University Logos - University of Virginia - James Madison University - Mary Baldwin University - University of Nevada, Reno - Mount St. Mary's University
2020 Contemplative Practices for Higher Education Conference -   March 5-7, 2020 - The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center - Roanoke, Virginia
2020 Contemplative Practices for Higher Education Conference -   March 5-7, 2020 - The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center - Roanoke, Virginia



Download a Short Program with Conference Schedule here:
CP2020-ShortProgram-Schedule.pdf (650KB)

Download the Full Conference Program here:
CP2020-FullProgram.pdf (1.3MB)

Conference Schedule at a Glance

Thursday Night

  • 5:30 - 7:30 - Registration Open
  • 7:00 pm Concert - Carrie Newcomer *
    *Concert included with full registration


  • 7:30 - 9:00 - Registration Open
    • Morning Contemplative Practices
    • Continental Breakfast
    • Welcome
  • 9:00 - 10:00 - Morning Keynote - Mitchell Ratner

    Whole-Hearted Practice: Embracing Our Lives and All of Life
    The path of mindfulness is guided by teachings and practices that nourish awareness and lead to inner stillness. From this place of stillness, we are better able to acknowledge the realities of our life, and better able to respond wisely and lovingly. In my talk I will share personal stories and practices related to four of the many stepping stones or realizations encountered along the way:

    • The mind can be trained.
    • The heart can be opened.
    • Fears can be alleviated.
    • The intrinsic essence of life can be glimpsed.

    A whole-hearted practice is intertwined with every aspect of our lives. The practice encourages a fuller engagement with our relationships, work, aspirations, and projects. At the same time, the joys and challenges of our engagements nourish and deepen our practice.

  • 10:00 - 10:20 - Break
  • AM Breakout sessions (for details see: cp-schedule.pdf)
    • 10:20 - 11:05 Session 1
    • 11:15 - 12:00 Session 2
    • 10:20 – 12:00 Mini-Retreat with Carrie Newcomer

      Our Lives as Sacred Story: Hope In The Beautiful Not Yet
      When we frame our individual and community stories through a spiritual lens, it changes how we see ourselves and the world. This workshop explores how our own spiritual stories help us maintain hope and the ability to envision during times of uncertainty or challenge. This workshop explores paying attention and honoring our daily experiences. It will also explore the stories we choose to tell ourselves as individuals and as a community. Carrie will use conversation, exploratory writing, poetry, music, group and individual experiences. This mini-retreat will be conducted in a safe and welcoming atmosphere, welcoming those who have had previous experience in writing, songwriting or creative expression, as well as those who are interested in exploring new ways to envision their stories through a new, creative and spiritual lens.

  • 12:00 - 1:00 - Lunch
  • 1:00 - 1:50 - Afternoon contemplative practice and Poster session
  • 1:00 - 2:30 - Mini-Retreat with Carrie Newcomer

    Telling Our Story in Song: A Community Songwriting Experience
    In this fast paced and engaging mini-retreat Carrie will invite participants to explore a topic creatively through the use of song. She will lead the group through the process of choosing a topic, creating the language, moving the language into music form, and by the end of the workshop have a finished song the group can sing together. This workshop requires absolutely no musical experience. In a conference setting this experience is a wonderful way to creatively embody the stories, ideas and themes being discussed during the conference. This is a fast paced, guaranteed to make you smile experience, presented in a safe and welcoming atmosphere. Carrie will create a very simple MP3 version and a lyric/chord sheet of the song after the experience and send to group leader for distributing to participants.

  • 1:00 - 2:30 - Mini-Retreat with Mitchell Ratner

    Recognizing Our True Nature: The Three Touchings of the Earth
    In this workshop participants will learn about and practice Thich Nhat Hanh's Three Touchings of the Earth, which are guided meditations done in a posture of surrender. They help us let go of our notions and more directly experience our oneness with our ancestors and our descendants, with all that lives on our planet, and with the unfolding of the universe. In Beyond the Self Thich Nhat Hanh writes: "Touching the Earth is an easy and effective way to touch our ultimate dimension. If you do this practice, one day you will touch your true nature of no birth and no death. At that time, you will be liberated from fear. You can become someone who rides majestically on the waves of birth and death because you are no longer agitated by fear or anger."

  • PM Breakout sessions (for details see: cp-schedule.pdf)
    • 2:00 - 2:45 Session 3
    • 2:55 - 3:40 Session 4
  • 3:40 - 4:00 - Break
  • 4:00 - 5:00 - Afternoon Keynote - Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Plews-Ogan

    Wisdom Through Adversity: Navigating The Waters Of Difficult Circumstance
    What is wisdom? What is the relationship between wisdom and adversity? (Is it really true that what doesn't kill you can make you wiser?) What does the path through adversity to wisdom look like and what can help people to have the best possible chance for responding in a wisdom-generating way to the challenging circumstances they face? Using Charlottesville 2017 as a case study Dr. Plews-Ogan will explore these questions.

  • 5:00 - 5:30 - Closing
  • 5:30 - 7:30 - Networking session (cash bar)


  • 7:30 - 9:00 - Registration Open
    • Continental breakfast
    • Welcome and introduction
  • 9:00 - 12:00 - Workshop - Leslie Booker

    Embodying Radical Presence
    We live in a culture where turning towards our embodied wisdom, intuition and heart is seen as counter culture and weak. Parker Palmer says that “Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive.” The intelligence of the body can inform our state of presence, our purpose, relationships with our bodies, and our connections and relationships with others. In this workshop we'll be unpacking these themes through embodied wisdom, relational practices, mindfulness and joy.

  • 12:00 - Adjourn

There will be a bookstore throughout the conference.

CONTACT: Juliet Trail -

Share this site.

Virginia Tech - Invent the Future   Continuing & Professional Education @ Virginia Tech