Date of Dissertation


Document Type



Social Work


Grounded by Arthur Chickering’s Student Development Theory, this banded dissertation uses an ecological framework to examine trends in higher education and the importance of intercultural development, trauma-informed care, and contemplative pedagogy to promote a holistic approach to higher education. While exploring student development, the goal was to develop a conceptual framework that utilizes contemplative practice to foster intercultural development and attend to students’ personal experiences with trauma by using contemplative practices.

The first article, Social Work Education and Trauma-Informed Contemplative Pedagogy, bridges the literature on trauma-informed care and contemplative practices and introduces trauma-informed contemplative pedagogy as a model for social work education. Noted to improve self-awareness, mediate practice and content related stress, and have positive implications for metacognitive and critical thinking skills, contemplative practices are particularly relevant in social work education.

As students prepare to work in an increasingly global context, the necessity of intercultural competence is more urgent than ever. This is a call to action for faculty in preprofessional programs like social work where intercultural development and competence is essential to effective and ethical practice. The second article, Intercultural Development and Social Work Education in a Liberal Arts Context, examined pre and post test results for an intercultural development inventory among students enrolled in an undergraduate social work program.

Finally, the presentation Cultivating a Trauma-Informed Contemplative Pedagogy, highlighted the importance of disciplinary focus, institutional context, and student demographics. This presentation invited a multidisciplinary audience to consider the ways in which educators can integrate contemplative practices to create trauma-informed teaching environments that attend to the ways in which students’ personal histories intersect with course content. Trauma-Informed Contemplative Pedagogy was presented as a method of teaching relevant to a range of disciplines.

Social work has a long tradition of drawing on ecological theory and knowledge from many fields of study in building the unique person-in-environment perspective. Grounded by well developed theories of practice and emerging research on contemplative practices, intercultural development and trauma-informed care, social worker educators are keenly positioned to be leaders in twenty-first century liberal education.