With the approval from the Georgia Department of Corrections and the IRB (Institutional Review Board) at Life University, the Chillon Project has a unique opportunity to conduct research within the prison setting. Along with the IRB approved research study, we have been working on an extensive literature review focused around higher education in prisons. This is a working document constantly being updated and revised. We hope with this open-sourced literature review, the research around higher education in prison will start to become more robust. If you are aware of further research on this subject matter that is not included, please send the information via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Review of the Literature on Higher Education and Contemplative Interventions in Prisons
Ozawa-de Silva, B. (2016)). Contemplative Science and Secular Ethics. Religions, 7(8): 98
This article argues that the emerging project of contemplative science will be best served if it is informed by two perspectives. First, attention should be paid not only to non-analytical and/or mindfulness-based practices, but to a fuller range of contemplative practices, including analytical styles of meditation. Second, the issue of ethics must be addressed as a framework within which to understand contemplative practice: both theoretically in order to understand better the practices themselves and the traditions they come from, and practically in order to understand the ways in which contemplative practices are deployed in contemporary societies. The Tibetan Buddhist Lojong (blo sbyong) tradition and secularized practices derived from it, which are now an area of study in contemplative science, are examined as a kind of case study in order to make these two points and illustrate their importance and relevance for the future of this emerging field.
Sheethal D. Reddy, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Steve P. Cole, Charles L. Raison, Linda W. Craighead, (2013). Cognitively-Based Compassion Training: A Promising Prevention Strategy for At-Risk Adolescents. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22: 219–230
In this study, youth in foster care were offered Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT) as a strategy to improve psychosocial functioning following exceptionally high rates of maltreatment. Participants reported specific instances of using CBCT strategies to regulate emotion, manage stress, or to respond more compassionately towards others. Standardized self-report measures were not sensitive to qualitative reports of improved functioning, suggesting the need for measures more sensitive to the positive changes noted or longer training periods to demonstrate effects. Practical issues surrounding implementation of such programs in high-risk youth populations are identified. Recommendations are provided for further development.
Thaddeus W.W. Pace, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, Sheethal D. Reddy, Steven P. Cole, Andrea Danese, Linda W. Craighead, Charles L. Raison (2013) Engagement with Cognitively-Based Compassion Training is associated with reduced salivary C-reactive protein from before to after training in foster care program adolescents, Psychoneuroendocrinology 38: 294—299
Youth exposed to early life adversity have been shown to have elevated levels of circulating inflammatory markers that persist into adulthood. In this study, a compassion meditation protocol, Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT) was taught to youth in foster care to investigate the effect of meditation practice on levels of inflammatory marker C-Reactive Protein (CRP). While no significant differences emerged between the CBCT and control groups, within the CBCT practice group, youth who reported more meditation practice time demonstrated lower levels of CRP, suggesting that engagement with CBCT may positively impact inflammatory measures relevant to health in adolescents at high risk for poor adult functioning as a result of significant early life adversity. Longer term follow-up will be required to evaluate if these changes are maintained and translate into improved health outcomes.
Thomas V. Flores, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, Caroline Murphy (2014) Peace Studies and the Dalai Lama’s Approach of Secular Ethics: Towards a Positive, Multidimensional Model of Health and Flourishing, Journal of Healthcare, Science and Humanities Vol IV, Number 2
This article is part of a larger project that synthesizes research from diverse disciplines to develop a multidimensional model of positive health that includes physical, emotional, intellectual, social, environmental, and spiritual health. Informed by the approach of “secular ethics” promoted by the present Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso, it examines the often neglected social and spiritual dimensions of health through the lens of research in peace studies, conflict resolution studies, conflict transformation studies, peace education, and development education. Drawing connections between these areas of research and secular ethics reveals that social health is an underlying concern of peace studies and related disciplines; that spiritual health is a central concern for secular ethics; and that these two dimensions of health—social and spiritual—are highly interdependent. The contribution of social and spiritual health to other dimensions of health—physical, intellectual, emotional and environmental—can then be understood more clearly. Since a lack of social and spiritual health in a society can give rises to physical and mental health threats, peacebuilding, peace education and development education—as tools for the enhancement of social and spiritual health—should be considered an essential part of a holistic healthcare strategy.
Murphy, C., & Ozawa-de Silva, B. (2014). Towards Compassionate Global Citizenship: Educating the Heart through Development Education and Cognitively-Based Compassion Training. Policy & Practice-A Development Education Review, (19).
The authors present an argument for developing emotional literacy which can be applied to critical development education to bring about active citizens who have capacity to take compassionate action for global justice. It is argued that both emotional skills and critical thinking skills are mutually essential, and in fact it is only by cultivating a symbiosis between these, can pedagogy be developed that presents a true transformational agency to people. The paper attempts to synthesise development education (DE) with Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), and argues that these are potentially compatible to acquire such pedagogy. While DE can provide individuals with the skills to think critically and react to injustice, CBCT can provide the skills and emotional capacity to intervene for change, without giving in to despair, anger, or burnout. In short, it is argued that DE and CBCT can provide the emotional and intellectual skills necessary for productive social activism and change.
Throughout this article it is highlighted how the international development organisation, Children in Crossfire (CIC), has been grappling with the above mentioned and related disciplines, and how it has been working, in partnership with researchers from Emory University and Life University’s Center for Compassion and Secular Ethics, to evolve its DE teacher training practice, Teachers in Development and Learning (TIDAL), towards such a transformative pedagogy, entitled ‘Educating the Heart for Compassionate Global Citizenship’.
Ozawa‐de Silva, C., & Ozawa-de Silva, B. (2010). Secularizing religious practices: A study of subjectivity and existential transformation in Naikan therapy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49(1), 147-161.
Adapted from a Shin Buddhist style of meditation, Naikan (“inner-looking”) is a week-long contemplative practice that involves reviewing one’s life from the perspectives of others and has been called an indigenous Japanese psychotherapy due to its effectiveness in treating a variety of disorders. Data collected during an extended ethnographic study of Naikan in both Japan and Austria reveal that Naikan, a “secularized” practice that removes overtly Buddhist references and practices, effects changes in clients’ subjectivity that are strikingly similar to those sought after in Buddhist traditions. This suggests that Naikan operates therapeutically on an existential level and employs cognitive techniques that, while originating in Buddhism, remain efficacious outside a Buddhist context. The potential for certain contemplative practices to effect transformations of subjectivity across religious and cultural contexts may be greater than commonly assumed.
Ozawa-de Silva, B. R., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Raison, C. L., Negi, L. T., Silva, B. R. O., & Phil, D. (2012). Compassion and ethics: scientific and practical approaches to the cultivation of compassion as a foundation for ethical subjectivity and well-being. J. Healthcare Sci. Hum, 2, 145-161.
Recent years have seen a rapid growth in interest in the study of meditation and its health benefits, attention now broadening beyond simple relaxation techniques to other forms of meditation that involve the cultivation of positive mental states and emotions such as compassion. The scientific study of compassion suggests that compassion may be of crucial importance for our individual physical and psychological health. Moreover, because compassion relates fundamentally to how we as human beings relate to one another, its cultivation entails an ethical dimension that may be just as important as the medical and psychological dimension. In this article we supplement the emerging scientific literature on compassion by laying out a case for understanding compassion as a moral emotion intimately tied to the question of ethics and the cultivation of ethical sensibility. Second, we examine the individual and social benefits of compassion that support such a view. Thirdly, we describe in detail one method for the cultivation of compassion: Cognitively- Based Compassion Training (CBCT). We conclude by presenting current research programs employing CBCT and point to possible future directions in the study of compassion and its cultivation.