Someone from the Maharishi University of Management (MUM) contacted my husband the other day. MUM is an Indian university that has a campus in Fairfield, Iowa. It turns out that MUM is not your usual (Indian) university. MUM’s philosophy of education focuses on developing pure consciousness and self-actualization, and helping students and faculty achieve their true human potential. They train all students and faculty in transcendental meditation, which is practiced twice a day at MUM. They offer a degree in sustainability. They have an organic farm and serve organic vegetarian meals in the school’s cafeteria. They don’t work on the semester schedule, instead students take one 4-week course at a time. This enables students to focus on one thing at a time, improves learning, and reduces stress from multitasking.
The concept sounds intriguing at the very least, and too good to be true at most. I’d love to visit the place and see for myself how these principles translate in everyday life at MUM in Fairfield, Iowa. But just from reading the website, I find several aspects of this concept very attractive:
- integrating self-actualization, mind development, self knowledge, and stress management in education. As I learn more about meditation, I think there are so many techniques I’d like to share with my students – to help them, at the very least, learn to manage their attention
- living a balanced, stress-free life
- focusing on one course at a time
- having time and resources (instructors) for practicing meditation, yoga, and pranayama (breathing techniques)
I wonder, is there anything we at “traditional” universities can learn from MUM? Anything we can do, in our own courses, to provide a more holistic education and reduce stress in our and our students’ lives?