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The Nonconformist Class | AMERICA'S COOLEST SCHOOLS

Going green may finally be "normal," but some schools with eco-agendas remain miles from mainstream

By Tim McDonnell

Naropa University

Courtesy of Claudia Lopez/Naropa University

You'd think that a school grounded in Buddhism would find it easy to harmonize with nature. Not always, said graduate student Nathaniel Janowitz. The school's Green Team, which he chairs, recently tried to rid Naropa's Boulder, Colorado, campus (home to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics) of bottled water. The effort was met with resistance by other students who felt that calling bottled water "bad" went against the Buddhist principle of nondualism, which rejects right-wrong distinctions.

Still, Janowitz said, Buddhism encourages compassion, which aligns naturally with the environmental movement. "When you're trying to lead a sustainable life, you're trying to find a way to have as little an impact on everything else as possible, and that's a very compassionate thing to do," he said. "We'll do meditations related to connecting to the earth, and just connecting to that connection, if that makes sense." With a nod to nondualism, we'll reserve further comment.

Above, an undergraduate course about Buddhist psychology.

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