The Mindful Campus: Organizational Structure and Culture


  • Linda Coutant Appalachian State University
  • Karen Caldwell Appalachian State University


Mindfulness, Mindful Campus, Contemplative Education, Tree of Contemplative Practices, Organizational Theory, Organizational Structure, Organizational Culture


This case study of a campus known to incorporate contemplative practices in the curriculum and co-curriculum explored how a mindful campus is operated as well as what organizational structures and cultures are in place to support the use of contemplative practices. Supportive structures include physical structures (i.e., a labyrinth and meditation room), non-physical structures (i.e., a faculty learning community and student meditation club), and financial structures (i.e., a special professorate and internal grants). Cultural themes that emerged from participants’ description of the campus culture focused on embodiment of the liberal arts philosophy, community, and connection. All of Tierney’s (2008) aspects of culture—organizational mission, environment, information sharing, socialization of members, strategy, and leadership—had some evidence of being supportive of contemplative education in this campus culture, albeit in varying degrees. However, contemplative education, in itself, does not appear to be adequate to raise consciousness of issues of privilege, social justice, and diversity without making these issues explicit aspects of a mindful campus.

Author Biographies

Linda Coutant, Appalachian State University

Linda Coutant, Ed.D., is a senior writer/editor in University Communications at Appalachian State University. A former journalist, she has worked more than 20 years in higher education public relations and marketing.  As a doctoral student, she researched contemplative education from an organizational perspective. She has had a longtime meditation practice and in 2016 became a certified Koru Mindfulness Curriculum teacher. She serves as the president of Still Point, Appalachian’s faculty/staff contemplative organization. 

Karen Caldwell, Appalachian State University

Karen Caldwell, PhD., is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling at Appalachian State University. She teaches mindfulness based counseling, expressive arts therapy, and tai chi to graduate and undergraduate students and researches the effect of mind-body exercises on the development of mindfulness in young adults.


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