but also in our teaching and learning.
The faculty of Naropa University aspires to lead in sustainability education as a key element of training future generations. Our vision is to define sustainability in a contemplative context, including both its inner and outer aspects. In alignment with Naropa University's agreement to participate in the Presidents' Climate Commitment, we recognize the vital need to think about sustainability in a systemic way. Joining with other eco-visionary institutions, we seek to continuously educate ourselves and update our understanding of best practices in sustainability.
Environmentally Focused Programs
BA Environmental Studies
MA Environmental Leadership
MA Transpersonal Ecopsychology
MA Wilderness Therapy
During fall 2012 semester, Naropa's faculty senate, Cauldron, approved the inclusion of sustainability in Naropa's curricular arc. The outcomes are as follows:
Skillfulness in Addressing Diversity and Ecological Sustainability
Graduates are able to think critically and analytically about social and cultural diversity; they recognize the interconnectedness of the human community to ecological sustainability and cultivate sustainable practices.
Ecological Relationships and Sustainability Awareness
Students demonstrate an understanding of principles of ecological interrelationships, including living systems, complexity and interdependence. They appreciate the need to live with awareness and respect for one's self, the earth and its inhabitants, human and nonhuman. Students understand the dynamics and significance of the ecological crisis and what is meant by different kinds of sustainability.
Students express connections between their academic work and personal, global, and local sustainability. They understand sustainability as an expression of appreciation for the sacredness of the earth and contemplative principles in action.
Students integrate and apply a high level of understanding of different kinds of sustainability into their academic work, creative expression and community service.
Diversity and Systems of Privilege and Oppression
Students express personal beliefs and assumptions and explain systems of privilege and oppression at the local, national and global levels. They interpret the intersectionality of identifiers such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, ability, and socioeconomic class and how they shape individual and collective identities.
Students exhibit the ability to hear, connect, empathize with, and engage the different voices and stories that shape diverse human's experiences.. Students investigate the intersectionality of diversity, ecological sustainability, academic endeavor and participatory solutions within their major and intended vocation. Students raise questions about inclusiveness, privilege and oppression in their academic work.
Students extend their academic inquiry to hear, connect, empathize with and engage the diverse voices and stories that shape experience. Students incorporate an understanding of the impact of privilege and oppression in their academic work. They further evaluate their own assumptions and the assumptions of their field in light of these concerns. Students appreciate the role of diversity in their academic and creative process.
Recycling & Zero Waste
Naropa University's Zero Waste goal is to mindfully support the university in being a sustainable system where resources are fully used and waste is reduced to a minimum.
Establishment of the recycling and composting program
Development of a partnership with Eco-Cycle
Use of bins in classrooms
Implementation of a composting initiative
Expansion and improvement of current infrastructure
Naropa University housing fitted with paper and container bins and infrastructure set up in building
In the Last Year
Bathroom paper towels are being composted
Household battery recycling receptacles can be found on all campuses
The recyclying infrastructure has doubled
The composting system has been expanded tenfold
The Naropa Café is composting all food scraps
Weekly trash audits are conducted on all campuses to assess potential waste reduction
Zero Waste Competency Project
Naropa Café aiming for Zero Waste
Reduce landfill waste by diverting it through recycling and composting
Working toward a sustainable library
Further outreach and education on the benefits of recycling and conscious conservation
Grounds and Landscaping
For more than twenty years, Naropa University landscapers have used environmentally sound practices, creating a campus that is a model of efficiency. A xeriscape demonstration garden is being planned for the front of the Nalanda Campus. Always innovative and seeking to improve, Naropa University currently uses the following approaches to eco landscaping:
Composting all plant material
Using products that are biodegradable and/or organic
Actively working to improve water conservation by upgrading and modifying existing irrigation systems.
Incorporating new technology at the Paramita Campus
such as subsurface irrigation linked to an on-site weather station that supplies water to the lawn and gardens only in the proper quantities and only at the proper times. By delivering water directly to the root zone, evaporation is all but eliminated. In what is known as "fertigation," organic liquid fertilizers also flow through the irrigation system, delivering minute and constant levels of fertilizer throughout the growing season, which improves plant health and reduces maintenance.
Phasing out the use of fossil fuel equipment by purchasing electric mowers and trimmers, as well as through the use of biodiesel for the maintenance truck and bobcat.
Recognizing the positive ecological, physical and economic benefits of alternative transportation, Naropa University provides all students and staff with an RTD Eco Pass, which offers free access to local and regional RTD buses. Naropa University also gives Naropa community members and visitors access to Naropa's bike fleet.
Naropa's Bike Shop
At present, Naropa has 30 bicycles that students have access to for free. Bicycles can be checked out for a week at a time and are maintained by Naropa's Bike Shop. Naropa also has an Earn-A-Bike program in which after fifteen hours of service learning, one can build and keep a bike.
Carpooling & Permit Sharing
Naropa University community members are encouraged to share the cost of a semester permit with one or more carpool partners. This saves money and uses one parking spot: a win-win situation.
Boulder Car Share
This program offers membership to individuals who would prefer not to own their own vehicle. Members have access to a rental car for $1/hour and 50¢/mile. Naropa students and staff receive a discount on the sign-up fee through Boulder Car Share. There is currently a Honda Insight located on the Arapahoe Campus and a Saturn four-door station wagon on the Paramita Campus. Boulder Car Share members enjoy free VIP parking on the 2130 Arapahoe Campus, located just south of the Sycamore building.
Campus Sustainability Day
On Campus Sustainability Day, we look at sustainability in our personal lives and on campus. We also celebrate with live music and organic food from local farms and businesses. This is an event that touches on questions at the heart of the matter and opens up space for attendees to share and communicate their thoughts and feelings around the topic of sustainability.
Naropa University recognizes Earth Day as a time to celebrate the interconnectedness of all beings, a time to unite in conscious awareness of the actions we can take to live sustainably. It is also a time to extend deep gratitude for each other and the web of life on planet Earth. Check Naropa's schedule of Earth Day events held each year in mid-April.
Environmental Speakers Series
The Environmental Studies Department hosts locally and nationally known speakers on a variety of interesting topics. Recent guests have included such environmentalists as Patagonia CEO and COO Rose Marcario, and eco-philosopher Joanna Macy.
Naropa cosponsors the annual Bioneers satellite event at the University of Colorado, Boulder, each October. Bioneers provides assemblies to promote connections between human health and environmental health in order to strengthen communities and lessen our environmental impact.
Naropa University is committed to investing our endowment assets in a manner consistent with the Buddhist precept of "not causing harm." Thus, the Naropa University Endowment strives to, on a best efforts basis, avoid investment in primary manufacturers of weapons systems, tobacco, alcohol, or gambling products, as well as companies with egregious records of environmental damage, discriminatory behavior, or poor employee relations. Additionally, we strongly encourage investment in corporations actively providing solutions to social and environmental problems.
In the fall of 2013, after a presentation to the board of trustees by a group of environmentally conscious students, Naropa University fully divested its holdings in companies identified as having the highest potential greenhouse gas emissions in Fall 2013. The full range of these actions included freezing any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years. Naropa's Board of Trustees concluded that the divestment would not threaten the stability of the stock portfolio. In reaching the decision to divest, Naropa's Endowment Committee took a values-centered approach to investing which created a clear context for the decision. Naropa's portfolio at the time of divestment was approximately $6.25 million, and the total amount divested was more than $104,000. The decision places Naropa among a dozen colleges and Universities in the United States that are leading the charge toward more environmentally responsible investing.
Naropa created an open and collaborative structure that actively sought out and included perspectives and input from all stakeholders, and held a series of candid conversations among students, Trustees, faculty, and staff. Naropa University has a longstanding, public commitment to sharply reducing and eventually eliminating all of the University's global warming-causing emissions. Naropa is a signatory to the American College & University President's Climate Commitment, which has been signed by more than 400 colleges and universities nation-wide. Naropa University was cited by US News & World Report as one of the "Eight Greenest Colleges in the Country" in recognition of its efforts to promote and utilize renewable energy, its divestment, and other factors.
Naropa offers a BA degree in Environmental Studies and MA degrees in Environmental Leadership, Transpersonal Ecopsychology, and Wilderness Therapy.
Naropa University was first accredited in 1986, and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) re-affirmed Naropa University's accreditation in September 2010, following a self-study and comprehensive review by a national team of evaluators who certified that Naropa is meeting standards for quality and accountability. Naropa University is currently preparing a self-study report to demonstrate that Naropa continues to maintain the high educational standards set by the Higher Learning Commission. The self-study process provides an invaluable opportunity to examine institutional practices while citing examples of excellence, the challenges ahead, and action steps leading to improvement. The current self-study, which will be submitted to the HLC in December 2014, will provide a review of Naropa's commitment to the following areas:
Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
In compiling the 2015 self-study, Naropa is committed to an inclusive, transparent process facilitated by communications among faculty, staff, students, stakeholders, and the publicin person, in print, and via the Web. Naropa strongly encourages interested parties to attend working sessions to offer suggestions and provide comments.
FAQs About Accreditation
What is accreditation?
Accreditation is the process by which an outside review body certifies a college or university as meeting certain educational standards. Accreditation is an important "stamp of approval." Accredited colleges and universities have proven that they are committed to educational quality and improvement.
What is the Higher Learning Commission?
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation which accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions.
Has Naropa undergone accreditation before?
Yes. Naropa University was first accredited in 1986 by the North Central Association and has been continually accredited since that time. Most recently, in 2010, Naropa's accreditation was reaffirmed by the Higher Learning Commission.
I know that Naropa is undergoing a self-study as part of the accreditation process. What does this self-study involve?
The self-study is a process during which faculty, students, staff, and the larger community take a close look at the entire university, documenting its strengths and its opportunities in a written report. Before the writing begins, self-study team members attend campus meetings, interview people, collect research and data, and review important documents. The self-study is a unique opportunity for the university to take stock of itself - celebrating its successes and discovering areas for continued improvement.
Does this self-study affect the entire university?
Yes! All aspects of the university are represented in the self-study. Although different programs and departments may have their own self review and accreditation cycles, this accreditation process is for the entire University.
Why is attending an accredited college or university important?
There are many good reasons to attend an accredited institution. Here are a few of them: Quality Education - Accredited colleges and universities deliver high quality educational programs. Financial Aid - Accredited schools receive student financial aid dollars. Transfer - Most schools will only accept transfer credits from an accredited school. Graduate School - Most graduate programs will only accept students with degrees from accredited schools.
When does Naropa submit its official self study report?
The report will be finished, and submitted to the HLC in December, 2014.
An accreditation team will visit Naropa in March 2015. What happens during that visit?
During this visit, a team of evaluators representing the HLC - all of whom are affiliated with an accredited college or university-will interview students, faculty, and staff; read and review documents and data; and tour the campuses. The purpose of the visit is to validate the evidence and examples contained in the written report and to make recommendations to the HLC concerning continued accreditation.
When will Naropa be notified that re-accreditation has been approved by HLC?
We should hear back no later than the fall of 2015.
How can I get more involved?
The self-study process is meant to reflect the opinions, values, and experiences of all community members including students, faculty and staff. In the fall of 2014, a final draft of the self-study report will be available to staff, faculty, and students through MyNaropa. We encourage you to read this draft and to provide feedback. You can also attend upcoming Town Halls about the reaffirmation of accreditation. One is scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, 2015. For more information, please contact: Janine Ibbotson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Self-Study Overview
Naropa University is undertaking a self-study with broad participation from across the university community in order to reaffirm its accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission.
The self-study has been guided by the five Criteria for Accreditation as established by the Higher Learning Commission: Mission; Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct; Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support; Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement; Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness.
Major Components of the Self Study
Appointment of Steering Committee members: In Spring 2013, representatives from around the university were invited to join the self-study steering committee. Subcommittee Chairs were invited to lead the research and writing of individual criteria and to invite other team members to assist with this effort.
Subcommittee Chairs invited members to join their teams as active participants or consulting members. The committee members were selected based on their expertise, interdisciplinary focus, and ability to represent Naropa's programs and policies.
Criterion One: Mission
The institution's mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution's operations. Chair: Deborah Bowman. Committee Members: Marty Janowitz, Judith Simmer-Brown, and Reed Bye
Criterion Two: Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible. Chair: Joy Valania. Committee Members: Bob Cillo, Angie Gossett, and Danielle Poitras.
Criterion Three: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered. Chairs: Janet Cramer, Carole Clements, Barbara Catbagan, Christine Caldwell, Cheryl Barbour. Committee Members: Susan Martich, Jirka Hladis, Ted Lamb, Jeremy Lowry, Carol Frederick, Don Matthews, Sarah Harding, Matt Peterson, Lia Barnes, Bob Cillo, Lily Board, Amy Munger, Sarah Steward and the Student Affairs staff.
Criterion Four: Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement. Chairs: Ted Lamb, Cheryl Barbour, Christine Caldwell, Janet Cramer. Committee Members: Jeremy Lowry, Elaine Yuen, Lynn DiLorenzo, Mari Dark, Carole Clements, Lia Barnes, Susan Martich, Michael Franklin, Wendy Allen, Nancy Morrell, Sarah Steward, Melissa Holland, Bob Cillo, and Lily Board.
Criterion Five: Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
The institution's resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future. Chairs: Todd Kilburn, Deb Piranian, Joy Valania. Committee Members: Dave Edminster, Aaron Cook, Angie Gossett, Patti Warren, John Cobb, Mark Miller, Seann Goodman, Mari Golan, Ted Lamb, and Judith Sumner.
Internal Awareness Collateral
Spring - 2013
Coordinators confirm date of campus visit, Self-study coordinators complete self-study plan and timeline, Steering Committee forms and kick-off meeting held.
Fall - 2013
Subcommittee Chairs recruit consulting team members, Steering Committee meets, Formal campus launch of HLC accreditation with Provost and Steering Committee, Communications plan for self-study process developed, MyNaropa Accreditation tab created with interviews and FAQs, Self-study teams conduct research and begin writing on assigned areas.
Spring - 2014
Subcommittee chairs prepare initial drafts of assigned sections of self-study, Steering team members participate in HLC self-study workshop during HLC annual meeting in Chicago, First draft of self-study assembled by writing team, Self-study submitted to HLC consultant for feedback, Town Hall meeting held to gather community input.
Summer - 2014
Internal community review, Additional data collected and self-study writing continues.
Fall - 2014
Writing team completes penultimate draft of self-study, Town Hall meeting to share information and gather community input, Self-study submitted to HLC consultant for feedback, Internal community review of penultimate draft, Writing team outlines responses to issues noted in previous team report, Approval of institution's response to issues noted in previous team report, Communication plan for self-study process enhanced, Coordinators receive final list of HLC team members; list is shared with campus community, Writing team prepares final version of report by Oct. 24, Draft of self-study report made available to campus community for comment and suggestions during October and November, Coordinators communicate with HLC team chair regarding campus visit plans, Hosting team formed, Steering committee meets to plan campus visit, Graphic layout and proofreading, In December, self-study report prepared and sent, with supporting documents, to HLC and visiting team
Spring - 2015
In February, executive summary of self-study made available, Town Hall meeting to share information and communication about site visit, Campus preparation for site visit, Resource room established and organized, Team work room established, Campus visit, March 9 - 11
Summer - 2015
President receives draft of team report from HLC and responds with any corrections of fact, President selects panel to review team report and recommendations
Fall - 2015
President receives final commission action and recommendation, Commission actions communicated to campus community and stakeholders
Call for Public Comments
Naropa University has been accredited since 1986. In March 2015, Naropa University will undergo a comprehensive evaluation visit by a team of reviewers from the Higher Learning Commission. As part of that review process, the Higher Learning Commission is seeking comments from the public about the university. The public is invited to submit comments to the following address:
Third-Party Comment on Naropa University
The Higher Learning Commission, 230 North LaSalle St., Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604-1411.
The fields of study we offer reflect this combination of East and West and are an expression of our mission and values. Our focus is on psychology, education, leadership, religious studies and the arts. Naropa is committed to inspiring students to engage courageously with a complex and challenging world and innovate, lead, create and serve.