The LifeWorks program for integrative learning fosters the growth of “whole students,” cultivating their ability to live boldly, reflectively, and responsibly. Our courses and workshops integrate scholarship, creative expression and embodied practices such as mindfulness and self reflection to help students connect their academic work with their core values and goals. LifeWorks students gain a strong sense of personal and collective identity, and deepen those capacities--including courage, resilience, and compassion--that will help them contribute to an increasingly interdependent world.
What distinguishes LifeWorks Courses?
LifeWorks is part of Stanford's initiative to provide students with perspectives and practices that help them deepen their educational experience and more successfully negotiate the challenges they face in today's world. Our courses and workshops respond to the call by the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) for more adaptive and integrative learning that gives students the skills and capacities for living and working in a complex, accelerated, interdependent world.
LifeWorks courses integrate the process of self-inquiry into traditional learning by combining scholarship with creative expression, mindfulness and other embodied practices. Our approach combines the latest discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, and education with the wisdom and practices of contemplative world cultures. Embodied practices like mindfulness, dance, yoga and improvisation help students reduce stress, focus attention and improve academic and athletic performance. Such practices support the development of self-understanding, heightened comfort with ambiguity, increased happiness and a greater acceptance of others. Creative expression through writing, the arts and other media engages students more intuitively and holistically, helping them assimilate learning in fresh and unexpected ways.
A LifeWorks affiliated course on marine biology, for example, might combine traditional academic pedagogy with underwater photography and mindfulness training, enriching the students’ understanding and appreciation for the marine ecosystem and environment. In this way, students move beyond the mere accumulation of knowledge and learn to forge new connections while respecting diverse worldviews, integrating various elements from their education and applying them to a broad range of intellectual, social, environmental and political challenges.
LifeWorks promotes a transformative and ethical form of liberal arts education in which students interweave knowing, being and creating, providing them with a new framework of understanding with which to forge meaningful and impactful lives.
Gigi Otálvaro, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Division of Health and Human Performance | LifeWorks