CCHU9078 Arts and Humanities
Contemplative Practices: From Personal Awareness to Social Well-being

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • The Quest for a Meaningful Life / The Universe and the Question of Meaning (UQM)
  • The Human Life Span (HL)


[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching assessment of written and visual communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade is assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Course Description

Among different cultures, balancing the pursuit of material success and the commitment to a way of living with clarity, kindness and moral standards are important questions for all of us to ask. Contemplative practices, their cultural histories and the scientific evidence are now widely taught to students of varying ages and professions as an attempt to answer such questions.

This course provides an overview of the philosophical and spiritual roots, cultural influences and scientific studies of contemplative practices adopted in modern societies. Beginning with the introduction of the history and theory of contemplative practice and followed by the scientific description of the impact on the mind-body connections developed through these practices, students will be guided to critically review the relationship of contemplative practices with four major themes: personal awareness and health, relational well-being with others, and the collective well-being in and across our societies. Framing lectures, experiential practice activities, case studies, and reflections in writing and other media will be included throughout the course.

Upon completion of this course, students will acquire the basic knowledge and skills about contemplative practice and develop their competence in examining the interconnected nature of history, culture, and the corresponding responsibility for personal and social well-being for all of us.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Reflect upon the relationship between material success and self-actualization in human development.
  2. Understand the historical and religious background, as well as scientific studies, of contemplative practice from the Eastern and Western traditions.
  3. Create a reflective case study or mindful journal on how contemplative practice can bring impact on personal awareness and health, relational well-being, ethical leadership to collective well-being in our society.
  4. Reflect on the ethical, and responsible way of living in modern society through the articulation of the interconnection of personal and social well-being through group presentation.
  5. Use written, oral and visual modalities to present concepts related to contemplative practice and well-being through case studies and the preparation and production of the multi-media group project.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 10
Reading / Self-study 50
Assessment: Group presentation (incl preparation) 25
Assessment: Reflection writing 11
Total: 120

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Lecture Participation 10
Tutorial Participation 10
In-class quizzes 10
Reflective journals 30
Group project 40

Required Reading

  • Dahl, C. J., & Davidson, R. J. (2019). Mindfulness and the contemplative life: Pathways to connection, insight, and purpose. Current Opinion in Psychology, 28, 60-64. 
  • Langer, E., Ngnoumen, C., & Le, A. (2014). The Wiley Blackwell handbook of mindfulness (Vol. I). [Chap. 7 “Eastern and Western approaches of mindfulness”; Chap. 24 “Leadership”; Chap. 58 “Peace education”]
  • Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2, 85-102.
  • Siegel, D. (2007). The mindful brain: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton. [Chap. 6]
  • Siegel, D. (2012). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press. [Chap. 7 “Self-regulation”; Chap. 8 “Interpersonal connection”]
  • Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011). Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. London: Piatkus. [Chap. 5]

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr. A.H.Y. Wan
Centre on Behavioral Health, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 2831 5578
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr. A.H.Y. Wan
Centre on Behavioral Health, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 2831 5578
Professor R.T.H. Ho
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 4087