<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-NP2ZK8" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> CACE Research & Initiatives

Compassion Initiative

The Naropa University Compassion Initiative

universal symbol for compassion


The Compassion Initiative grows out of the recognition that compassion – which lies at the heart of Naropa’s founding vision and curriculum – is an appropriate and deeply needed response to the challenges of our world. Drawing on the knowledge and practices of the world’s wisdom traditions as well as current scientific methods for examining and measuring the effects of contemplative practice, the Compassion Initiative focuses on three key projects:

  • Serving as a hub for compassion research at Naropa;
  • Offering Compassion Training for students, professionals and the public;
  • Convening compassion trainers and researchers to promote collaboration, discourse and growth in the field.

We envision that the Initiative will address questions regarding how we can best measure compassion; produce research findings that pinpoint efficacious compassion training; create publications that further the discourse on best practices in compassion training; and offer an effective Compassion Training curriculum that can be replicated in institutions around the world and applied to a range of audiences.

The Initiative is broad-based, collaborative and inclusive, drawing on the interdisciplinary expertise of numerous Naropa faculty as well as visiting scholars, trainers and researchers.

Naropa Compassion Training: March 6 – May 1, 2017

(An 8-week Public Program)

Dates: Mondays, March 6 – May 1, 2017. No class March 27.
Times: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Naropa Nalanda Campus, 6287 Arapahoe, Classroom 9235 (2nd floor)
Cost: $195
Naropa Faculty and Staff: $95
Students: $50 (scholarships available to Naropa students; please contact Charlotte Rotterdam, crotterdam@naropa.edu)


Compassion is one of the great human virtues, the ground and basis for altruistic behavior. Modern scientific research suggests that compassion can be fostered and trained, both to benefit others and to enhance personal well-being, happiness and resilience.

This program draws on mindfulness and compassion practices from wisdom traditions, in particular from Buddhism, as well as the findings of neuro- and social science. The training is deeply experiential and introduces contemplative practices through which you will explore the emotional quality of various forms of compassion and related behaviors. Our study is supported by readings on modern and ancient views on compassion as it functions within the individual, groups and communities.

The training will expand and refine your understanding of compassion and identify ways to support compassionate behavior in your personal, social and professional life.

 Key topics include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Self-compassion
  • Loving-kindness
  • Empathy
  • Resilient compassion
  • Somatic (embodiment) compassion practices
  • Staying attuned to the suffering of others while avoiding burn-out
  • Is compassion always nice?
  • The relevance of compassion in the professional arena – human services, health care, business, education, and others.

The course is taught by a team of Naropa University faculty who draw on their decades of teaching mindfulness and compassion practices within a variety of disciplines, including psychology, counseling, Buddhist studies, and the arts.

judith simmer-brown  Judith Simmer-Brown, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies

charlotte Charlotte Rotterdam, MTS, Instructor, Core College/CACE Director

gaylon ferguson Gaylon Ferguson, PhD, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies

Dale Asrael  Dale Asrael, MA, Associate Professor, Mindfulness-Based Counseling

Ericka Berland  Erika Berland, BPS, Instructor, MFA Theater: Contemporary Performance

Paul Bialek  Paul Bialek, MA, Assistant Professor, Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology

Jane Carpenter  Jane Carpenter, MA, Associate Professor, Contemplative Psychology

Jordan Quaglia

Faculty Spotlight

At its best, one's educational journey isn't just about oneself. Naropa fosters engaging one's education with a bigger vision.

— Jordan Quaglia, PhD
Assistant Professor, BA in Contemplative Psychology

Jordan Quaglia, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Contemplative Psychology at Naropa University. During doctoral training in Experimental Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, he was awarded Mind and Life Institute’s Francisco J. Varela Award for his dissertation research on the effects of mindfulness training on social emotion regulation. Now at Naropa, he directs the Cognitive and Affective Science Lab, relying on a range of methods, from neuroscientific measures to smartphone-based surveys. Quaglia’s research, focused primarily on topics of meditative cognition, emotion regulation, and social functioning, has been featured in leading scientific journals and scholarly books. In January 2017, he joined the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education as Research Director for the Compassion Initiative.