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Teaching the whole person

According to the American College Health Association, nearly 1 in 5 students struggle with anxiety or depression, and the most recent report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health lists these two conditions as the top reasons students seek counseling. One of the more creative attempts to address the challenge is a for-credit course called The Art and Science of Human Flourishing, piloted by the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Penn State. It recognizes the fact that college students face the multidimensional challenge of succeeding academically and adjusting to living on one’s own while maintaining a healthy social life–spheres that have traditionally been treated separately. David Germano, religious studies professor and director of UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center, says one of the keys to the course is students doing “reflective tasks together and actively making sense of what they are learning intellectually and connecting it to their lives,” including relationships, family life, career, and the “stress and anxiety they feel.” It’s part of a larger multi-year initiative by the three universities that includes online contemplative resources and assessment of the effect on students’ mental and emotional well-being.

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