‘Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.’ ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Teaching, research and writing feed into one another. Over the years, teaching in higher education has informed my educational research, and by consequence my research into writing (and vice versa). Some research has also evolved into a number of courses, talks and workshops, community projects, educational campaigns and other collaborations. The following list a sample of the most recent work:

COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROJECTS

The Bicentenary Meditation Project

This project, led by China-based international yoga therapist Nahal Hagabin of Yoga Avec Moi has aimed to create 365 days of guided meditations to commemorate the Bicentenary Birth of the Báb for every single day, ‘The Most Exalted, The Báb is in His 200th Year of Birth’. The purpose of this meditation project is: 1. to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Birth of The Báb; 2. to share the Message, sacred writings, Divine personage, stories, sufferings and purpose of The Bab and Bahá’u’lláh; 3. to provide a resource bank of varied meditations techniques on The Báb & Bahá’u’lláh that open the heart of a person for His sake’ or to strengthen faith in Him and certitude in His Reality’; 4. to encourage people to develop a daily habit of meditation. Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) created and guided three meditation practices for this project. The meditations are to be released as podcasts at the beginning of 2021.  

University Staff and Student Yoga Programme

Established and ran the first staff yoga programme in collaboration with the ‘UNNC Sports Centre’ and ‘Wellbeing Services’ at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) campus, with six qualified and experienced yoga teachers. Each semester there are a number of yoga classes for staff and their families to join. All yoga equipment (blocks, mats, blankets and straps) were funded and provided by UNNC Sports Centre. Although this initiative took a great of energy and time to establish, it is now well-established and its running and maintenance take care of themselves. Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) established, recruited teachers, taught on and ran the yoga programme between 2015 and 2019, and in 2019, was awarded ‘Staff Contribution of the Year’ for this work campus-wide since its genesis in 2015. View the promotional video.

Slow Spaces: The Campus Meditation Space for Student and Staff Wellbeing

This initiative aimed to support student and staff wellbeing and provide a silent space on an often hectic and lively campus. With the support and funding from ‘Campus Life’ (formerly ‘Residential College’) at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) campus, the first ever silent meditation room on the China-based campus was established. All meditation cushions, blocks and blankets were provided for students and staff. The space was also available for limited booking by staff to hold relaxation, meditation and other group practices for staff and students. Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) established and maintained the space from 2015 to 2019 and ran near-daily drop-in meditation sessions during the semester for staff and students that combine breath- and body-awareness meditative practices with relaxation. She also taught meditation workshops as part of an under-graduate architecture final project on ‘Designing Slow Spaces’.

Mental Health Awareness Week

This is an international week for Mental Health Awareness that a number of institutions and organisations participate in. At the  University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), with the support of Wellbeing Services and the student society HealthyU a week-long event was held for staff and students. Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) volunteered in a series of events held over several days, which included teaching workshops on breath work, meditation and integral yoga.

Sessions for Charity Events and in Local Schools

For the purpose of supporting local charities and local schools, on a free-lance and volunteer basis, Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) has run free classes, workshops and talks for a number of local charities and primary and secondary schools for the past eight years in both the UK and China.

Connecting the World through the Spirit of Poetry and Language

The podcast is co-produced by the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) scholars, professional staff and students that launched on the largest podcast platform in China, Ximalaya FM in 2019. The podcast was sponsored by The Lady Susan Greenaway Fellowship Fund and was managed by the Library Services at UNNC. The programme consists of 30 poems from 25 poets, read by 22 guests in 8 languages including English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Polish and Danish, to represent the multilingual culture of UNNC to the broader Chinese online community. Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) was one of the guests in the podcast who read and shared her thoughts on the seminal Taoist text (although not strictly a collection of poetry but rather a poetic collection of contemplative verses) Tao Te Ching (道德 经, Dàodé Jīng). View the article in both Chinese Mandarin and English.

RESEARCH TEAMS

Raising Awareness of Mental Health in Higher Education (RAMHHE) 

Publications Office for Students (OfS) awarded research funding for 2-years of £57,929 for a large-scale series of studies. The RAMHHE team works towards enabling positive mental health and psychological wellbeing, adopting an innovative whole university approach for best practice towards mental health support for university students at the University of East London (UEL) and its partner institutions both nationally and internationally. The research team has established and run 15 monthly student-led mental health campaigns since 2018 to date by creating safe spaces where students and staff engaged in dialogue about mental health and psychological wellbeing. This large-scale series of studies is contributing to enhancing student engagement, inclusivity, diversity and widening participation with more than 160 registered student volunteers. This campaign is led by mental health nurse, senior lecturer and social care researcher Dr. Josephine NwaAmaki Bardi. Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) contributes to RAMHHE through training sessions for student interns, campaign promotion and literature review research writing. 

Mental Wealth and Professional Fitness: Reimagining the University Curriculum for 21st Century Students

The Mental Wealth: Professional Fitness (MWPF) framework is the University of East London’s 2028 vision for a reimagined university curriculum that endeavours that reimagines an institutional culture that enables 21st century students to thrive in their future personal and professional environments. The MWPF framework consists of eight competencies (social and emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, cognitive intelligence, physical intelligence, community connections, industry connections, digital proficiency and entrepreneurship and enterprise) and involve developing both staff and students. Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi) is one of the lead creators of staff development curriculum online course and toolkit, designed to equip staff to embody their own MWPF in their courses in the development of their MWPF courses, as well as regular staff training workshops and various other development days.

COURSES, WORKSHOPS & TALKS

University Core and Elective Courses

  • Three Girls TV Series: Mindful Explorations of Identities
  • Mind Work: Practical Self-Inquiry for Examining Relationships with Self and Other
  • Yoga and Meditation for Nourishing the Whole You
  • Healthy Body, Healthy Mind 

Contemplative Reading and Writing Workshops for University Students 

  • The Heart of the Tao 
  • Spiritual Writings by Women 
  • Hearts, Blood and Bones 

Teacher Training Workshops for University Staff 

  • Embodied Pathways in Higher Education Teaching & Learning 
  • High-Impact Strategies for Engaging First-Person Learning in Higher Education 
  • Reflective Writing Practices for Harnessing a Sense of Belonging

University Talks

  • Diversity in Action: Loving-kindness & Self-inquiry on Matters of Gender & Sexuality
  • Meditation: Cultivating Four Qualities of ‘Mind’