Insights made on workplaces, stress and Santa Clara students
THE SANTA CLARA
April 9, 2015
Five Santa Clara faculty members are featured contributors to a new book on compassion, featuring a study of Santa Clara students showing that programs like Arrupe increases student compassion.
The book, titled “The Psychology of Compassion and Cruelty: Understanding the Emotional, Spiritual, and Religious Influences,” is the fourth written by members of the Spirituality and Health Institute, a group composed of faculty from Santa Clara and other universities, including Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and Sophia University.
The authors engaged in a discussion with members of the Santa Clara community on Monday.
Thomas Plante, psychology professor and director of the institute, edited the book and co-wrote a chapter about his research on student compassion at Santa Clara with Hackworth Fellow and alumnus Erin Callister.
“At Santa Clara, we want to create a more compassionate, humane and just world and we do a variety of things that try to nurture that,” Plante said. “Our goal was to look at the research that examines whether these efforts to create a more compassionate student body are supported by empirical data.”
Over the past seven years, Plante has collected data using a questionnaire Santa Clara students must take as freshmen and as seniors.
He has worked with psychology students for the past year to determine predictors of higher “compassion scores”.
He found that community-based learning via the Arrupe program, spiritual and religious engagement, involvement with the Markkula Center and multicultural programs, and a tighter connection to the campus are positively correlated with compassion, leading to higher scores.
The research has also shown that activities like partying and beer drinking negatively affect compassion scores.
“My sense is that (Santa Clara) students do tend to be cut from the compassionate cloth before they get to campus and more so when they graduate,” Plante said in an email. “(Santa Clara) has a spirit and charisma of hospitality and compassion. You really feel it especially when you visit a lot of other campuses.”
English professor Diane Dreher presented on the intersection of compassion and stress in work environments, as well as the merits of meditation as a solution to the negative impacts of stress on health and productivity.
Andre Delbecq, management professor in the Leavey School of Business, shared findings from a study on how high-level business professionals deal with traumatic personal situations, such as the death of a family member.
Delbecq and his colleagues concluded that typical business responses to personal trauma experienced by employees are insufficient, calling these responses the “litmus test of a company’s compassion.”
Barbara Burns of the Liberal Studies Department discussed the significance of compassion in parenting and how mindfulness and compassion awareness techniques used in applied parenting programs can positively affect children.
Sarita Tamayo-Moraga of the Religious Studies Department led a short meditation, then talked about her exploration of the potential role of zen as a facilitator of compassion.
“Neuroscience and psychological research see the ability to not get hooked by the running commentary in our brain as a potential foundation for compassionate action.” Tamayo-Moraga said.
The panel was part of the Ethics at Noon series organized by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Contact Collin Baker at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.