Howard Thurman Contemplative Justice Fellowship

The Howard Thurman Contemplative Justice Fellowship is an emersion experience for students seeking compassionate and social justice pathways toward bringing about positive personal and collective transformation in their lives and today’s world. 


Building upon the wisdom and legacy of Howard Thurman and other contemplative leaders, writers, and activists, the Howard University Office of the Dean of the Chapel welcomes the inaugural cohort of the Contemplative Justice Fellowship.  This fellowship program is specifically designed for undergraduate students who have a passion for deepening their contemplative development in the spirit of compassion and collective transformation. Fellows will collaborate and build on their unique expertise to inspire healing and justice for Howard University and the global community at large.

Contemplative practices are found in many religious, indigenous, and spiritual traditions around the world. Howard Thurman, the first Dean of Howard University’s Chapel, through his passion for contemplation and justice, was a forerunner in revealing the connection between a profound contemplative awareness and action. In the spirit of this conviction, he challenged leaders to meet the social needs of those considered to be the outcasts of society.

The wisdom of contemplative approaches to healing and social change is deeply relevant in guiding us through and meeting the social and planetary challenges and needs of today. The design of this fellowship is intended to provide our fellows with ongoing opportunities to rest, study, learn from one another, and reimagine justice for their communities through the lens of awareness-based contemplative approaches to social transformation. As a cohort, the fellows will actively engage with the three core pillars of the program:

Core Pillars

  • Contemplation Science- A discipline of first-person, subjective inquiry into the nature of the mind and its role in Nature, which utilizes methods for developing refined attention, mindfulness, and introspection to directly observe states of consciousness and mental functions in their relationship with the body and the physical world at large.
  • Contemplative Action- An awareness-oriented approach to social action and healing that seeks to ground its values and ethics in contemplative understandings and relational practices such as compassion, interconnection, and care.
  • Planetary Justice- A solutions-oriented, transdisciplinary field and social movement focused on analyzing and addressing the impacts of human disruptions to Earth’s natural systems on human health and all life on Earth.


Fellowship Vision

The vision of the fellowship and the three pillars affirm the Office of the Dean of the Chapel’s core pillars of Faith, Service, and Justice through Wellness, while also carrying on the Chapel’s enduring legacy of developing spiritually grounded leaders to serve the global community. The mission of the program is to offer a space for students to take the courageous and necessary steps to become future leaders in our community who have the internal tools needed to inspire global and planetary healing and transformation.

Meet the Director