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We will look at the key figures who are influential in modern mindfulness, reflect upon the controversies, and critique the public discourse –– such as public policy, social values, and social vision –– that surrounds modern mindfulness.

– Tessa Watt


This PodCourse entitled Mindfulness in the Modern World is taught by Tessa Watt, PhD at SOAS University of London.

In this course we will look at the rise of the modern mindfulness movement from its roots in Buddhist traditions to its role in 21st century public discourse.

This PodCourse focuses specifically on Mindfulness in the Modern World and is divided into three modules:

  1. The Roots of Modern Mindfulness.
  2. Controversies in Modern Mindfulness.
  3. Mindfulness in Public Discourse.

Module 1: The Roots of Modern Mindfulness.

In the first module, we will consider: definitions of modern mindfulness, the difference between mindfulness and meditation, the roots of mindfulness practice in Buddhism, and the key figures and practices of modern mindfulness in therapeutic and clinical settings.

Module 2: Controversies in Modern Mindfulness.

In the second module, we will examine some of the critiques and criticisms that modern mindfulness has encountered during its rise in popularity. We will consider scholarly debates about its definition, whether it is a religion by stealth, the potential dangers and ethical challenges, and its role as a tool for/against capitalism and activism.

Module 3: Mindfulness in Public Discourse.

In the third module, we will consider the suggestion that mindfulness is ‘an essential skill’ that can help with the pressing challenges of our age. We will attempt to answer the important question ‘what is mindfulness for? ‘ to determine whether it assists or impedes social resilience and innovation.

Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes anticipated for this PodCourse are:

  • Understand the roots of modern mindfulness in Buddhist traditions;
  • Identify the key features and practices of modern mindfulness;
  • Recognise and distinguish the important strands and influential figures of the modern mindfulness movement;
  • Recognise and critically evaluate some of the major debates and controversies around mindfulness in the 21st century;
  • Explore the role of mindfulness in public policy, social values and societal vision.

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