Research Initiatives

Ethics, Education, and Human Development

There has always been a deep commitment at Mind and Life toward understanding what an ethical life can and should mean in today’s world in order to address the moral roots of our global problems—our educational and financial systems, our environment, our healthcare, and so on. By developing our natural capacities for caring, we believe we can embed ethics deeply enough so that it animates all human interaction. It is in this spirit that the Institute has embarked on its boldest endeavor yet: the Ethics, Education, and Human Development (EEHD) initiative, a program in three parts that addresses the whole person at all ages—in and out of school.

1. Ethics and Education in Students and Teachers (EEST)

Ethics and Education in Students and Teachers aims to address the limited attention in our educational systems for cultivating care and compassion—what we might call the forgotten heart of education. Operating at the intersections of education, developmental science, and contemplative scholarship, the EEST curriculum will incorporate a distinctive hybrid approach: focusing not only on students but on teachers as well.

In keeping with its global mandate, Mind and Life will codesign, implement, and assess this new curriculum and pedagogy domestically and abroad. In addition, through key funding the Institute will seek to stimulate and support research in this growing field.

2. Ethics and Education for Young Adults (EEYA)

Ethics and Education for Young Adults is dedicated to adapting and continuing EEST in young adults aged 16-22. This immersion will be accomplished mainly by the creation of an online set of modular courses, which will enable Mind and Life to offer a program that is scalable and available worldwide.

3. The Academy for Contemplative and Ethical Leadership (ACEL)

Determined that the ideas in this work be relevant to those in professional spheres, Mind and Life is designing a third component within the EEHD initiative: the Academy for Contemplative and Ethical Leadership. ACEL will operate as an annual, weeklong program that aspires to support the inner life and ethical development of young leaders in business, government, and civil society. It will be composed of keynote presentations, breakout sessions, workshops, and mentoring groups. Synthesizing the best new thinking in contemplative and ethical leadership, the Academy will offer established professionals and promising graduate students in different sectors of society the opportunity to deepen their capacities as leaders with luminaries in the field.

Craving, Desire, and Addiction

Mind and Life has always pursued new insights through the convergence of science and wisdom traditions in order to build a foundation for the next generation of human flourishing. To that end, the Institute is focusing on craving, desire, and addiction (CDA) as three root causes of human suffering. By bringing together neuroscientists, physicians, philosophers, contemplative scholars, and humanists, the Institute aims to uncover the mysteries behind this triad, and in so doing, identify real-life answers that deliver us out of limitation and illness into greater well-being.

Mind and Life is currently engaged in a major collaborative research project that will design and conduct a study using smartphones for data collection via experience sampling. The data from this study will provide key insights into desire, its relationship to the self, and the way this relationship affects people’s stress response and real-world compassionate behavior.

In addition, Mind and Life’s conferences will feature themes related to the CDA initiative, including an upcoming Summer Research Institute and the biannual International Symposium for Contemplative Studies.

Mapping the Mind

While science has done a superb job of mapping the cosmos, mapping the Earth, and mapping the genome, it has not yet created a comprehensive map of perhaps the most important terrain of all: our minds. Over thousands of years, the contemplative traditions have confronted the same challenges in charting the underpinnings of human suffering and what constrains us. Mind and Life’s Mapping the Mind initiative holds great promise to stimulate interest in this endeavor, and like the human genome project, galvanize instrumental research that will generate knowledge about our nature in order to create a sound foundation for learning to enhance human flourishing.

This exciting multiyear undertaking will mobilize the talents of the Institute’s growing worldwide network of researchers and contemplative practitioners and provide a robust platform for contemporary science to critically engage with the inherited wisdom of the contemplative traditions.


Please visit our Visiting Scholars Program and Research Workshops pages
for information on how to collaborate with us on research in these areas!